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Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Bollywood celebs support Oxfam’s climate change campaign

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2009 at 11:24 AM

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Courtesy of sify news

Bollywood celebrities like Gulzar, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol have been tagged ‘green hearts’ after they signed up for British aid agency Oxfam India’s message on climate change Friday at the 11th annual Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema here.

The ‘green hearts’ will be voicing their opinions and fighting for various causes of climate change, said a press release from Oxfam India.

The agency has set up a green corner with a green carpet to promote causes associated with climate change at the film festival. It has been endorsed by a lot of other celebrities like Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bhardwaj, Amol Gupte, Rajeev Khandelwal, et al.

Bollywood actor Rahul Bose was the first Indian to become the global ambassador of the international NGO. In 2007, he joined the elite company of actresses Scarlett Johansson, Helen Mirren and singer Annie Lennox who are also associated with Oxfam’s green cause.

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come PARTY with us!

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

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YOU are INVITED to the AIDS JaaGO Reception on TUESDAY November 10th at 8pm!

FilmKaravan
Invites You to Join
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TANNISHTHA CHATTERJEE | SANJAY SURI & other special guests

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More information – www.filmkaravan.com

Thanks to our generous sponsors
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*WE CAN’T WAIT TO GET DOWN WITH YOU*

Bollywood movies a bright spot for U.S. cinema industry

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 11:11 PM

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Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

By Richard Verrier

Reporting from San Jose – It’s 8 p.m. Friday and the historic Towne Theatre downtown is sold out. About 500 moviegoers have crowded into the three-screen movie house, paying up to $12 a ticket to watch not the latest Hollywood blockbuster but instead the premieres of three Indian movies that are opening simultaneously in India.

Tonight’s showcase feature: the Tamil action thriller “Aadhavan” starring hunk Surya Sivakumar, who enjoys rock-star status among fans known to break out in cheers when his image appears on screen.

As couples, parents pushing children in strollers and bands of young men stream into the 81-year-old theater, past the concession stand selling popcorn, mango juice and Indian fruit bread, an employee of the film’s distributor is showing his gratitude. He hands out doughy sweets called laddu, wishing patrons a “Happy Diwali” in Tamil, a salutation of the Hindu festival celebrating the victory of good over evil.

“If you go to the AMC theater, they don’t play South Indian movies. This is our only option,” said Sudhakar Desireddy, a software engineer for Cisco Systems Inc. and a Towne Theatre regular who sometimes attends showings twice a week. “There are so many Indians here. . . . The demand here is huge.”

Welcome to one of the few bright spots for the stagnant U.S. movie theater industry: Indian cinema. As the Indian film industry has mushroomed — surpassing Hollywood as the most prolific producer of movies — distributors of Bollywood and regional Indian films have been eager to broaden their global appeal, especially in the U.S., which accounts for as much as 70% of their movies’ foreign box office.

The U.S. has a fast-growing and affluent population of Indian Americans: about 2.5 million people. The Bay Area alone is home to an estimated 215,000 ethnic Indians, many of whom work in the Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry and are hungry for entertainment from their home country.

Hoping to cash in on that appetite is Big Cinemas, India’s largest movie theater chain. Big Cinemas is a division of Reliance, the Mumbai-based conglomerate controlled by Indian billionaire Anil Ambani that is also bankrolling Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio and that also owns the Burbank postproduction house Lowry Digital. In the last 18 months, Reliance has quietly assembled a group of 18 theaters around the country, with most offering a mix of Indian and Hollywood films and some, like the theater in San Jose, exclusively featuring Indian movies. The company now operates 181 screens in the U.S., ranking as the 25th-largest theater operator in the country.

Big Cinemas’ goal: to build the nation’s first theater circuit catering to Indian Americans and other ethnic groups passed over by the major chains. It plans to open half a dozen more theaters targeted to Indian American audiences in Los Angeles — it already has a theater in Norwalk — and in Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Tampa, Fla..

“What we found is that there is a critical mass of audiences in the U.S., but they are underserved,” said Uday Kumar, who oversees Reliance’s Big Cinemas operation in North America. “We saw an untapped demand.”

Traditionally, Indian film distributors have had to ply the backwaters of the U.S. market, where their movies frequently were booked into third-tier theaters that lacked even such basics as reliable accounting systems for ticket receipts. Many potential patrons preferred to stay at home and watch movies, often from pirated DVDs, rather than venture out to often run-down theaters, said Big Cinemas executives.

Seeking to upgrade the experience and the environment, Big Cinemas is spending $12 million to renovate theaters — many of which it acquired from mom-and-pop operators — with new digital projectors and sound systems, computerized accounting controls, stadium seating and concession stands serving Indian food. A refurbished 12-screen multiplex in North Bergen, N.J., features a Bombay Cafe that serves such treats as samosas, papdichaat and mango lassi. Another newly remodeled theater in the Chicago suburb of Niles features a full-service Indian restaurant, bar and lounge.

At the same time, Reliance reached out to Indian film distributors, offering to act as a “one-stop shop” to deliver their movies across the U.S. via a company-owned fiber-optic network that pipes films directly from Mumbai to New York. That assures quicker and cheaper distribution than in the past, when canisters of film would have to be flown in and could get held up in customs, causing costly delays.

Lacking expertise in the U.S. market, Reliance formed a joint venture with Phoenix Theatres, a small, privately held company in Knoxville, Tenn., to manage the entire Big Cinemas circuit.

“They realized it was a different ballgame in the States,” said Phil Zacheretti, a former executive with theater giant Regal Cinemas who founded Phoenix and now manages Big Cinemas’ day-to-day operations.

Although some of major theater chains do show Bollywood films at a few locations, they don’t pose a serious threat to Big Cinemas, Zacheretti said. “They are not going to serve samosas,” he noted, adding that the theaters, for Indian Americans, are as much social points as they are entertainment centers. “Our theaters become the gathering place where families can meet in the lobby before and after the movies.”

As a further draw, Big Cinemas plans to use its theaters to show live cricket matches — India’s most popular sport — popular TV shows like the Indian adaptation of “Dancing With the Stars” and even religious festivals beamed via satellite from India.

So far, its U.S. theaters are a drop in the bucket for a conglomerate like Reliance, generating about $25 million in annual revenue. The business isn’t expected to become profitable until next year because of the investment in renovations, Kumar said.

Still, Reliance takes a long-term view and even foresees using its theaters to sell other products, such as DVDs, as well as sell advertising space to companies, like Western Union, that want to target ethnic Indians.

“We see an opportunity to mine the Indian diaspora in the U.S., to market a whole range of products to them,” said Anil Arjun, who heads Reliance’s worldwide theater operations.

The company also is looking beyond Bollywood to screen movies for other “niche audiences.” The Niles, Ill., theater,for example, regularly offers Polish, Korean and Russian movies and even the occasional Mongolian flick, as well as Indian fare.

“We’re testing the waters,” Kumar said. “But there’s no reason we can’t do the same thing for other [ethnic] groups.”

SAIFF Sparkles in its 2009 Edition

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 11:07 PM

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Courtesy of EGO Magazine

By E. Nina Rothe

Once Fall descends on NYC, we all find it much cozier to spend our time indoors, perhaps in the pleasant warmth of the movies, watching the latest blockbuster or most talked about indie hit. Thankfully this coming week one of the most anticipated events of the season, the South Asian International Film Festival — or SAIFF for short – takes over a few venues throughout the Big Apple with an array of Bollywood blockbusters, some Hindi indie flicks and even India’s official entry to the Oscar for 2010.

The opening night selection is a bigger than life, magical modern retelling of the tale of ‘Aladin’, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Sanjay Dutt and Jaqueline Fernandes. The film promises to be an all-out, no holds barred Bollywood extravaganza and is directed by Sujoy Ghosh. The world premiere of the film, at the Paris Theater on October 28th, will include a post-screening Q & A session with members of the cast – although the Big B Genie will elude us, hunky Aladin AKA Ritesh Deshmukh is scheduled to be there – and director Ghosh himself.

Also in the festival is the highly anticipated ‘Fatso’ directed by that ‘Monsoon Wedding’ Uncle we all love to hate Rajat Kapoor and starring the highly eccentric Ranvir Shorey, who supposedly put on loads of weight to ‘fit’ the part. If that reminds you of Robert De Niro, trust me the similarities between the two actors do not end there! Rajat Kapoor is a personal favorite of mine, able to don the writer/director’s hat perfectly – as in the brilliant ‘Mixed Doubles’ about the weaknesses of married men and what destruction those flaws can bring on – as well as ever being the perfect thespian, as in the one-man piece ‘Siddharth: The Prisoner’ and Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’.

If this leaves you wanting for more of the charismatic Rajat Kapoor, then you are in luck. He also stars in ‘Raat Gayi Baat Gayi?’, along with Neha Dupia and Viney Pathak, screening on the evening of Monday, November 2nd, at the School of Visual Arts Theater. Another wonderfully funny yet poignant film about the conservative institution of marriage in an increasingly modernized India.

Closing the festival will be Paresh Mokashi’s feature directorial debut ‘Harishchandrachi Factory’, a Marathi film depicting the birth of the Indian film industry. Set in 1914, the film follows the struggle of Dadasaheb Phalke while making the first silent Indian film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ against all the odds. Mokashi’s film has been chosen as India’s official 2010 entry to the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language film category, which marks only the second time a Marathi film has been picked.

So, with films to delight everyone from Bollywood fanatics, to die-hard independent cinema fans and even regional cinema lovers, SAIFF promises to the be all the entertainment we need to warm up our October! For tickets and more info, go to www.saiff.org.

About the author: E. Nina Rothe ran her own column at Chic Today for over a year and a half where she interviewed Sooni Taraporevala, Zoya Akhtar and Liz Mermin among many others. She currently writes for AVS TV. She has just been published in Tehelka Magazine and Bespoke as well. You can find her personal writing on her blog The Ajnabee Websites: (http://theajnabee.com/)

Abhay Deol walks the ramp for Ritu Beri

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 8:53 AM

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Courtesy of the Times of India

Check out Abhay Deol walking the ramp for designer, Ritu Beri and catch up in conversation with both of them here!

A cinematic treat!

