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Two Indian filmmakers to receive IFFR’s Hubert Bals Fund

by Mignonne D’souza


Payal Kapadia and Dominic Sangma will receive a grant of €9,000 each, for Script and Project Development of their feature films.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) presents the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) twice each year, to remarkable or urgent feature films by filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe on their road to completion. This spring, two of the 12 innovative and talented filmmakers who will benefit from the Script and Project Development scheme are Indian. Payal Kapadia and Dominic Sangma will both receive this grant under the Bright Future section — for feature films by debut and second-time filmmakers.

Mumbai-based Kapadia is acclaimed for her 2017 Cannes’ Cinefondation selection ‘Afternoon Clouds’, and her experimental documentary ‘And What is the Summer Saying’ which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival last year. Her debut feature project, 'All We Imagine as Light' is an Indian-French coproduction by Zico Maitra in India and Thomas Hakim (Petit Chaos), France. “The film is about two immigrant nurses who work in Mumbai and go on a road trip to the beach to the Konkan coast. I had started working on the idea many years ago, and when I tried to write a short film script for it, I realised it was a much bigger project!”, Kapadia shares.

The film first began development at the PJLF Three Rivers Residency in Rome last year. It follows Prabha who receives an unexpected gift from her estranged husband that throws her life into disarray and her younger roommate Anu who tries in vain to find a spot in the city to be intimate with her boyfriend. One day they go on a road trip to a beach town where the mystical forest becomes a space for their dreams to manifest.

The filmmaker-artist says, “The Hubert Bals fund is a really important and prestigious fund for an independent filmmaker like myself. It provides great initial funding for the project, and will hopefully open up more opportunities for additional funding. For my first feature film project, I could not have asked for a better start.” Kapadia studied Film Direction at the Film & Television Institute of India was selected for the Berlinale Talents Campus earlier this year.

Dominic Sangma’s second feature ‘Rapture’ (Rimdogittanga) was mentored by Mira Nair at the La Fabrique des Cinema du Monde (Cinemas of the World) programme by Institut Francais held at the Cannes Film Market in May. The project will now receive a €9,000 grant, like Kapadia.


‘Rapture’ centres on a village gripped by a two-pronged fear. As the church prophesies the coming of apocalyptic darkness, there is talk of a child kidnapper stalking the streets at night. The villagers frantically prepare to tackle these impending fears, but the kidnapper becomes more aggressive with each passing night. Slowly their fear turns to fury, and when they catch a stranger visiting the village, something is lost in translation. They lynch him to vent their anger. The film, co-produced by Chinese producer Xu Jianshang, Samir Sarkar of Magic Hour Films and Sangma’s Anna Films, the film will be made in the little known Garo-language, spoken in parts of Sangma’s native state, Meghalaya. It was also the language of his debut feature last year, ‘Ma’Ama’ (Moan), which premiered at Mumbai’s MAMI in international competition.

An SRFTI graduate, Sangma spent two years with the National Film Development Corporation in India before opening his own production company, Anna Films. His diploma film, ‘Rong.kuchak’ (Echoes) won India’s National Student Film Award for Best Short in 2014 and the following year, 2015, a Special Mention at the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival in Venice, 2015.

IFFR’s HBF, under its various schemes, has benefitted a number of Indian filmmakers’ projects in the past including Arun Karthick’s Tamil film ‘Nasir’, which like ‘Rapture’ is also produced by Sarkar, and the highly acclaimed 2012 Marathi film, Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘Court’.