"The latest short films from India bear witness to this emerging nation’s slowly changing social landscape" - Zurich Film Festival

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on September 24, 2014

Since its inception in the year 2005, the Zurich Film Festival has emerged as one of the most prestigious film festivals globally. By providing avenues for screening, marketing, distribution, audience interaction etc. the festival aims to provide a platform for established and emerging film making talents in the entire German market.

This year, the  festival which is scheduled to take place between 25th Sep and 5th Oct, will screen ten new features and documentary films and six short films by emerging Indian filmmakers as part of its New World View section. The short film block is been curated by Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, which is Switzerland's most important short film festival.

We interviewed Senta Van De Weetering, who is curating the short film block and asked him about the decision to screen Indian films and the rationale behind the selection of these particular short films.

1. Could you let us know the thought process behind selecting short films from India? 

The Zurich Film Festival focuses on the development of a promising national film scene in its New World View section. The guest country for this year is India. Emerging from the shadow of the subcontinent’s popular Bollywood Mass cinema tradition and enjoying growing national success is a young, independent film scene with productions that approach new themes with fresh narrative styles.

The latest short films from India bear witness to this emerging nation’s slowly changing social landscape. The younger generation dreams of a different, more open world and rebels where it most doubts the system. The works selected for this section reach beyond Bollywood to tackle the current issues faced by a country of diverse ethnicities – sometimes socially critically, sometimes romantically, sometimes hopefully and sometimes experimentally

2. What was the selection process?

Luckily, we own one of Switzerland largest archives for short films here at Kurzfilmtage (more than 30’000 shorts from all over the world) and started off our research there. Besides this, we  also contacted different specialists in Indian film and did a lot of research on schools and Indian film festivals. This is how we found most of our films. We both watched all the films that seemed suitable, made a shortlist that we discussed with the Zurich Film Festival and then made the final program that showed a broad variety of genres and subjects.

3. What made you choose these particular films? Could you tell us how each of these shorts fit in with the overall theme?

We have tried to give an impression of the wide range we discovered in Independent Indian short films produced over the last few years – which of course is impossible to do in only one program - but we did our best. We wanted to include different genres such as fiction, animation and experimental (it was not possible to also fit in a documentary).

It is important for me to mention that we saw a lot of great films and had to choose, which was hard to do. If one curates a program the selection is always determined by factors that not only have to do with the quality of the films but also due to the fact that a program has to work as a whole and in this case by the short time span of 85 minutes.

Let me add one more thing: during our research, only a small part of the immense amount of short films produced in India was available to us here in Switzerland which of course limited our possibilities,  yet we think we achieved to curate a programme that gives an idea of what India has on offer.

Given below is the list of films to be screened in the program followed by their synopsis :

FOR HIRE (Varun Chawla), 24'

Munna, a taxi driver is hired to drive Maya, a sex worker, to her clients in the city of Mumbai every night. After witnessing the reality of her life, he unexpectedly faces some home truths. For Hire is a movie in which the beautifully photographed city of Mumbai (especially by night) plays an important role.

Watch the trailer of the film below.

PROVOKED (Hossein M. Roozane), 2'

Synopsis as given by the director/producer: A little boy is watching some scenes from September 11th on TV, while his parents are fighting together in the kitchen. When his father breaks some stuff, the boy decides to punish him and so he makes a paper airplane and throws it at his father.

PROVOKED is a very short ‘short’ film that tells a little story in only two minutes and makes very good use of this limited time.

TRUELOVESTORY (Gitanjali Rao), 20'

This silent film is a coming-of-age romance set in streets of Mumbai, where a flower-seller falls in love with a bar dancer in Bollywood-fantasy style.

The film has screened at multiple festivals across the world and was a part of the Short film Competition section at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

A completely different Mumbai than the one in For Hire, this is a wonderfully animated film.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (Payal Kapadia), 3'

An experimental film based on the genetic mutation of food.

You can watch the whole film below on Vimeo;

TAU SERU (Rodd Rathjen), 8'

Set in the Himalayas, Tau Seru tells its story about a young shepherd with few words and great pictures of the landscape and its vastness. Watch the trailer of the film here.

KAUN KAMLESHWAR (Anurag Goswami), 19'

The film is about two men driving back to their hometown to set some things right. It doesn't work out the way they planned. The road movie KAUN KAMLESHWAR tells its story with intriguing humor and a good sense for details and minor characters.


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