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 8:41 AM

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Courtesy of the Times of India

Osian’s Cinefan Festival, the leading festival of Indian, Asian and Arab Cinema, in association with the Government of the NCT of Delhi, kickstarted yesterday at the Siri Fort Complex in with a gala opening ceremony.

Noted lyricist-writer-director-poet Gulzar was honored with the 2009 Osian’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the presence of chief guest Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi. Today, Gulzar saab will hold his Masterclass as part of OLE — The Osian’s  Learning Experience, an educational initiative for the arts and cinema — on the history of Hindi film lyrics at 11 am at Siri Fort. (Entry is free, on a first-come-first-serve basis.) He will also participate in an unique conversation with Vishal Bhardwaj and Mani Kaul as part of the Newstream Section at 3:30 pm today.

The festival provides a radical platform for OLE. The Newstream Cinema Section being introduced this year studies select films that have dared to redefine mainstream cinema. All young and talented filmmakers like Vishal Bhardwaj, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Raj Kumar Gupta and Dibakar Banerjee, along with their technicians and actors, ranging from Rishi Kapoor to Abhay Deol, will be present at the festival and directly present the emerging new face of Indian cinema through their films. “It has taken us nearly ten years to reach a stage where we can offer a fundamentally new and bold educational vision to people of all backgrounds and ages. OLE represents that first step,” says Neville Tuli, Chairman, Osian’s — Connoisseurs of Art Private Limited. The festival will continue till October 30th; the band Euphoria will perform at the closing ceremony.

Abhay Deol Practices Krav Maga

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 2:57 PM

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Special Thanks to Vicky Kapoor of Krav Maga India

Word on the street says that Abhay Deol is practicing Krav Maga, the martial art form of defensive fighting, a lot these days. Instead of relaxing during any downtime on the sets of his current project, Abhay scurries to learn and practice Krav Maga. We hear that he is likely to showcase this newly developed skill in an upcoming project. Looks like Abhay is always making the best use of his time, crafting his skills without a break!

From Actors to Scuba Divers!

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 12:56 PM

parvin-underwater *Above: Parvin Dabbas with sharks!

Special thanks to Nimisha Tiwari at the The Times of India

Akshay Kumar’s recent release, “Blue,” has gained tremendous buzz for its spectacular stunts, thrills, and budget! Significant portions shot underwater, Khiladi Kumar wasn’t satisfied with his performance solely from underwater scene training. Akki earned his diver certification to ensure safe and accurate techniques in his shots! Akshay was not the first in Bollywood to earn this scuba certification, familiar face Parvin Dabbas is also a certified diver and skilled underwater photographer! Check out a video of Parvin’s underwater adventures here!

The Seventh Annual 3rd I San Francisco South Asian International Film Festival

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 12:16 PM

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Courtesy of thirdi.org

The Seventh Annual 3rd i SFISAFF is right around the corner: November 5 – 8, 2009
Opening at the Roxie Theater, Thursday/Friday, November 5-6
Continues at the Castro Theatre over the weekend, November 7-8
Four days of shorts, documentaries and features from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Australia, Canada, Germany, UK and the USA. From art-house classics to documentary films, from innovative and experimental visions to next-level Bollywood: 3rd i is committed to promoting diverse images of South Asians through independent film.

Buy your tickets today! Early bird ticket specials available until 9 am on Friday, October 23rd!

The Early Bird Special ends at 9am on Friday October 23. Purchase tickets and passes online through our festival website.

Passes are available for the Full Festival, Castro Weekend, Castro Saturday, Castro Sunday and Opening Night.
Buy a Documentary Pass and see all seven of the amazing documentaries at this year’s festival, ranging from personal essay to cinema verite. Meet filmmakers Baljit Sangra (Warrior Boyz) and Kaushik Mukherjee (Love in India) in person at the Roxie Theater on Friday, November 6.

Hot off the Press!

Zero Bridge, directed by Tariq Tapa, (playing on Sunday, November 8, 4:15pm at The Castro Theatre) was just nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award in the category: Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.

Well, you’re in luck! 3rd i brings you the opportunity to see this film at a theater near you! Meet the filmmaker and experience an authentic story about the Kashmiris. An impressive debut from Bay Area’s own emerging talent!
Other indy narrative features in this year’s festival include: Joseph Mathew’s sensuous Bombay Summer and Avie Luthra’s dark comedy Mad, Sad & Bad. Both filmmakers will be attending the festival.

Ambika Hinduja on working with Amitabh Bachchan

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 11:49 AM

ambikaAmbika Hinduja has always dreamt of working with the doyen of Bollywood — Amitabh Bachchan, and today she admits that when she finally did for her upcoming film, it was a dream come true for her.

“As a child I had dreamed of working with Mr Bachchan, and when this dream was realised, I was awestruck by his mesmeric talent, as perfect as it is peerless. Outside of being a celebrated actor, he has not only been a role model for his children and family, but for an entire generation,” she says.

Ambika recalls that even celebrated Hollywood actor Sir Ben Kingsley was also ‘touched’ with Big B’s personality when he was filming with him in London. “He told me that he was profoundly impressed with Mr Bachchan’s presence and his acting genius. I suppose when you create a climate for perfection to thrive, it does,” she says.
But the biggest treat for anybody is a chance to listen to Big B recite poetry — and what better poem than one by the great poet, late Harivansh Rai Bachchan, his father.

Ambika reminisces, “While we were filming in Pune at a college campus, late last year, he recited a section of his great father’s classic poem, Madhushala, for his admirers at the college, the cast and crew. To hear his incomparable baritone fill the auditorium with the wisdom of his father’s words filled me with poignant wonderment. Mr. Bachchan served the memory of his father with an admiration and composite equality that would make any father unspeakably proud. And he did what legends are meant to do: he inspired me to be a better daughter,” she adds, ending with a belated wish for his birthday, “I wish him good health and the uplifting comfort of happiness.”

(From DNA India)

Anurag Kashyap Announces His Latest Project, “That Girl in Yellow Boots”

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 4:18 PM

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Originally published by Anurag Kashyap on his blog PassionforCinema.com (http://passionforcinema.com/announcing-that-girl-in-yellow-boots/ )

Yes that’s the title of the movie i am making now. Forget media speculations about “Happy Ending” and “Bombay Velvet”. BV ’s script is not yet locked, its far from complete and who knows how many drafts to go. I was in the Jury of Venice and met a lot of filmmakers, saw a lot of films that shamed me, inspired me, challenged me and i realized that i haven’t shot anything in more than a year. I have been planning and dreaming and more planning and more planning. I needed to make a film.

I narrated an idea to Kalki, whose playwriting skills were fantastic enough to win her and her co-writer an award. I personally had read a lot more of what she wrote, so i narrated an idea to her, asked her to write. She wrote random scenes, i kept pushing her , she kept writing. We got together her theatre friends, some great new age actors, as yet unexposed to cinema, we improvised scenes, then on 24th and 25th of september i sat down and wrote a draft out of all her writings and improvisation. 26th we had a narration that didn’t go down too well. I rewrote it. Everyone liked it. 27th i gathered the team together , i announced i want to start shooting in 20 days. Kshipra, Neel , my a.d’s freaked out. They yelled, screamed at me, tried to make me see sense, i did’t see it. I just knew i had to do it now or i would get into a rut of big time. They are the darlings, them , vasan, shlok, prerna, kashyap das, all my friends, they all said , lets do it. We borrowed monies, Guneet Monga(Dasvidaniya) came on board with Shibani and then brought in Yogesh Tewathiya(production team) , Rajeev Ravi(my all and everything) flew down on 28th, wasiq khan came on board on 29th, shubhra my costumes person came on board on 29th, My friends Amar Butala and Jordi lend us monies to start work, Sanjay Singh gave us some more monies,

My friend Mitul from Chandigarh transferred monies and one other support system of mine that i can’t name, made a large sum available to me. We found out about Canon 5D and went looking for it and ended up with the new canon 7D , launched on the first of this month. We decided to go digital. Our guerilla teams were ready, we decided while the city celebrates Diwali, we will shoot on the streets, shoot we did, in front of the whole city , only they did not know it.

Five days of shooting over and i realized, sometimes all you need is the will and the faith and a willingness to succumb to the temptation of making a film. Go out and experiment, don’t wait for things to fall in place and beg borrow and steal if you may, and no one in the world can stop you.

So here on PFC I announce my film in progress. It’s called

“That Girl in Yellow Boots”

Its a thriller and features Kalki Koechlin with Prashant Prakash(from the play-The skeleton Woman), Gulshan devaiyah, Pooja Swaroop, Kumud Mishra, Shiv Subramanyam, Divya Jagdale, Thani and Naseeruddin Shah.
Music by debutante Naren Chandavarkar
Rest of the crew you know.
So wish us luck. 19 days shoot ends on november 10th and we will talk then.

Mira Nair and more at 1st Doha Tribeca Film Fest

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2009 at 2:15 PM

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Courtesy of THR.com – film

By Gregg Kilday

Filmmakers Mira Nair, Danny Boyle, Elia Suleiman and R.J. Cutler and industry execs Lynette Howell, Ken Kamins and Cassian Elwes will be among those participating in film talks and panels at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.

DTFF, a partnership between Tribeca Enterprises and Qatar Museums Authority, runs from Oct. 29-Nov.1 in Doha, Qatar.

The Doha Talks line-up includes a master class with director Danny Boyle; a panel on the new wave of Arab filmmakers, “The New Arab Way”; and two Q&A sessions hosted by fest exec director Amanda Palmer with Mira Nair and Elia Suleiman.

Three “Industry Conversations” will explore the business of entertainment, tackling the topics of documentary filmmaking,  film finance, and production and distribution in the global marketplace. Participants will include Kamins, who was involved in the financing of “The Lord of the Rings”; film agent and financier Elwes; and Howell, producer of “Half Nelson” and “Phoebe in Wonderland.”

Events are free to DTFF badge holders.

They include:

— The New Arab Way: host, Ali Jaafar; participants, Amin Matalq, Chadi Zenedinne, Swel Noury and Marwan Hamed.

— Up for Debate: The Film Challenge: participants, QatarDebate students; comedians Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid.

— Documentary Filmmaking: Non-Fiction, Reality and Beyond: moderator, Beadie Finzi; particpants: Julie LeBrocquy, R.J. Cutler, Borut Strel, Giorgia Lo Savio and Liz Mermin.

