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Arthouse festival: Prosenjit appeals to Bengali filmmakers to target international market


Apart from screening critically acclaimed feature and short films, the Arthouse Asia Film Festival in Kolkata seeks to create a support system for independent Indian filmmakers.

Roushni Sarkar

The fourth edition of the Arthouse Asia Film Festival (AAFF) was inaugurated today (6 January) at the Basusree cinema hall in Kolkata.

Actor-producer Prosenjit Chatterjee inaugurated the festival while jury members Rokeya Prachy, Bangladeshi film actress, Jérôme Baron, artistic director of the Festival of 3 Continents in Nantes, France, and Rajeev Masand, well-known Hindi film critic, were felicitated at the function.

Apart from screening some hand-picked feature and short films that have received critical acclaim at various international festivals, AAFF also seeks to create a support system for independent Indian filmmakers.

The Arthouse Film Foundation has set up the Arthouse First Cut Lab Kolkata in partnership with Doab Uncut Motion Private Ltd and Moonwalk Visual Factory and Bengal Screenwriting Lab, an international scriptwriting lab for feature films with dialogues primarily in Bengali.

Also, the festival has collaborated with the Produire Au Sud workshop, focusing on the outline and structure of co-production along with screenwriting within the festival. This is the first Produire au Sud workshop in South Asia.

“There should be much more talk regarding this festival on social media,” said Prosenjit, the chief guest. “Till now Bengali cinema has been recognized in the international market with the names of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen, but what next?

“There were Ritu-da [the late filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh] and Goutam Ghose’s films, but after that filmmakers have not been able to establish a connection with the international market.

"This is my personal opinion. It is not about good or bad films. There is no dearth of content these days. Yet, we are missing something. It could be the communication or the packaging of the films,” the star said and appealed to younger filmmakers to target the international market.

According to Prosenjit, Bengali filmmakers are focusing too narrowly on box-office takings. He said the release of one of his home productions has been put on hold because it is doing the rounds of film festivals.

Well-known film critic Masand spoke of the passion of festival director Sapath Das behind the grand initiative and said he could not refuse his invitation after learning about his initiatives. “I am looking forward to watching some incredible films and am very honoured to review some of them,” said the man who hosts his own film criticism show on the national television channel CNN-IBN.

Filmmaker Bauddhayan Mukherji, a member of the festival advisory committee, appealed to people to come out in support of the event and the non-profit organization that puts it together.

“We could not arrange the edit workshop because of a dearth of funds," Mukherji said. "We are still running short of money. That is the struggle we are going through. Please support the gentleman [Das] who is trying to change the landscape of South Asian films through his noble initiative.”

The festival continues till Saturday 11 January.

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Arthouse Asia Film Festival