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Indians react to Oscar nominations; Sundance Film Festival world premieres – ‘Polite Society’ and Richie Mehta ‘Poacher’; Berlinale India selections

Indians react to Oscar nominations; Sundance Film Festival world premieres – ‘Polite Society’ and Richie Mehta ‘Poacher’; Berlinale India selections

It’s been a buy week for awards and festivals…

All That Breathes – Shaunak Sen; Naatu Naatu – SS Rajamouli and MM Keeravaani and ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ – Guneet Monga

All That Breathes: Oscar nomination (inset: Director Shaunak Sen, London Film Festival)

INDIA’S Oscar-nominated talent has been reacting to their inclusion in this year’s shortlist announced on Tuesday (January 24).
Shaunak Sen is the director behind the documentary, ‘All That Breathes’. It appears in the Documentary Feature Film category.
On Instagram, Sen who spoke to when he was here for the London Film Festival, posted: “We’re all shocked, relieved and discombobulated. Deepest, most heartfelt thanks to our characters, the whole film team, and collaborators.
“We’re all at a slight loss of words – but the main thing to note for now is that this only happened because everyone working almost moved worlds to somehow make the film reach the finishing line.”
He said he and the team were still “wrapping their heads around it” and saluted the other Indian nominees. (See below for full post – click on link).
The documentary already has a long rollcall of accolades. It is set in Delhi and about the Saud brothers and their amateur bird sanctuary/hospital and had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last year where it won a Grand Jury Prize and later screened at Cannes as an official selection and came to London Film Festival in October and won the top documentary award, the Grierson. Financed by British company, Rise Films, Sen told us when he was in London and that he was looking to explore the fiction space next.
The film is up against ‘All The Beauty and the Bloodshed’ about New York photographer and activist Nan Goldin and made by Laura Poitras; ‘Fire of Love’ – about volcano scientists and directed by American Sara Dosa ; ‘A House Made of Splinters’ by Simon Lereng Wilmont which covers the Russian-Ukrainian war and displaced children being rehomed; ‘Navalny’ – which centres around jailed opposition Russian leader Alexander Navalny and made by Daniel Roher.
SS Rajamouli, the writer-director behind the Telugu language blockbuster, ‘RRR’ wrote a long post on Instagram as well, reacting to news that the song, ‘Naatu Naatu’ has made the Original Song category and heaped praised on the team and his creative brother MM Keeravaani and lyricist Chandrabose who are both cited in the official nomination.
Rajamouli also covered the disappointment among some, that the film hadn’t featured in any other categories, especially Best Movie and/or International Feature Film.
Writing in a mix of roman letters Telugu and English, Rajamouli posted: “My peddanna (big brother) got an Oscar nomination for his song in my film. I can’t ask for more. I am currently doing Naatu Naatu more vigorously than Tarak and Charan. Chandra Bose guru. Congratulations. Oscar Stage meedha mana paata.” (Literally this translates as ‘on our old’ and this quotation is abridged for actual punctuation – please see the link below for Instagram post).
And Rajamouli went onto acknowledge others who had made the song what it was. More recently Rajamouli celebrated Keeravaani’s Padma Shri – an award conferred by the Indian government on the country’s great and the good and announced ahead of yesterday’s (January 26) Republic Day.
The song has already won a Golden Globes award beating off competition from the cream of western pop icons and the film won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Song.
Guneet Monga is one of India’s best known producers and her short film currently available on Netflix, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ has been nominated in the short Documentary section. She was named alongside director Kartiki Gonsalves.
Monga posted a video and Zoom of reaction to the live announcement and commented: “Sometimes the most extraordinary tales of love and compassion whisper their way into our lives like magic.”
The film follows the journey of an orphaned elephant called Raghu and adopted by a couple called Bomman and Bellie and set in Ooty in South India.
Monga later added that the nomination, “strengthens my faith in stories with heart and people who tirelessly submit themselves to a larger vision. It is truly for them. It is the innocence and honesty that transcended these boundaries and made ‘The Elephant Whisperers‘ travel from a small quaint town of Ooty to the biggest stage of Cinema!
Actors Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams announced these shortlists in a live ceremony at 5.30am from the Academy premises in LA on Tuesday ( January 25). Ahmed, who an Oscar for his short film, ‘The Long Goodbye’ (see here for story & video), has become one of the producers of ‘Joyland’ the Pakistani film that had its world premiere in Cannes last year and which acv followed from there. It releases in the UK on
Among the British an Irish nominees across the various categories are: Bill Nighy (‘Living’); Paul Mescal (‘Aftersun’), Andrea Riseborough (‘To Leslie’); Colin Farrell (‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’), which also actor nominations for Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan. Irish language film ‘The Quiet Girl’ also got a nod in the International Feature film category. Roger Deakins’ sumptuous cinematography in ‘Empire of Light’ also gets a nod in that category.