— One Big World: Producing and Distributing Independent and International Films in the Global Market:moderator. Geoff Gilmore.

–Financing from Hollywood to Qatar: The New World of Global Production: moderator, Cassian Elwes; participants, Ken Kamins, Frederic Sichler, Tarek Ben Ammar and Lynette Howell.

Opening night of Middle East International Film Festival

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 at 6:20 PM

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Courtesy of gulfnews.com

Girl power on show as stars line the red carpet on the opening night of the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi.

*See photos at gulfnews.com

“Locker,” “Fan” Lead Gotham Nods

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 at 6:06 PM

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Courtesy of indiewire.com

By Peter Knegt

Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” and Robert Siegel’s “Big Fan” led the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Award nominations, each taking three nominations, and with “Locker”‘s Bigelow additionally receiving a Gothams’ tribute award. “Locker” and “Fan” join Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man,” Sebastian Silva’s “The Maid,” and Cherien Dabis’s “Amreeka” in the competition for the year’s best feature, The complete list of nominees is below. The awards will take place Monday, November 30th at Cipriani Wall Street, and are considered the first major ceremony of the awards season.

The nominees are:

Best Feature
Amreeka
Cherien Dabis, director; Christina Piovesan, Paul Barkin, producers (National Geographic Entertainment)
Big Fan
Robert Siegel, director; Jean Kouremetis, Elan Bogarin, producers (First Independent Pictures)
The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow, director; Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro, producers (Summit Entertainment)
The Maid
Sebastian Silva, director; Gregorio Gonzales, producer (Elephant Eye Films)
A Serious Man
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors/producers (Focus Features)

Best Documentary
Food, Inc.
Robert Kenner, director; Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein, producers (Magnolia Pictures)
Good Hair
Jeff Stilson, director; Chris Rock, Kevin O’Donnell, Nelson George Jenny Hunter, producers (Liddell Entertainment and Roadside Attractions in association with HBO Films)
My Neighbor My Killer
Anne Aghion, director/producer (Gacaca Productions)
Paradise
Michael Almereyda, director; Michael Almereyda, Laurie Butler, producers (Post Factory Films)
Tyson
James Toback, director; James Toback, Damon Bingham, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Ensemble Performance
Adventureland
Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds (Miramax Films)
Cold Souls
Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, Emily Watson, Katheryn Winnick, David Strathairn (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
The Hurt Locker
Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly (Summit Entertainment)
A Serious Man
Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed (Focus Features)
Sugar
Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Michael Gaston, Andre Holland, Ann Whitney, Richard Bull, Ellary Porterfield, Jaime Tirelli (Sony Pictures Classics)

Breakthrough Director
Cruz Angeles for Don’t Let Me Drown
Frazer Bradshaw for Everything Strange and New
Noah Buschel for The Missing Person (Strand Releasing)
Derick Martini for Lymelife (Screen Media Films)
Robert Siegel for Big Fan (First Independent Pictures)

Breakthrough Actor
Ben Foster in The Messenger (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Patton Oswalt in Big Fan (First Independent Pictures)
Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker (Summit Entertainment)
Catalina Saavedra in The Maid (Elephant Eye Films)
Soulemane Sy Savane in Goodbye Solo (Roadside Attractions)

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
Everything Strange and New
Frazer Bradshaw, director; Laura Techera Francia, A.D. Liano, producers
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Damien Chazelle, director; Jasmine McGlade, producer
October Country
Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, directors/producers
You Won’t Miss Me
Ry Russo-Young, director/producer
Zero Bridge
Tariq Tapa, director; Tariq Tapa, Josee Lajoie, Hilal Ahmed Langoo, producers

The nominating committees for the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Award announced above are as follows:

Nominating Committee for Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance:
Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, Museum of Modern Art; Lisa Schwarzbaum, Film Critic, Entertainment Weekly; Dana Stevens, Film Critic, Slate.com; Kenneth Turan, Film Critic, Los Angeles Times

Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor:
Florence Almozini, Program Director, BAMCinematek; Justin Chang, Film Critic, Variety; Rob Nelson, Film Critic, Minnesota Post

Nominating Committee for Best Documentary:
Livia Bloom, Film Curator and editor of Errol Morris: Interviews (University of Mississippi Press); David Courier, Programmer, Sundance Film Festival; Tom Hall, Director of Programming, Sarasota Film Festival; Artistic Director, Newport International Film Festival; Writer, The Back Row Manifesto (http://blogs,indiewire.com/twhalliii/); Ronnie Scheib, Film Critic, Variety

Nominating Committee for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You:
Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Media, Museum of Modern Art; and members of the editorial staff of Filmmaker Magazine: Scott Macaulay (Editor-in-Chief), Jason Guerrasio, Brandon Harris, Ray Pride, Alicia Van Couver

AWARDS WATCH ‘08 | “Ballast” Leads Gotham Awards With Four Nominations

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 at 2:11 PM

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Courtesy of indiewire.com

By Peter Knegt

Lance Hammer‘s “Ballast” led the 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Award nominations, which were announced this morning by IFP.  “Ballast” garnered four nods, including Best Feature, Best Ensemble Performance, Best Breakthrough Director, and Best Breakthrough Actor. The other films feted for Best Feature wereCourtney Hunt‘s “Frozen River,” Charlie Kaufman‘s “Synecdoche, New York,” Tom McCarthy‘s “The Visitor,” and Darren Aronofsky‘s “The Wrestler.”

“Contradicting the doom and gloom stories about the state of independent film, 2008 has proven to be an extremely strong year for an immensely diverse group of filmmakers tackling a range of subjects and forms in new and dynamic ways,” saidMichelle Byrd, executive director of IFP, in a statement. “Impressively, nearly 50% of our titles are directorial debuts.”

indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez and Peter Knegt react to the nominations in a back and forth conversation posted after the announcement.

A scene from Antonio Campos’s “Afterschool.” Image courtesy of IFP.

Presented by IFP, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, the
Gothams’ honor American independent film in six categories. In addition to “Ballast,” mulitple nominees included “Synecdoche, New York,” “Frozen River,” “The Visitor,”Woody Allen‘s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Jonathan Demme‘s “Rachel Getting Married” and Antonio Campos‘s “Afterschool.”

One of “Afterschool”‘s nominations came in the category of Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. New this year, that category’s winner will receive a cash award of $15,000 provided byArtists Public Domainand D.R. Reiff & Associates. “Afterschool”‘s competition in the category includes Taylor Greeson‘s “Meadowlark,” Tom Quinn‘s “The New Year Parade,” Nina Paley‘s “Sita Sings the Blues” and Jake Mahaffy‘s “Wellness.”

IFP previously announced that actor Penelope Cruz, president of HBO Documentary Films’ Sheila Nevins, and filmmakers Gus Van Sant and Melvin Van Peebles will be presented with Tributes at this year’s awards ceremony.  Today’s announcement marked a shift in their name to the “Gotham Independent Film Awards,” a subtle change from the previous “Gotham Awards.”

“In 2007 we refined the criteria to ensure solely independent films [were] eligible for consideration,” noted IFP’s Michelle Byrd, today. She added that the criteria for this year is defined as: “theatrical release through a specialty division of a studio, an independent distributor or via self-distribution.” “Given this clarity of criteria, we decided to incorporate ‘independent film’ into the name for the awards,’ Byrd continued, “We feel this was a subtle tweak, but hopefully, an explicit one.”

Selecting this year’s nominees were 18 critics, journalists, and film programmers. Final award recipients will be determined by separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, casting directors, composers and others directly involved in making films. The recipient of The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You award will be determined by the editors ofFilmmaker magazine, a publication of IFP, and a curator from The Museum of Modern Art.

The awards will be presented on Tuesday, December 2nd at New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street.

A scene from Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York.” Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Award nominees are:

Best Feature

Ballast
Lance Hammer, director; Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh, producers (Alluvial Film Company)

Frozen River
Courtney Hunt, director; Heather Rae, Chip Hourihan, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Synecdoche, New York
Charlie Kaufman, director; Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Sidney Kimmel, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Visitor
Tom McCarthy, director; Mary Jane Skalski, Michael London, producers (Overture Films)

The Wrestler
Darren Aronofsky, director; Scott Franklin, Darren Aronofsky, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Documentary

Chris & Don: A Love Story
Guido Santi & Tina Mascara, directors; Julia Scott, Tina Mascara, Guido Santi, James White, producers (Zeitgeist Films)

Encounters at the End of the World
Werner Herzog, director; Henry Kaiser, producer (THINKFilm / Image Entertainment)

Man on Wire
James Marsh, director; Simon Chinn, producer (Magnolia Pictures)

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
Marina Zenovich, director; Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Lila Yacoub, Marina Zenovich, producers (THINKFilm in association with HBO Documentaries)

Trouble the Water
Tia Lessin & Carl Deal, producers/directors (Zeitgeist Films)
Best Ensemble Performance

Ballast
Micheal J. Smith, Sr., JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail (Alluvial Film Company)

Rachel Getting Married
Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George, Debra Winger (Sony Pictures Classics)

Synecdoche, New York
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan (Sony Pictures Classics)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz (The Weinstein Company)

The Visitor
Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbas, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira (Overture Films)
Breakthrough Director

Antonio Campos for Afterschool
Dennis Dortch for A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy (Magnolia Pictures)
Lance Hammer for Ballast (Alluvial Film Company)
Barry Jenkins for Medicine for Melancholy (IFC Films)
Alex Rivera for Sleep Dealer (Maya Releasing)
Breakthrough Actor

Pedro Castaneda in August Evening (Maya Releasing)
Rosemarie DeWitt in Rachel Getting Married (Sony Pictures Classics)
Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Company)
Melissa Leo in Frozen River (Sony Pictures Classics)
Alejandro Polanco in Chop Shop (Koch Lorber Films)
Micheal J. Smith, Sr. in Ballast (Alluvial Film Company)

Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You

Afterschool
Antonio Campos, director; Josh Mond, Sean Durkin, producers

Meadowlark
Taylor Greeson, producer/director

The New Year Parade
Tom Quinn, director; Steve Beal, Tom Quinn, producers

Sita Sings the Blues
Nina Paley, producer/director

Wellness
Jake Mahaffy, director; Jake Mahaffy, Jeff Clark, producers
The nominating committees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards announced above are as follows:

Nominating Committee for Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance:
Ty Burr, Film Critic, The Boston Globe
Scott Foundas, Film Editor / Film Critic, LA Weekly
Dave Karger, Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly
Carrie Rickey, Film Critic, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor:
Cynthia Fuchs, Film Critic, PopMatters and NPR.org
Robert Koehler, Film Critic, Variety
Rob Nelson, Film Critic, Minnesota Post
Andrew O’Hehir, Senior Writer, Salon.com

Nominating Committee for Best Documentary:
Cynthia Fuchs, Film Critic, PopMatters and NPR.org
Owen Gleiberman, Film Critic, Entertainment Weekly
Tom Hall, Director of Programming, Sarasota Film Festival
Ronnie Scheib, Film Critic, Variety

Nominating Committee for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™:
Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Media, Museum of Modern Art;
members of the editorial staff of Filmmaker Magazine:
Scott Macaulay (Editor-in-Chief), Nick Dawson, Mary Glucksman, Jason Guerrasio, Brandon Harris, Ray Pride

Mira Nair’s AMELIA, Hilary Swank’s Oscar?

