India is mostly participating at the side events of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival as there is no contribution to the official screening this year.
The Indian pavilion at the ongoing Cannes festival was inaugurated on May 15 with the release of a special poster for the golden jubilee of International Film Festival of India (IFFI), by Amit Khare, secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Jerome Paillard, executive director, Marche du Film, Cannes film market. Prasoon Joshi, chairman, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), National award winning filmmaker Rima Das along with celebrity chef-turned-director Vikas Khanna and music maestro A R Rahman were also present for the inaugural ceremony. Along with the release of the IFFI poster, a comprehensive Film Guide was given out to showcase the importance of film ecosystem and government incentives to shoot in India.
Khare in his address spoke about the growing trends in India’s media and entertainment industry. He also highlighted the growing importance of regional cinema in the country; the increasing role of states in giving incentive to shoot films, which is an outcome of the realisation of interconnect between films, tourism and economy; and the ever increasing focus on technology like Animation and Virtual Reality.
The Indian Pavilion is set to showcase Indian cinema across linguistic, cultural and regional diversity, with the aim of forging international partnerships in distribution, production, filming in India, script development, technology, promoting film sales and syndication. The Pavilion will also serve as an information dissemination point about India and Indian Cinema for the global film community.
Joshi while addressing a session at the Pavilion admitted that India required more creative presence in the Cannes Film Festival. He said,”Business efforts are definitely needed, networking is also required but nothing could be better than greater creative participation in the festival.” He also emphasised the feeling that the Pavilion in the Festival serves as “a home away from home” for Indian movie industry professionals who attend the event.
During the delegation meeting with Film Commissioners of participating countries, India was positioned as an attractive filming destination with easy procedures of obtaining permissions for filming in India. Israel proposed India to be the focus country in Jerusalem Film Festival 2020 as the Israeli delegation highlighted the hype created by Hindi movie Newton in their country. They also proposed the idea of making concept based films in India, with a focus on regional and small budget films.
Notable Indian presence at Cannes
Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna had a special screening of his directorial debut movie The Last Color at Marche du Film Section at the film jamboree on May 16. Preceding the screening he attended the masterclass ‘Life through a Different Lens’. He was also a part of ‘Power of Imagination-in Conversation with Vikas Khanna’ at the India Pavillion.
Khanna had said in a statement, “I feel honoured to be a part of ‘Life through a Different Lens’ along with Julianne Moore and other eclectic filmmakers and artists inspite of just being one film old.” He has a special connection with the festival as even his documentary Kitchens of Gratitude was featured at Marche du Film during the 69th Cannes Film Festival.
The movie The Last Color featuring veteran actress Neena Gupta and child actress Aqsa Siddiqui is a tale of love and friendship between a widow and a young girl from times when Indian culture exiled its widows in the ashram and forbade them from participating in social events. The film was a part of the opening night of Atlanta India International Film Festival and was also showcased at the closing night of New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) on Mother’s Day this year.
Music maestro A R Rahman is also going to present a musical experience from his directorial debut Le Musk, titled ‘Scent of a Song’ at the festival. The short film starring Nora Arnezeder, Guy Burnet, Munirih Grace and Mariam Zohrabyan was shot in Rome and is a virtual reality (VR) film.
One of the segment La Fabrique des Cinema du Monde (Cinemas of the World), a programme developed by Institut Francais, invites 10 directors working on their first or second features along with their producers to the Cannes Film Festival. Indian director-cinematographer Dominic Sangma from Meghalaya (north-east India) is presenting his second feature film Rapture (Rimdogittanga), produced by Jianshang Xu (Anna Films).
Another Indian writer-director Saurav Rai is pitching his work-in-progress, debut feature film Nimtoh (Invitation) in the ‘HAF (Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum) Goes to Cannes’ programme, in Cannes’s Film Market. It is one of the five projects selected by HAF Work-in-Progress Lab for participation in the pitching session at Cannes on May 18.
Indian television actress Hina Khan also made her Cannes red carpet debut on May 15 in a sparkling gown by Lebanese designer, Ziad Nakad. She will also be a speaker at the Indian Pavilion and will launch the first look of her film Lines, set in the backdrop of the Kargil War.