By Malti Sahai
Cannes, May 12: The 68th Cannes Film Festival has given India reason to cheer with the country having not one but two films in the official selection screening in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section. This section aims at highlighting individualistic films with a difference, both in subject matter and aesthetics.
The first film Masaan (Fly away solo) by Neeraj Ghaywan is a relationship drama featuring three interweaving stories set in Beres. It is his debut feature film and therefore qualifies for the ‘Camera d Or’ award for The first film of a director. It stars Shweta Tripathi and Richa Chadda. Richa has been in Cannes before as part of Anurag Kashyap’s film ‘Anney Ghorrey Da Daan’ which screened in the Director’s fortnight section.
The second one, Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction) is a Punjabi film by Gurvinder Singh. It follows the aftershocks of Indira Gandhi’s assassition inPunjab. It is his second feature film after ‘Anney Ghorrey Da Daan’ (Alms for a blind horse). Both the films are Indo-French co-productions. They also do not feature any ‘stars’ of the Bollywood kind.
Speaking at the press conference to unveil the line up of films selected to screen this year, Thierry Fremaux said, “they came neither from Bollywood nor the classic tradition but rather from a new wave of local film making that has appeared in recent years.”
Hindi tittles have domited the official selection at Cannes for the past several years. These include Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan in 2010, Ashim Ahluwalia’s ‘Miss Lovely’ in 2012 and Kanu Behl’s ‘Tittli’ in 2014. The inclusion of a Punjabi film has been welcomed by the regiol filmmakers.
Besides the two Indian films, Asian titles in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section this year include Cannes regulars, Japanese auteur Kyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Journey to the Shore’, Korean director Oh Seung-Uk’s ‘Shameless,’ omi Kawase’s ‘An’ , Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Cemetry Of Splendor’ and Filipino director Brillante Mendosa’s ‘Taklub.’ Incidentally, Weerasethakul had won the Palme d’ Or in 2010 for ‘Uncle Boomee Who Can Recount His Past Lives’.
Alongside Neeraj Ghaywan’, several other first-time directors showing up in the Un Certain Regard sidebar such as Iranian Ida Pahandeh’s ‘hid,’ celebrated French short film maker, Laurent Laviere’s ‘Je Suis Un Soldat’ and Ethiopian film ‘Lamb’ which is also the first ever entry from Ethiopia in the official selection.
That two Indian films have been short listed in a year when some of the stalwarts found it difficult to make the list is commendable. The Jury for Un Certain Regard headed by Isabella Rossellini has a tough task ahead as Thierry’s mix of old established directors play out alongside new mes. Unfortutely once again no Indian film has been selected for the Competition Section at Cannes. The last time an Indian film featured in Competition was two decades ago when Shaji N Karun’s ‘Swaham’ was selected in1994.
Indian films were regularly finding place in these sections in the past. With only two films selected in the Official sections we will have to depend on Market Screenings or screenings in the Short film Corner to further establish our presence.
Meanwhile, the festival has included a number of second or third works by directors with growing reputations. However, returning filmmakers who have played Cannes in previous years appear to domite the selection. These include Romanian auteur Cornelieu Porumboiu, who won the section’s jury prize in 2009 with ‘Police Adjective’ and will now premiere his latest work, ‘The Treasure’. French Director Alice Winocour will screen her home front drama, ‘Maryland,’ after premiering her debut feature ‘ Augustine ‘in the Critics Week in 2012. The US presence in Un Certain Regard will be by Reberto Minervini’s ‘The Other Side’. He showed ‘Stop the Pounding Heart’ as a special screening two years ago.