In Press Play on October 18, 2009 at 8:16 PM

amelia Bottom Line: Top-flight portrayal of the aviator
by Hilary Swank is an instant bio classic.

By Ray Bennett, October 18, 2009
Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

LONDON — Freckle-faced, prairie-voiced and fiercely independent, Hilary Swank’s depiction of aviator Amelia Earhart in Mira Nair’s biographical film “Amelia” is of a high order. It ranks with recent real-life portrayals of Ray Charles by Jamie Foxx and Truman Capote by Philip Seymour Hoffman and could be similarly awards-bound.

The classically structured bio will appeal to grown-ups, history buffs and lovers of aeronautics, but in showing how the flier was one of the most lauded celebrities of her time, it also might appeal to youngsters. Smart marketing will expose the film to students and educators, and Swank’s sparkling portrayal could help attract younger women.

Stephanie Carroll’s handsome production design re-creates the 1920s and ’30s vividly, and Stuart Dryburgh’s cinematography captures the wild sensation of being alone high in the sky. Composer Gabriel Yared’s orchestral score — muscular in the aerial scenes, jovial where it needs to be and foreboding in its evocation of Earhart’s fate — ranks with his Academy Award-winning music for “The English Patient.”

The screenplay by Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan is based on two books about Earhart — Susan Butler’s “East to the Dawn” and Elgin Long’s “Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved” — and is almost old-fashioned in its linear path. It provides as much information as is needed for those not familiar with the character without expositional clutter while taking time to show the woman’s no-nonsense approach to intimacy as well as the business of flying.

The script has input from Gore Vidal, who is portrayed as a child in the film by William Cuddy. He became close to Earhart when she had an affair with his father, noted aviation pioneer Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), and there is a charming scene in which she explains to the frightened boy why her bedroom has walls covered in images from the jungle.

The film is framed by Earhart’s ill-fated attempt to fly around the world in 1937 with flashbacks to her introduction to flying and her burst into worldwide fame. Richard Gere plays publisher George Putnam — who promoted her flights and became her very understanding husband — with much charm and is matched by McGregor as Vidal.

Very much her own woman, Earhart not only paved the way for female aviators but helped drive the development of aviation at large. In the process, she became one of the first celebrities to create a major marketing bandwagon with her name slapped on any number of household products.

The business of flying in those days was fraught with peril, however, and the film does a good job of creating suspense during Earhart’s last flight. Christopher Eccleston makes a fine contribution as her navigator.

Most of all, Earhart wanted to be able to fly free as a bird above the clouds, and director Nair and star Swank make her quest not only understandable but truly impressive.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 23 ( Fox Searchlight Pictures)

In conversation with Dilip Mehta

In Red Hot Carpets on October 16, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Photo journalist-turned-director Dilip Mehta talks to tabloid! about his debut film Cooking With Stella

By Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Staff Reporter
Published: 17:45 October 11, 2009

Cooking With Stella is about petty theft, says Dilip Mehta.
Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Photo journalist-turned-director Dilip Mehta talks to tabloid! about his debut film Cooking With Stella

It’s a big night for you. What’s on your mind?

Right now, my back is killing me. And I can’t focus on much else. But seriously, the Middle East has got a large expatriate population. It will be fascinating to watch how people accept my film. Will they be politically correct and say, “What’s the movie really about?” or will they pull an ostrich syndrome act and say, “This doesn’t happen in our neighbourhood.”

How would you categorise Cooking With Stella?

Cooking With Stella is about petty theft. There is a Stella in every one of us and there is a Stella in every Indian household. There is nothing detrimental about it. I am not trying to be didactic. It’s an issue-driven film and we have dealt with it lightly. Look at it this way, it’s set in a country where there is a Mercedes and a cow parked side by side.

What made you choose an upstairs-downstairs comedy like Cooking With Stella?

There is something terribly wrong when people have travelled to the moon and back, but we still have people serving us. The word “servant” should be erased from our lexicon.

‘Fruit & Nut’ Brings Big Humor to Bombay

In Press Play on October 16, 2009 at 11:41 AM

thumb.phpCourtesy of AVSTV.com

By E. Nina Rothe

Alright, alright, so I might be jumping head first into a great big controversy, but chances are those Indo-word centric gundas who have been giving Karan Johar a hard time lately will simply think that I am just another ignorant foreigner. Of course, you all know that is not the case and I am making my own point – and taking a stand in the process – on the use of the word. I have always called the city Bombay and loads of well educated, intellectual, highly special people agree with me. Is the Suketu Mehta book titled ‘Maximum City – Mumbai Lost and Found’? NO! Is the title of Mira Nair’s film ‘Salaam Mumbai’? Again, NO! Is the name of the infamously potent-smelling fish indigenous to the city ‘Mumbai Duck’? Hell NO! So, you see I am in pretty good, not to mention powerfully numerous, company on this.

At the press event for the upcoming Indian Films Studio 18 production ‘Fruit & Nut’, which was held on October 14th at Joss Restaurant in Colaba, there was some seriously wicked fun going on. Part of the entertainment for the evening was a choreographed intrusion by two very convincing Police officers, who would have totally intimidated me into believing they were the real thing, had it not been for their stage make-up glistening in the camera lights. But they came into the posh South Bombay restaurant beating their sticks and accusing the filmmakers of using the word Bombay in the film. Which is quite true, of course, as Boman Irani’s character Maharaja Harry Holkar apparently never even touches on the M version of city’s name…

While the Police incident might have been funny enough on its own, the evening was of course delightfully witty due to the presence of not one, not two, but three of the funniest men in Bombay these days. Of course, the number one title goes to the ever magnetic, ever charming, ever handsome and always funny Boman Irani. The ideal representative of the catchy phrase ‘Less is More’ Irani’s humor and charisma are simply irresistible. On the opposite side of the funny scale stands Cyrus Broacha, who could probably have a special phrase coined for him: ‘Everlasting’. Even in the presence of the stunning Dia Mirza – who sparkled in a cream, sequined and lacy Rocky S short creation – while standing next to the intimidating Irani, Broacha kept on wittily talking, energetically entertaining. He is funny to the max and only takes a moment to regroup, before starting again… For anyone who has seen his roles in both Sooni Taraporevala’s ‘Little Zizou’ – BTW, Ms. Taraporevala was present at the event to support her great friends! –  as well as this year’s ‘99′ you know exactly what I mean.

Pulling it all together for the evening were ‘Fruit & Nut’ director and writer Kunal Vijaykar, who added his own witty charm to the infamous lot, also the big bosses from Indian Films Studio 18 productions – who have truly become a force to be reckoned with – and the musical talent behind the F & N soundtrack, Sangeet & Siddharth Haldipur. The evening was a resounding success, featuring various below the belt jokes about how the film was in dire need of money from the audience, while Boman Irani distributed drink and food vouchers for which he demanded in exchange a payment of 5 rupees each. Of course, ever the gentleman, he offered me a ten rupee note so I could afford to partake.

‘Fruit & Nut’ is a comedy with a central character named Jolly Maker – played by Broacha – who is a simple, hard working middle class struggling bachelor in search of love, money and friends. He works as a clerk and accountant in the office of a corrupt builder. Nerdy and un-stylish, Maker is also quite accident-prone. One day, in broad daylight, Jolly Maker’s beautiful and snobbish colleague Monica gets kidnapped and through a series of comical mishaps, Jolly Maker finds himself in the middle of a plot that has been hatched by an insane Ex- Maharaja. Will Maker finally be the hero in cool Monica’s life? Will Maharaja Harry Holkar be the next Hugh Hefner? Will we all laugh so hard along with the film that we’ll end up crying? Those are all questions you’ll have to answer for yourselves, by watching the film.

’Fruit & Nut’ will be released in India on October 23rd, but for those of us in the US, we’ll have to wait until the middle of November to catch it on DVD. Of course, it will be more than worth the wait! But don’t make me come after you by buying illegal downloads or bootleg copies of the film. Insist on the original DVDs, sold only in reputable shops.

Bombay Summer, India’s eye-opening Indie flick

In Red Hot Carpets on October 16, 2009 at 11:35 AM

1404168081

Courtesy of gulfnews.com

By Manjusha Radhakrishnan

India’s latest indie flick Bombay Summer is an eye-opener which deals with the rapidly changing society of the bustling city.

The stars and director of the new film, Bombay Summer, strutted the MEIFF red carpet in style on Saturday night, bringing the best of serious Indian cinema. tabloid! got a chance to chat with both budding actress Tannishtha Chatterjee and indie filmmaker Joseph Mathew about their exposé of Bombay’s past and present.

In conversation with director Joseph Mathew

How would you describe Bombay Summer?

It captures India in a state of flux where urban India is dealing with rapid changes.

The film is a voice for the young people in India and many find it an eye-opening experience.

They might be surprised to learn that there are nightclubs in India and that youngsters do drink.

Would you change the title of the movie Bombay Summer to Mumbai Summer — if political activists make an issue about it?

No. The movie is a tribute to the city. The movie is about a city that is undergoing change. It’s about the city’s past.

Has recession affected indie filmmakers such as you?

