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Film Bazaar's Co-Production Market: Pitch Perfect?

by Rutwij Nakhwa


The Bazaar kick-started with the Co-Production Market’s Open Pitch where 19 selected projects from eight countries presented video pitches seeking co-production, funding, sales and distribution

This year’s selection embodies an eclectic mix of themes, topics, and voices across languages and genres. Two projects delve into the exciting field of Virtual Reality (VR). From the USA and Bangladesh is Rezwan Shahriar Sumit’s ‘A New Prophet’ (Bengali, English), which follows a compulsive gamer turned pious techie, who aims to bring his disillusioned family back to Allah, using his design of an immersive journey through heaven and hell. While from India, Kabir Mehta’s (‘Buddha.mov’) ‘VR Peon’ (Hindi) is aiming at a balancing act between comedy and science fiction, predicting a future where VR would be indiscernible from reality. The protagonist is Samir, a lousy office peon who chances on a job as a new-age VR test subject. This, he hopes will be his ticket out of squalor. Meanwhile, his aging wife desperately wants to get pregnant. When it becomes clear that Samir is sterile, their last resort is a baby in VR.

‘Amar Colony’ (Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali) is set in a fictitious chawl of the same name, which is blessed by gods makes its inhabitants immortal, as long as they are inside the edifice. Produced and directed by Siddharth Chauhan, the project centers on three individuals trapped in their mundane existence and the possibilities created by this mystical chawl. Death is the focus in the Sri Lankan project, ‘A Bend in the Coffin’ (Sinhalese), when an old man dies, but with a persistent erection, which his two sons are desperate to cover up in time for the burial. Director Ilango Ramanathan and producer Hiranya Perera’s whose first film ‘Scent of a Dead Body’, was in 2017 Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market, will join forces again for this one.

American Film Institute alumnus, Shuchi Talati, is developing her debut feature ‘Girls will be Girls’ (English, Hindi), with Mumbai actor Richa Chadha (‘Masaan’) onboard as the producer on a potentially all-woman team. Set in a conservative boarding school with a climate of sexual repression, the film explores a bizarre triangle, when Mira falls in love with Sri and experiences a sexual awakening, but her mother increasingly starts competing for the boy’s attention.

Dominic Sangma’s debut ‘Ma.Ama’ was presented in the Bazaar’s 2017 Work-in-Progress Lab and recently screened in MAMI Mumbai Film Festival’s International Competition. His next ‘Bichal Sal’ (Rapture), again an India-China production in Garo language, delves into a forest where villagers throng at night to collect a rare exotic delicacy that emerges once every four years. Starting with a 16-year-old boy, are a series of disappearances amidst rumours of an organ-transplant racket. Meanwhile, a statue of Virgin Mary miraculously appears, signaling 80 days of darkness for the villagers to repent from worldly sins. ‘Ma.ama’ producer Jianshang Xu from China will return. Indian director-producer Sange Dorjee Thongdok, who put his Sherdukpen tribe of Arunachal Pradesh on the cinematic world-map, is working on yet another project that explores their distinctive culture. In ‘Lonak’ (The Dark Year, Hindi) a disgraced, alcoholic police officer relegated to a remote mountain town, investigates a murder amidst rumours of a mythical creature, the Greptu, which has risen from the depths of the forest as the dark year has started.

Jatla Siddharth who directed the festival-hit ‘Love and Shukla’ is working on ‘In the Belly of a Tiger’ (Hindi) with his regular collaborator, producer Amanda Mooney. The project was awarded Busan’s Asian Cinema Fund for Script Development and is set in a village where being killed by a tiger to seek government compensation has become the most viable idea for financial survival. Whereas, seasoned producers Abhishek Chaubey and Honey Trehan are backing another tiger tale in Rahil Ahmed Patel’s ‘Hinterland’ (Hindi), which follows the travails of three tribal brothers in the once celebrated but now illegal profession of tiger poaching in Ranthambore.

Director of another festival traveller ‘Light in the Room’, Rahul Riji Nair changes gear to direct a Malayalam sports drama ‘Kho-Kho’ on a high school girls team with a gifted teenager and their coach with a tragic past, who fights to save the sport, the school, and their lives.

For a list of  all the projects in the Co-Production Market: https://filmbazaarindia.com/pdf/2018/cpm/CPM_SelectedProjects_2018.pdf