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Rotterdam 2019: ‘Widow of Silence’ in Voices, ‘Dengue’ in the NFF+HBF Co-development Scheme

by Rutwij Nakhwa


The first wave of Indian presence at Rotterdam includes Praveen Morchhale’s feature ‘Widow of Silence’ and Prantik Basu’s feature film project ‘Dengue’ in the NFF+HBF Co-development Scheme.

Each year, the International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) offers a quality line-up of carefully selected fiction and documentary features, short films and media art with a focus on recent work by talented new filmmakers. The festival also supports adventurous filmmaking talent through its co-production market (CineMart), the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF), Rotterdam Lab and other industry activities.

‘Widow of Silence’ is set in conflict-ridden Kashmir, and follows a Muslim “half-widow”, i.e. a woman whose husband has been missing indefinitely, who finds herself in dire straits. Unable to obtain her missing husband’s death certificate from the authorities, and with the responsibility of her young daughter and ill mother-in-law, she must find the strength to overcome her plight. The film premiered at the 2018 Busan International Film Festival where Morchhale was nominated for the Kim Ji-seok Award. ‘Widow of Silence’ then screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala’s International Competition and will now screen in Rotterdam’s “Voices” segment, which spotlights filmmakers with a distinctive, confident viewpoint.

Earlier this autumn, eleven projects were selected by the Hubert Bals Fund for Script and Project Development. Now, with the financial support for five of these projects being earmarked, their grants will come from the NFF+HBF Co-development Scheme. One of the five projects is Prantik Basu’s first feature-length film, ‘Dengue’, the story of an unlikely romance set in Kolkata. Basu’s short film ‘Sakhisona’ had won Rotterdam’s Tiger Short Award in 2017. The Co-development Scheme annually contributes € 100,000 to the HBF Script and Project Development scheme, which is a collaboration between the Netherlands Film Fund (NFF) and IFFR.

Hopefully, this just marks the beginning of the Indian selection at Rotterdam, with a lot more still under wraps.