It’s been a tough year. As you know, getting your film distributed is like the holy grail. It is now harder to produce a film. We are in a limbo right now and hopefully things will turn around.

In fact, Bombay Summer was produced by an Middle Eastern investor. But he wishes to remain anonymous.

Did you know?

Mathew says he will consider Bollywood musicals if it’s done his way.

“Bollywood has become so formulaic. There are more than a billion stories to be told, it is hard to do something fresh in Indian cinema. But filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Bharadwaj are making a difference.”

Gritty cinema

Bombay Summer could not have been more aptly titled.The city of Mumbai is captured in all its gritty glory transporting you back to a time when Mumbai was still the bustling Bombay.

It is a tale of the lives and loves of three friends, set against the back-drop of the vibrant metropolis. Entertaining as a whole, the movie proceeds at a languorous pace and takes time to flesh out its characters — Tannishtha Chatterjee (a Mumbai-bred career girl called Geeta), Jatin Goswami (an artist and drug dealer called Madan) and Samrat Chakrabarti (a rich struggling writer called Jaidev).

The shift in the friendship dynamics — when Geeta transfers her affection from her boyfriend Jaidev to artist Madan — is subtly captured.

Although there were moments when things could move at a faster pace, you leave the theatre feeling nostalgic about its characters and, more importantly, Mumbai.

In conversation with Tannishtha Chatterjee

You know her as Naznin from the critically acclaimed British film Brick Lane.

Will we ever see an art-house actor like you in a commercial Bollywood venture?

Of late, Bollywood has a tradition of typecasting actresses. It’s becoming increasingly male-dominated. Hopefully the trend of women playing key roles will return. The day it does, I will consider a commercial Bollywood venture. There was a time when actresses like Nargis, Madhuri Dixit and Kajol used to carry a film on their own shoulders. But that was some time ago.

You were in the movie adaptation of Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. How tough was it to play the multi-layered Bangladeshi immigrant Naznin?

It comes with the good and the bad. It is good that a book gives you an understanding of a character but the readers expect a lot from the movie. But fortunately, I was able to pull it off.

Who is an actor that you admire?

Daniel Day-Lewis. I met him in 2007 at the film festival; at first I didn’t recognise him with the beard and the hat and he had no starry entourage with him. He is one of the few actors who can look different in every movie, he can transform into a different personality each time. Personally, I look for roles that are different from one another, Naznin [in Brick Lane] is the exact opposite of Geeta in Bombay Summer.

UTV + Anurag Kashyap for the next 3 years

In Press Play on October 14, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Courtesy of bollywoodhungama.com

anurag-kashyap

After collaborating on the cult hit Dev D earlier this year, UTV and Anurag Kashyap have once again joined hands. UTV has gone ahead and announced an exclusive association with Anurag Kashyap, for the next 3 years. As a part of the deal signed, Anurag will be directing 4 to 5 movies produced by UTV, and creatively producing another 4 to 5 in this duration. Speaking on this association, Vikas Bahl, COO, UTV Motion Pictures said, “Anurag Kashyap is an extremely talented director, with a unique vision for his projects. There is a clear connect between how we want each of our films to be exceptional and diverse in various aspects and how Anurag treats each of his projects. Dev D, a UTV Spotboy movie directed by Anurag, was a blockbuster and set the base for a phenomenal working relationship. Now, we want to take this association forward with a long term perspective, and that is exactly how this idea came about.” Anurag Kashyap also seemed elated on signing this deal. He said, “I am very happy to sign up with UTV because it gives me the freedom to make the kind of films I want to and I feel UTV supports as well as enhances my creative process. Not only do I enjoy directing for UTV but I also appreciate the support they give to films and other filmmakers in delivering a creative vision that the films demand. Making Dev D was one of the most satisfying experiences and the production and distribution support that I got from UTV was the best I ever had. A repeat of that is always welcome.”

Ways of Seeing – An Old BBC Documentary

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Courtesy of Integral Options Cafe

*Links to additionak parts to first and later episodes can be found here.

Dostana – A Drop in the Ocean

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2009 at 10:58 AM

dostana

Courtesy of EGO Magazine

By E. Nina Rothe

ABCL’s ‘Vihir’ sole Indian film in Pusan competition

In Red Hot Carpets on October 12, 2009 at 11:23 PM

vihir

Courtesy of The Times of India

By Chitra Nair

PUNE: In a proud moment for the Marathi film industry, the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL)-produced first Marathi film Vihir’, is all set to have its world premiere at South Korea’s Pusan festival that begins on October 9 followed by the London film festival on October 15.

Interestingly, the film has also been selected for the competitive category and is the only Indian film to have been selected for the honour this year. Vihir’ is ABCL’s first Marathi venture and is directed by Umesh Kulkarni of Valu’ fame. The film has also been selected for the world cinema competitive category at the London film festival.

The TOI had reported about ABCL’s entry into the Marathi film industry in a report dated June 20 last year. Amitabh Bachchan had confirmed the same on his blog a day later and had called Umesh Kulkarni a “a renowned and decorated director”. “In the past, too, I have encouraged good film makers.

“Two years ago when a Marathi film was selected for the Oscars and the maker did not have the money to go to the USA, we made a substantial monetary contribution so that he could travel and fulfil his obligations in presenting his film to the Academy,” he had written in his blog on June 21, 2008.

Speaking to the TOI here on Friday, Umesh accepted that he knew the expectations from the film would be huge being his first directorial project after his much acclaimed Valu’ and also the first ABCL-produced Marathi film. “I know the audience expects a lot, but I would request the audience to look at both Valu and Vihir’ differently. While Valu’ had a humorous edge to it, Vihir’ is of the serious genre,” he said.

A film that revolves around the lives of two adolescent boys, Sameer and Nachiket, aged 14 years and 15 years, played by Madan Deodhar and Alok Rajwade, respectively, the film speaks of the questions life raises before them. The film also features Mohan Agashe, Renuka Daftardar, Girish Kulkarni, Jyoti Subhash, Amruta Subhash, Sulabha Deshapnde and Ashwini Giri. “The script has been written by Girsih Kulkarni and Sati Bhave, and has been shot in Pune, Satara and Wai. The story is like a game of hide-and-seek about life that these boys face and is shot from their perspective,” said Umesh.

So how involved was Amitabh Bachchan in the making of the film? “He was involved in all the discussions we had regarding the film. But Jaya Bachchan has a larger connection to the film since it was she who had told me during a meeting at our alma-mater, the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), that she would like for us to work together. She had appreciated Valu’ a lot then,” recalled Umesh.

One of the writers and actors of the film, Girish Kulkarni called the film an enriching learning experience. “I’m an outspoken person by nature and so, writing about a topic that had so may layers to it was difficult, but it has turned out well and we are satisfied. Working with Umesh is always great and having worked with him earlier too, we know now what the other is thinking without having to say it. We complement each other,” he smiled.

As for working under the ABCL banner, Girish said that it was a dream come true. “I met Jayaji a few times and she guided us without interfering in the film making process. Both Amitabhji and Jayaji saw the film and they are very happy with it. It is what they were looking for a different film with a different story,” he added. Adding to it, Umesh, too, said that they were given free rein by the ABCL. “There was no interference on their behalf whatsoever,” he said.

The other writer Sati Bhave calls the scrip introspective’. “It is about the sensitivity and the innocence that adolescents have which disappears later on in life. The title of the film Vihir’ too is suggestive of the film’s script. It is indicative of how people who are stuck in life are similar to those in wells and looking up at the sky above. At the same time it is also about the fearless plunge that we make in life,” she said. There is also a straightforward reference to the well, Bhave added, since one of the boys drowns in it.

Bijli Tempted to Grow Inorganically

In In Your Face on October 12, 2009 at 6:00 PM

ajay-bijli

Courtesy of Livemint.com

by Shuchi Bansal

New Delhi: He is uncomfortable being called the pioneer of the multiplex revolution in India, although, he kicked off the trend with the relaunch of Anupam cinema in the Capital as a four-screen film complex in 1997. “It happened by default,” says Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director of PVR Ltd, the Rs350 crore film exhibitions company that builds and operates movie screens—108 at last count—in the country. Last year, PVR’s film distribution subsidiary PVR Pictures entered the production business when it made two decidedly successful films—Taare Zameen Par and Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na—with Aamir Khan.

Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director, PVR Ltd. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director, PVR Ltd. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

A few months ago, the 42-year-old half-marathon enthusiast (he’s currently training for the one coming up in Delhi) also launched Blu-O PVR, its retail entertainment wing that is setting up bowling alleys and skating rinks at select malls. The former rock band player, fitness freak and film buff spoke about his plans and passions. Edited excerpts:There’s been no film from PVR Pictures for close to a year even though it got significant investment after the success of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Jaane Tu…’

Yes, JPMorgan and ICICI Venture invested Rs120 crore in the subsidiary about eight months ago. We haven’t spent the money yet. We’ve been evaluating projects and waiting for creativity and commerce to fall in place. We have now done a two-picture deal with Abhay Deol. Abhay’s films are unique and he comes with Navdeep Singh, the director who made Manorama Six Feet Under. There’s also a two-film deal with Neeraj Pandey, the guy who did A Wednesday!

The plan is to do six-eight films in the financial year 2010-11. The truth is, it is very easy to get excited about a script or a project that comes your way. But we need to evaluate a project from both the budget and the creative point of view. At the end of the day, I have to make JPMorgan and ICICI Ventures, who own 40% in PVR Pictures, happy. For me to say yes, rather for us (my brother Sanjeev and the team) to say yes to something, a lot of things have to fall in place. We are new to the film production business. Exhibition is the backbone of the company.

But it is the exhibition business that showed losses in the first quarter this year.

The Rs10 crore loss is completely attributable to the strike (caused by a spat between multiplex operators and film producers). Out of the 90 days, we shut down the theatres for 44. Our occupancy level fell below 15%. It was quite a disaster.

So PVR Ltd will post a loss at the end of this financial year.

No. The last three quarters will be like any other year. There was a huge pent-up appetite. From New York onwards, the industry hasn’t looked back. Love Aaj Kal, Kambakkht Ishq and now Wake Up Sid have done well. It’s been an incredible run. Occupancy is back to over 45%. Last year we had 18 million people visiting PVR. This year we will have 22 million. It should be a cracker of a Diwali with releases like All The Best and Main aurr Mrs Khanna.

You’ve said that at 23 when you relaunched the family-owned Priya theatre in Delhi, you had no strategy. What’s your strategy today?

My dad gave me the opportunity and the money—Rs40 lakh or so—to redo Priya. When that became successful, I realized the world had moved to multiplexes. But what strategy could I have in that environment? The entertainment tax was very high, ticket prices were controlled and there were no malls. So it was one step at a time. When the first multiplex opened in Delhi in 1997, I sold 20% of my tickets for Rs5.

Today, the company has three verticals—exhibition, film production and distribution, and retail entertainment. The exhibition business is still untapped. We have only covered 14 cities, we could go to another 10. We are opening 44 new screens this financial year including in new cities like Allahabad and Vijayawada.

Do you earn more from popcorn than films at your cinemas?

No. Sixty-six per cent of the revenue comes from ticket sales while food and beverage contributes 23%. Whatever is left is generated from marketing such as on-screen and show window advertising tie-ups.

Are you acquiring DT Cinemas from DLF?

Nothing has happened yet. But the due diligence is done. Inorganic growth is something I get excited about sometimes, but sometimes I worry. In organic growth, you are controlling your destiny. There are so many companies out there… DT is one of them. It has 30 screens or so.

If it happens, it isn’t a bad acquisition.

On the face of it, it looks attractive but the pricing, valuation…everything has to be right. That’s all I can tell you right now. I am always tempted to grow inorganically.

Does the entry of international multiplex chains such as Cinepolis bother you?

No. I have been in this business far too long to panic. We know how hard the terrain is.

Where does your father’s trucking business, Amritsar Transport Co. (ATC), stand in your scheme of things?

My brother and I still own 90% of the business. The remaining 10% is with my cousins who run it. We meet every month. I feel guilty of not growing the business. It is a time management issue. Logistics is big today. But ATC hasn’t gone into the express logistics space like, say, Gati. It is a Rs150 crore business but servicing a different segment.

What kinds of films do you enjoy and where do you like to watch them?

Where I watch a film is a matter of convenience. Increasingly, I find I have less time to go to the theatre. But I saw The Hangover recently and it was embarrassing how much I was laughing. It is hilarious. I watch anything and everything unless the film gets really bad reviews or the theatres are empty.

How about the seriously heavy stuff?

I don’t go that deep. Though I picked up a DVD set of Kurosawa. I watched two movies—Seven Samurai and Rashomon. I didn’t know I had it in me to appreciate these films.

I must mention that I did a course in script-reading in January. I went to LA (Los Angeles) to learn from (screenwriter) Syd Field who customized a course for me—it was a one-on-one as I did not have time to go to college. I used to get homework. I watched two films and read a couple of scripts every day. We discussed these the next day. I have not been able to watch a film in the same way again. I look for “plot points” and I have bored the hell out of everybody else with my analysis.

Are your children interested in the film business.

Yes. My daughter Niharika is 17 and she is ready to go to a film school in the US. We are deciding on which one. My other two children are still young but surprisingly very enthusiastic about the business.

Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

All I can say is that sincerity and integrity are a prerequisite in any business. Also, remember there are no short cuts. You will see my motto in my office. It says: “Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.”

AR Rahman’s Bland Score for Couples Retreat

In Aseem Chhabra on October 12, 2009 at 2:53 PM

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By Aseem Chhabra

Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror

Earlier this year, A R Rahman was discovered by Hollywood and America. He may have worked in the Indian film industry for nearly two decades, composing some of the most memorable film songs of our lifetime. But it took one film – Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire for him to gain fame in the West.

Now, after a couple of Oscars, a Golden Globe, television appearances and several articles, Rahman is back with his first post-Slumdog Hollywood project. Rahman has composed the soundtrack for a new film – Couples Retreat, written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, the writing-acting team that brought us hit films like Swingers, Iron Man, The Break Up and Wedding Crasher.

Unfortunately, Couples Retreat – a story of four couples on a peculiar, new age-like retreat, trying to straighten out issues in their marriages – is a dull, unimpressive film. The dialogues are boring, and it is mostly not funny.

That is too bad because with a cast such as this, Couples Retreat could have been a fun film for the fall season, just before the studios start to burden us with a deluge of the Oscar potential movies. Sometimes, even films with a lot of promise do not work out. We can search for answers, but there is no sense in it. The film should do well in its opening weekend – the big name stars are a draw, and then it will disappear fast from the theatres.

But I went for the press screening of Couples Retreat because of A R Rahman. Having had a taste of his music in the US – from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams, to slick stage shows and then hugging friends at a bar near Times Square when his Oscar wins were announced in February, this was the moment I was waiting for. This was going to be the mainstreaming of the genius musician. He had worked on this project for three months, first in London and then in Los Angeles.

I spent some time listening to the film’s soundtrack on its Web site www.couplesretreatsoundtrack.com. I knew that this was not going to be an Indian soundtrack.

Rahman in an AP interview said that after Slumdog Millionaire, he has started getting work where he can set his own artistic terms.

“Since the Oscars and all the appreciation, people come for what I am,” he said in the interview. Meanwhile, the online site OneIndia quoted the composer as saying, “I’ve reached a stage where I’ve to do new things. There’re so many avenues to be explored. So Couples Retreat will be their (Hollywood) kind of music with my touch, done in my way.”

The music – as we hear on the film’s Web site, is mixed with Caribbean sounds (although most of the film is shot in the Pacific island Bora Bora), but Rahman also uses some Indian touches – a few instruments and voices, including that of Kailash Kher.

The movie was unimaginative, but Rahman has often done great work for films that are flat out bad. If nothing else, we can always say that the songs were really good. But while watching Couples Retreat, I forgot about Rahman’s compositions. It is so much in the background, that it is barely audible. His music does nothing to enhance the situations in the film. It is a complete waste.

Last year, Boyle told me that he admired the loud soaring sounds in Bollywood movies. In Hollywood films, the music tends to be subtler and quieter, he added.

That does not help Rahman’s case in Couple’s Retreat, where his talent is almost unrecognisable.

Why did Rahman take three months, composing music which hardly matters in the film? Why did the producers hire him from the pool of composers in Hollywood? Was Rahman supposed to add prestige to what was perceived as a weak project? And why did Rahman accept this film as his first post-Oscars project? Was it just for money?  And is money that important for Rahman at this stage in his life and career?

These are questions that all of his fans should be asking.

Meet Tim McHenry

In In Your Face on October 9, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Courtesy of Gothamist

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Vital Stats:
– Tim McHenry
– “I am in the bardo of middle age.”
– Grew-up abroad; now lives in “Dry-Cleaning City aka Kips Bay aka the nowhere land between Murray Hill and Gramercy Park.”
– Director of Programming, Rubin Museum of Art
Tim’s World:
Where’d you grow up and get your plummy accent?
Some say I never have, but ostensibly atop a snow-capped country called Switzerland. Plums in the language of the country of my birth are called Zwetschge. Try that with an accent.

As program director at the Rubin Museum, how much coordination do you have with other departments — from the curators to the education program?
The way you put it sounds like I should be organizing rousing games of quoits on deck. There is a little of that in what I do, which is essential to devise and coordinate most of the live happenings in the Museum. We have had 311 of them since we opened.

The RMA’s space went from Barneys to Buddha. Did you need to conduct any special ceremonies to banish any ghosts? Since the original building was entirely refashioned into something much more serene, why choose to retain the steely glass staircase?
Well, as Andy [Warhol] is reputed to have said, “Sooner or later every department store becomes a museum and every museum a department store.” There is no discomfort in straddling both. The staircase is central to the structure of the building but also to the concept of the way the art is perceived.

One of the startling discoveries for me, as I am in charge of the film programs here, was to come across the old discarded footage from Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon some months after we opened. The cut scene is the funeral procession after the High Lama’s death. Torch bearers enter the great Frank Lloyd Wright-style lamasery. The lights from the faggots flicker reflected in the mirrored floor of the great hall. The great procession, including long-horn blowers, monks and other officials of Shangri-La, crosses the hall and continues up a staircase. Giant shadows are thrown up against the wall as they proceed, single file up step after step. The camera then closes in and angles up and you realize that the caravan of mourning is climbing a spiral staircase. Only the tips of the torches can be seen curling up higher and higher around the ever-ascending banister. Not only is the procession mounting the staircase in a clockwise direction – the Buddhist circumambulation of sacred sites does the same — but that the spiral staircase is not circular but elliptical, almost exactly the shape of that of the former Barneys women’s store designed by Richard Blinder and Andree Putman in 1985. There is no way that they would have known of this abandoned footage, but clearly, some sort of karma was at work here.

As a new venue, how challenging has it been drumming up awareness? You’re not in Chelsea’s gallery district, nor on Museum Mile — has your location been a help or a hindrance?
Maybe not Museum Mile, but an extension of Ladies Mile. The creed of real estate is location, location, location. As our position on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 17th Street is so resolutely Chelsea, we have taken advantage of that in the programs by instituting a series called “The Chelsea Connection.” I wanted to show that we could be a museum of Himalayan art as well as a place where the neighborhood could be celebrated. So I invited some of our neighbors to come to the museum to do something special that they hadn’t done elsewhere.

The first to agree was philosopher Peter Singer who engaged writer Lance Morrow on the issue of evil; next were the photographers Robert Polidori who unveiled his never-before published portfolio of the Buddha caves of Sri Lanka; nighttime photographer Patrick McMullan who conducted a public workshop for the first time in his life; Todd Eberle was also slated to come and talk about the North Indian city of Chandigarh and capturing modernism in photographs; Stephen Sebring gave us a sneak preview of his documentary on Patti Smith; Jazz legend Roswell Rudd came and jammed with some Buryat throat-singers; Andrew Sterman premiered some new jazz pieces; Rosanne Cash became the museum’s resident female Buddha by doing six tailor-made acoustic performances in as many months, and the list goes on. It is an artistically rich community. It has been a jamboree

Does the museum become harder to sell to the public because it houses such a specific collection of art — not just Asian, but Himalayan?
There are pros and cons. If we could be described rather generically as an Asian art museum, it would be hard to claim special attention from existing institutions that already have a sizeable and active exhibition policy, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Asia Society. The advantage of showing art from the Himalayas is that nobody else does to the extent and range that we do. I suppose you could call it a niche market. But it is a big niche. Himalayan art is not to be equated with Tibetan art. Nor is it exclusively Buddhist. The Himalayan style is evident as far north as Tuva in Siberia and magnificent examples can be found on the Pacific coast of China. So RMA does cover a large portion of east and south Asia.