The Oscars ceremony will be held on March 12/13 –

Sundance 2023: Great reception for Nida Manzoor’s ‘Polite Society’ and Richie Mehta’s ‘Poacher’

Polite Society‘ – Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya and Nida Manzoor (Pic: Sundance ©MayaDehlin) 🔹 Poacher -Richie Mehta (pic: Sundance/JovelleTamayo)

REACTION to the British feature, ‘Polite Society’ by Nida Manzoor has been extremely positive and could now possibly feature among the Sundance Film Festival awards – announced Frdiay/Saturday (January 27/28).
Given a prestigious Saturday/Sunday midnight (Jnaury 21/22) screening, reviews have been glowing – praising lead Priya Kansara as a breakout star in the role of Ria and Ritu Arya, who plays the older sister, as another reason to watch this film. Even Ria’s gang of friends got plaudits – Ella Bruccoleri and Serephina Beh.
Manzoor’s genre mix-up and tale of derring-do as Ria – an aspiring cinema stunt artist and student – attempts to derail her older sister’s potential nuptials to the highly eligible Salim (Askhay Khanna), seem to suggest a striking new cinematic voice, shaped by genres of both western and South Asian cinema. Manzoor already has a Bafta for the Channel 4 comedy muscial series, ‘We are Lady Parts’.
Among the other cast are well-known Pakistani actor Nimra Bucha and Brits, Shobhu Kapoor and Jeff Mirza.‘Polite Society’ is set to screen in the UK from April 7.
London-based producer Richie Mehta was also in Sundance and there was a world premiere for his latest episodic series ‘Poacher’.
The International Emmy award winning showrunner behind the first ‘Delhi Crime’ series was returning to Sundance since 2019. It was there that he first unveiled ‘Delhi Crime 1’ and acv was among those to see it there and covered its sale to Netflix.
Mehta has spoken to acv again this week and tells us he is in negotiations for a platform to helm ‘Poacher’.
Set in a forest close to Malayattoor, about 30 miles north east of Kochi in Kerala, it is about the illegal trade in elephant tusks and is again based on true events – in 2015 Indian crime fighters busted an international cartel of ivory dealers after a local forest warden tipped off the authorities, saying that at least 18 elephants had been slaughtered.
ACV has seen the first three episodes, as the audience did at the world premiere on Tuesday (January 24) and it has all the qualities that made ‘Delhi Crime’ – which was based the on real police files and investigation into the Delhi rape case of 2012 – such a success – thrilling, well-shot & acted with quirky characters at the heart of a compelling human drama – but here the central victims are the elephants. More from Mehta on his new work coming to acv soon. Stay tuned on socials to know when it drops!

Sundance Film Festival continues til until Sunday, January 29 – Sundance Film Festival 2023

Ria (Priya Kansara) in ‘Polite Society‘ Courtesy of Sundance Institute © pic: by Parisa Taghizadeh 🔹 ‘Poacher

Berlinale 2023: Indian selections there

Farhan & Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Dahaad

FARHAN AKHTAR is well-known as one of Bollywood’s most established stars and has turned into a very successful producer, alongside co-producer Ritesh Sidhwani, in recent times with their company, Excel Entertainment. Their latest episodic series, ‘Dahaad’ will screen at this year’s Berlinale – the Berlin International Film Festival (February 16-26). It’s described as slow burn crime thriller based in Rajasthan and features Sonakshi Sinha, Vijay Varma, Gulshan Devaiah, and Sohum Shah. It is directed by Reema Kagti and Ruchika Oberoi and much of the team is the same as the one behind the internationally successful, ‘Made in Heaven‘, about an Indian wedding planning agency.
Also screening at the festival will be episodic series ‘Brown’ directed by Abhinay Deo and starring Karishma Kapoor and Soni Razdan. It is a Zee production.
Showing in the 14 section (for young people) is Aatamapamphlet (Autobio-pamphlet) described by Berlinale South Asian delegate, Meenakshi Shedde as: “Fab, bold, coming of age story, of a childhood crush, social change in 1990s India”.
Indian documentary maker Sreemoyee Singh’s ‘Be Kucheya Khosibakht’ is a cinematic ode to Iranian cinema and in Persian.
Also appearing in the prestigious Panorama section of Berlinale is the Marathi language ‘Ghaath’ (‘Ambush’). Another slow burn film set on the outskirts of a forest and about a tense standoff between Maoist rebels, state authorities and many caught in between.
Made by writer-director Chhatrapal Ninawe, it had been chosen by Berlinale in 2021 but was effectively withdrawn by Jio Studios one of the producers of the film. No explanation was ever given and Ninawe was left in the lurch. Jio’s share has now been bought out by Indian film company, Platoon One Films, according to reports. It is joining hands with well-established film company, Drishyam Films. These two firms were behind the world premiere of the Amit V Masurkar film, ‘Newton’ (2017) at Berlinale. It won much international acclaim and came to the London Indian Film Festival.
A 40-minute film ‘No Stranger’ also appears at this year’s Berlinale and is made by Priya Sen and is film about Delhi in lockdown.
The full programme schedule will be released on February 7. The films in competition were announced on Monday (January 23) and other programme strands selections were also released.
Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival)

Oscar nomination reactions full – Instagram links

Shaunak Sen –
SS Rajamouli –
Guneet Monga –

Coming – click to see these interviews on our Youtube channelWhat’s Love Got To Do With It’

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture