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MAMI winner ‘Mehsampur’ opens Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival

Team OGS


The Grand Jury Prize winner in the 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star’s India Gold competition, Kabir Chowdhry’s mocumentary ‘Mehsampur’ will open the 8th edition of the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival (VISAFF), held November 22 – 25, 2018.

After competing with a WIP cut at the Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Poland (May 11 - 20), the Punjabi language meta-narrative feature had its world premiere in at the 65th Sydney International Film Festival (June 6 - 17). It then screened at the 9th London Indian Film Festival (June 21 - 29) and the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star (October 25 – November 1). Chowdhry’s debut work follows a foolhardy, adventurous filmmaker (played by the film’s cinematographer Devrath Joshi), bent on tracking the popular Punjabi folk singers Amar Singh Chamkila and his wife Amarjot, who were assassinated by militants in 1988 in Mehsampur village. The duo’s realistic projection of Punjab in their songs were taken as derogatory and obscene by some. The film moves on to the director’s interaction with a struggling actress (Navjot Randhawa) who is to feature in his film as well as a local who was Chamkila’s drum player (the only one who survived the assassination). ‘Mehsampur’ will have its North American premiere as a Gala Presentation at VISAFF, and the director will be at the festival for a QnA.

Closing the three-day festival is Nandita Das’ Manto, which after its world premiere at this year’s Cannes has had the most prestigious festival run with Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Busan and BFI London Film Festival, among others. The biopic follows the most tumultuous years in the life of iconoclastic writer Saadat Hasan Manto and those of the newly divided countries of India and Pakistan that he inhabited and chronicled.

 Nawazuddin Siddiqui in 'Manto'

Apart from these highlights, VISAFF’s program includes 45 films from 6 different countries in up to eight languages. With a reputation of showcasing stories under-represented in mainstream cinema, the festival presents a program of features, shorts, web series, music videos and documentaries of a wide variety.

Other Indian titles in the feature program includes Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s Shonar Pahar (The Golden Mountain), a Bengali film on the unique journey of Upama and Bitlu who are rediscovering relationships in life; Danish Renzu’s Kashmiri conflict drama, Half Widow, about a young woman who must come to grips with the disappearance of her doting husband and embarks on harrowing journey of self-discovery; Sandeep Modhi’s Marathi film Chumbak (The Lottery) on a busboy with big dreams, standing at the crossroad of aspirations and morals.

A still from 'Half Widow'

The festival’s short film package includes Indian titles like Rishi Chandna’s short doc, Tungrus; Priyanka Singh’s Maun (Silence); Kinjal Majumdar’s Dear Me; Tathagata Gosh’s The Demon; Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer’s Bhairava; Rahul M M’s Birds Of Paradise; Prem Singh’s Katran; Rahul Srivastava’s Itwaar; Chintan Sarda’s Shunyata.

 A still from Rishi Chandna's 'Tungrus'

In addition, there are two shorts and a web series from the USA with inherently Indian subjects. In Sudeshna Sen’s Mehndi (USA), amidst the colourful flurry of a traditional bridal shower, two girls on the threshold of womanhood share a secret that could alter their lives forever; Sangeeta Agrawal’s 5 o'clock Shadow (USA) is on a racially abused, Indian-American mother as she questions her place in the world. Meenakshi Ramamurthy’s web-series The Fob and I about two Indian cousins (one raised in India, one raised in America) who move in together, for better or worse.

A still from Sudeshna Sen’s 'Mehndi'