This museum has appealed to people who like to discover something new and has proven to be a bit of an eye-opener to most. And then in come the populists like me who look at the current exhibition of “Handprints and Footprints in Buddhist Art” and say, why don’t we have our own DIY version on the street outside? So on Thursdays thru Sundays in the afternoons you will pass by the museum and be invited to place your own handprints and footprints in “the sands of time” — in a sort of Grauman’s Chinese Theater wet-sand pavement. The impressions are photographed and mounted on the rmanyc.org calendar page [click on any program link titled “Footprints in the Sands of Time — be part of a Digital Museum exhibit] as an eternal vs ephemeral visitors page. This art, and the concepts inherent in them lend themselves so wonderfully to interaction.

Not being familiar with the art, we were delighted by the friendly tone of the display cards, “let your eyes wander and catch the twinkle of mica chips.” Is this some conscious effort to be more embracing and instructing?
Just note the Sherlock Holmes touch with the supply of magnifying glasses on each gallery floor. That should answer that one.

What was your own previous knowledge of Himalayan art before joining the staff?
Well, let’s put it this way: I read Heinrich Harrer’s “Seven Years in Tibet” in a single sitting when I was 13. That was it until I got the call to join the Museum in 2003.

One of the RMA’s assets is the flexible theater. Was it the constraints of square footage that required it to be a multi-function space?
The theater has a flat auditorium floor, not a raked one. One of the great drawbacks to construction in Chelsea is the fact that this very flat part of Manhattan was, originally, marshland. There are hundreds of little rivers running underground. It proved too costly to dig down to create a raked theater and divert all these courses. But I took advantage of the flat floor by instituting a cabaret-style approach to talks and films, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if the floor were raked and the theater seating anchored in place. We can arrange the seating any which way. As a result one of the most agreeable programs is the “Cabaret Cinema.” It always seemed so uncivilized to go to movies and find that all one could eat and drink was unpalatably bad for you. So every Saturday night at 7 you can come to RMA and for just $12 base charge for your food and drink (and I mean real drinks like lychee martinis and the like) you can see a film for free AND gain admission to the Museum’s galleries for free. It is a great deal, actually.

The museum is open until 9 on Thursdays and Fridays. What advantage do those late hours provide?
We always have programs in the theater on Thursdays and Fridays, but there are also thematic tours of the galleries that visitors can take advantage of. Oh, and there is a 2-for-1 cocktail deal at the bar on Fridays. And you don’t have to visit the galleries to take advantage of that.

There’s an incredible amount of film programming — next month ranges from Jurassic Park to Princess Mononoke in conjunction with the “Eternal Presence” exhibit. How out of the box do you get when select the schedule?
I think more than a few eyebrows were raised when we showed Caddyshack as part of our “Hollywood in the Himalayas” film series. But it was “Cabaret Cinema,” and we certainly got a drinking crowd.

Buddhism is all about thinking out of the box. My job is primarily to allow people to draw contemporary associations from the art and recognize its relevance to who we are now. “Cabaret Cinema” has already got its hardcore of regulars. There is a cinema quiz every time, and the winners get to come back the next week without having to pay the bar minimum of $12. But because the films are deliberately diverse – Abbott and Costello one week; Le Retour de Martin Guerre the next — the attendance varies quite considerably. Sometimes I will pair a feature film with a documentary like we did [Tara’s Daughters] with The Inn of the Sixth Happiness and that combination sold out.

The slogan of the series is “where movies and martinis mix.” We usually have a guest to introduce the film: Lowell Dingus, the renowned paleontologist is bringing in some velociraptor fossils by means of introduction to Jurassic Park on July 2; New Yorker dance critic and Chelsea resident Joan Acocella is introducing The Red Shoes on July 16; and Jane Lahr, Bert “Cowardly Lion” Lahr’s daughter is coming to talk about The Wizard of Oz on August 13, which happens to be Bert Lahr’s birthday.

The RMA launched last fall with an ambitious 100 programs in 100 days that included outreach to local schools as well as the participation of guests like Rosanne Cash. Has it been difficult to get people to come onboard and participate in the programming?
Persuading an artist like Rosanne Cash to perform acoustically, without any amplification whatsoever took some wooing, but she is so open to experiment and such a consummate professional that once she bought into the idea I could not have found a stronger advocate for the pure bliss of not having to do four-hour sound checks! Most artists have embraced the concept of this Museum so readily that it has not been too difficult. The enemy is really scheduling more than anything else.

Last spring, protesters gathered at opening of the traveling exhibit “Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World.” What stance (if any) does the museum take on the current situation between China and Tibet?
It may sound a little facile to say that “art knows no boundaries.” It is only true in the sense that most art can be appreciated on some level without recourse to language and background culture. But the one thing art can do as a medium is foster dialogue, and talking keeps the door ajar for improvement of relations. Maybe the museum can serve as a cultural meeting ground at that level. On principle I strongly believe in independence of choice of content. It was ironic that while the Students for Free Tibet were outside protesting an exhibition that exemplified for them the Chinese government’s appropriation of Tibetan culture, one of the leaders of that organization was inside the Museum introducing that evening’s Cabaret Cinema presentation of Paul Wagner’s contentious film Windhorse.

Given your proximity to the art, do you feel more serenity?
Being creative and active is what makes me happy.
Ten things to know about Tim:

What’s the best thing you’ve ever purchased/salvaged off the street?
The perfect sized Starbucks coffee cup within arm’s reach when I had forgotten to bring a plastic bag with me to pick up my Collie’s gutter offerings.

Which city establishment sees more of your paycheck than you do?
I try not to think about that.

Gotham Mad Lib: When the ______ (noun) make me feel like ______ (adverb), I like to ______ (verb). (Strict adherence to “Madlib” rules is not required.)
When the ubiquitous summer “streetfairs” make me feel like overturning the tables of tube socks like Christ with the moneylenders, I like to take the subway instead.

Personality Problem Solving: Would you consider your personality more hysterical or more obsessive, and have you changed since living in New York; has “New York” become a part of you?
Since living in New York I have also formed a relationship, and that has provided a few solutions. So yes, you can say that a New Yorker is part of me.

NYC Confessional : Do you have a local guilty pleasure?
The number of reflexology parlors I indulge in.

When you just need to get away from it all, where is your favorite place in NYC to be alone, relish in solitude and find your earthly happiness? (We promise not to intrude.)
I don’t need NYC for that.

Assuming that you’re generally respectful of your fellow citizens, was there ever a time when you had to absolutely unleash your inner asshole to get satisfaction?
Yes, when accused by a plainclothes police officer of jumping the turnstiles. It didn’t do me any good.

Describe that low-low moment when you thought you just might have to leave NYC for good.
When I thought I would never get a green card. But I did, and now I am deemed an “extraordinary alien.”

Besides more square footage, what luxury would you most like to have in your apartment?
A balcony. The European touch.

There are 8 Million stories in The Naked City. Tell us one, but try to keep it to a New York Minute.
This one’s about synchronicity. In New York you see what you think you see. Vanessa Williams had opened in a revival of Sondheim’s Into the Woods on Broadway. While her transformation from gnarled witch into bodacious black beauty was convincing, she unfortunately didn’t command the vocal range for the part, so this witch didn’t quite fly.

The next morning I was making for the subway and passing through Curry Hill. Streetwalkers make a seasonal appearance here. It was the tall “blonde” but otherwise black temptress in white latex boots mounted on platform heels that attracted my attention. While her boots were cut off at the knee, her jeans were cut off high up on the thigh. Scrutinizing a New York prostitute while striding past cannot take a New York minute, and in the fleeting seconds that I had, I noticed delicately filigreed stenciling poke out from between the frayed strands of her jean shorts. It was a purple tattoo made maroon against her dark smooth skin. In gothic lettering it read, “Witch.” Ding dong.
The Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 W. 17th Street at 7th Avenue. The museum is closed on Mondays, but otherwise opens daily at 11 AM with different closing times throughout the week. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, students and artists (with ID), and $5 for residents of 10011 and 10001 zip codes (with ID). Children under 12 get in for free. For more information, call 212/620-5000 or visit the website at www.rmanyc.org. And don’t forget to go to “Cabaret Cinema” every Saturday at 7 PM ($12), “Where movies and martinis meet!”

— Interview by Lily Oei and Aaron Dobbs

— Photograph by Liz Brown

PNC Films at SAIFF

In Red Hot Carpets on October 9, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Shishir Chhetri October 9 at 6:22am

Raat-Gayi-Baat-GayiThe prestigious South Asian International Film Festival in New York, to be held between October 28th to Nov 3rd will have a red carpet premiere for an Indian feature, Fatso!, a romcom from the house of by Pritish Nandy Communications. A romantic comedy, Fatso is director Rajat Kapoor’s fourth film, after Raghu Romeo, Mixed Doubles and Mithya, all of them critically acclaimed. Fatso will be releasing globally in January while Raat Gayi Baat Gayi will be releasing worldwide on December 11.

PNC’s Raat Gayi Baat Gayi will also be screened at SAIFF in the competitions category. Producer Pritish Nandy and directors Rajat Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla will attend the event in New York as special invitees of the festival and joining them on the red carpet will be members of the film’s ensemble cast, Ranvir Shorey, Gul Panag, Purab Kohli, Gunjan Bakshi and Neel Bhopalan.

For more info visit www.saiff.org

A Heart as Big as the World: The Films of Guru Dutt (Oct.7-11)

In Uncategorized on October 7, 2009 at 12:26 AM
NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2009-MASTERWORKS

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About The New York Film Festival:
The New York Film Festival is presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center. The 2009 Festival marks the 47th edition and runs from September 25th to October 11th. The Festival showcases new works by both emerging talents and internationally recognized artists, including numerous New York, U.S., and world premieres. Last year’s festival screened Cannes film Festival Palme d’Or winner The Class, and the Academy Award-nominated films The Wrestler, Changeling, and Waltz with Bashir, as well as showcasing a touring retrospective on Japanese auteur Nagisa Oshima.

Under the leadership of Mara Manus, Executive Director, and Richard Peña, Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center offers the best in international, classic and cutting-edge independent cinema. The Film Society presents two film festivals that attract global attention: the New York Film Festival, now in its 47th year, and New Directors/New Films which, since its founding in 1972, has been produced in collaboration with MoMA. The Film Society also presents the Latinbeat Film Festival, publishes the award-winning Film Comment Magazine, and for over three decades has given an annual award – now named “The Chaplin Award” – to a major figure in world cinema.  Past recipients of this award include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com.

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Complete Schedule

Aar-Paar (Heads or Tails)
Guru Dutt, India, 1954; 146m
Losing his job and family over a night in jail for speeding, Bombay taxi driver Kalu (Dutt) tries to reinvent himself as a mechanic. But all-too soon, he looks up the underworld contacts he made in prison. With the Guru Dutt creative team fully assembled—including screenwriter Abrar Alvi, cinematographer V. K. Murthy, and composer O.P. Nayyar—Aar-Paar was a huge success, ultimately establishing Dutt’s career image: the romantic outsider, cut off from the networks of caste, family, and class and, consequently, the master of his own fate. Thu Oct 8: 8:50pm

Baaz (The Hawk)
Guru Dutt, India, 1953; 145m
When Nisha (Geeta Bali), the daughter of a wealthy Indian merchant, is kidnapped and sold into slavery by the Portuguese General Barborosa, she leads a mutiny and turns her supposed prison, the Baaz, into the most fearsome predator on the Seven Seas. A heady mix of swashbuckling romance and anti-colonial sentiment, Baaz shows off Dutt’s innovations in blending musical numbers into the story’s action, not to mention his standout performance as Prince Ravi, the initially reluctant actor’s first starring role. Thu Oct 8: 6:00pm

Baazi (The Gamble or A Game of Chance)
Guru Dutt, India, 1951; 143m
Dutt debuted as a director with this noir-inflected crime thriller. An out-of-work taxi driver turned card shark (Dev Anand) attracts the attention of a cabaret dancer (Geeta Bali) at the Star Club, a notorious underworld hangout. But he only has eyes for Rajani (Kalpana Kartik), a young doctor who harbors her own dark secret. The film’s remarkable stylistic and technical confidence proved so influential that other filmmakers later referred to its frequent tight close-ups as Guru Dutt shots. Wed Oct 7: 9:15pm

Chaudhvin Ka Chand (Full Moon)
M. Sadiq, India, 1960; 168m
Feeling that a Muslim story deserved a Muslim director, Dutt entrusted this project to an old friend who had fallen on hard times, Mohammed Sadiq. The result is a provocative love story built on the Muslim tradition purdah—the veiling of women to all men outside of the immediate family—as a wealthy young man in love escapes tradition by convincing his best friend to marry his mother’s choice for him, with tragic consequences. Dutt clearly influenced the filming of Full Moon’s musical sequences and also served as producer and co-star. Oct 10: 12:30pm

In Search of Guru Dutt
Nasreen Munni Kabir, UK, 1989; 85m
Few have done more to spotlight the unique achievements of Guru Dutt than filmmaker and writer Nasreen Munni Kabir. Produced for the U.K.’s Channel 4, this highly informative look at the Dutt’s life and art is peppered with generous clips from many of the director’s films. It also features fascinating interviews with his siblings and collaborators (screenwriter Abrar Alvi, cinematographer V.K. Murthy, actress Waheeda Rehman), as well as contemporary film directors Shyam Benegal and Mani Kaul. Sun Oct 11: 12:30pm

Kaagaz Ke Phool (Paper Flowers)
Guru Dutt, India, 1959; 153m
A passionate film about filmmaking, Paper Flowers follows a successful director who sacrifices all he’s earned for a chance at true love. Dutt and his faithful cinematographer V.K. Murthy consistently undermine the sense of space—creating the illusion of openness as characters become more trapped in their worlds—while a fractured treatment of time led some critics to regard the film as India’s Citizen Kane. Sadly, this now-celebrated work was a box-office disaster, and Guru Dutt would never again take directorial credit for his work. Fri Oct 9: 3:00pm  Sun Oct 11: 5:30pm

Mr. & Mrs. ’55
Guru Dutt, India, 1955; 157m
Following on the great success of Aar-Paar—and now a considerable film star himself—Guru Dutt ventured into this screwball-flavored comedy alongside one of India’s most celebrated stars, Madhubala. Poor little rich girl Anita plans to marry and immediately divorce the first fool she meets, allowing her to inherit her late father’s considerable fortune while remaining free. Enter Preetam (Dutt), an impoverished cartoonist tailor made for the scheme. But will true love make an unexpected appearance? Dutt brings an extraordinary sense of visual invention to the film, especially in the musical sequences. Fri Oct 9: 9:15pm

Pyaasa (Thirst or The Thirsty One)
Guru Dutt, India, 1957; 146m
If Guru Dutt had only made Pyaasa, his honored place in cinema would still have been assured. This achingly powerful melodrama rails against the growing hypocrisy and callous indifference of contemporary Indian society, as a poet (Dutt) is taken from abject failure and destitution to runaway success tempered by the incorrect belief that he is dead. Dutt handles the many intricacies of his multiple plots with impressive dexterity, containing his social critique within a moving human drama. Wed Oct 7: 6:00pm
Sun Oct 11: 2:30pm

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (Master, Mistress and Servant)
Abrar Alvi, India, 1962; 152m
Directed by Dutt’s longtime screenwriter Abrar Alvi, Master, Mistress and Servant (“slave” in some translations) won four prestigious Filmfare awards, including Best Film, yet proved only a moderate commercial success. As in Paper Flowers, a rich period drama is told through flashbacks: an architect (Dutt) arrives in Calcutta, meets the beautiful young woman helping to manage his wealthy relatives’ estate (Meena Kumari), and, through her sadness, witnesses the end of India’s upper class. It became Guru Dutt’s final significant work: He died just over a year later, at age 39. Fri Oct 9: 12:00pm  Sun Oct 11: 8:20pm


What’s playing when
Wednesday, Oct. 7
6:00      Pyaasa
9:15      Baazi

Thursday, Oct. 8
6:00      Baaz
8:50      Aar-Paar

Friday, Oct. 9
12:00    Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam
3:00      Kaagaz Ke Phool
9:15      Mr. & Mrs. ’55

Saturday, Oct. 10
12:30    Chaudhvin Ka Chand

Sunday, Oct. 11
12:30    In Search of Guru Dutt
2:30      Pyaasa
5:30      Kaagaz Ke Phool
8:20      Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

all times p.m.


The 60th Berlin International Film Festival

In Red Hot Carpets on October 7, 2009 at 12:14 AM

Important Dates

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October 29, 2009 –  Deadline for project submissions to the 7th Berlinale Co-Production Market

October 30, 2009 – Deadline for film entries for the festival (feature length films)

November 16, 2009 – Deadline for film entries for the festival (short films)

December 15, 2009 – Application deadline for accreditations

For more information visit berlinale.de

Bombay Summer will remain my film’s title

In In Your Face on October 5, 2009 at 11:08 PM

PRIYANKA DASGUPTA , TNN 5 October 2009, 12:01am IST

Karan Johar’s eagerness to kowtow before Raj Thackeray on the eve of the release of Wake Up Sid has generated a national debate.

b-summersynopsisWhile some think it’s judicious of Johar to have not risked his crores by getting into an argument over the use of the word ‘Bombay’, there is a section that would liken the move to a smart publicity gimmick. But New York-based director Joseph Mathew-Varghese, whose Hindi film titled Bombay Summer starring Tannishtha Chatterjee, Samrat Chakrabarti and Jatin Goswami is doing the festival rounds now, isn’t willing to follow in Johar’s footsteps.

Speaking from the US, the director says, “I’ll never change the English title of my film. One of the main goals for making my first narrative film is that I want to show India in transition. The city of Bombay forms the backdrop of my film. There are images of an abandoned textile mill and a chawl. They stand for all that Bombay was. Ten years down the line, one might not even get to see all these.”

bombay-summerBS has been screened at the Hamburg Film Festival and is in competition this week at the Middle East International Film Festival. Prior to that, it had a screening at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles. “Most Indian films who make it to the international film festivals are there in the gala section. It feels good to have my film accepted in competition. Claire Denis’ White Material and Dilip Mehta’s Cooking with Stella are also in competition here. After Abu Dhabi, my film travels to the San Diego Asian Film Festival before being screened at the Hawai International Film Festival,” Joseph goes on with a long list of international festivals before informing that the Indian premiere of the film will be held in Goa at the Indian Film Festival.

b-summerscreeningsWhile BS is produced in America, Joseph insists that it is a purely Indian film that focusses on modern India. “My film doesn’t fit into the category that Westerners have slotted most Indian films in. Most Indian films to have reached out to the West have explored social issues. I am not saying that such points of view about India are invalid. But India also has millions of different stories to narrate. BS takes a peek at urban India in a state of flux.” And in many ways, it isn’t the India that one will see in Julia Roberts starrer Eat, Pray, Love. “I understand that there is a vision of India embraced in the West that highlights the ashrams. But that’s not the only India. When I grew up in Trivandrum in the 80s, all my women friends were very self-confident and assertive. However, the films I watched didn’t feature these kind of Indian women. When I decided to make my first narrative feature, I wanted my protagonist to have a strong personality. Yet, her character isn’t larger than life. She, like all the other characters in the movie, has her own failings.” The protagonist deftly balances work, family, and an affair with a struggling writer till she interviews a painter. Soon the trio discovers shared interests and becomes fast friends. The film takes a turn when the girl gets drawn to the artist, who has a passion that is somewhat lacking in the writer.

samrat-bsummerSince accolades in India is as important for Joseph as those from the foreign shores, how would be react to requests of changing the name of the film to ‘Mumbai Summer’ when the film releases in Mumbai? “BS has been touring the festivals with this title. ‘Mumbai Summer’ does not ring a bell. Every artiste should have the freedom to make his or her own social commentary. There is no point shutting up people. I might not even use the name Bombay or Mumbai in the Hindi title but I’ll certainly not change the English title of my film,” Joseph signs off.

For more information about the film visit Bombay Summer