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Interview Hindi

A feature film has always been a dream of mine, says young director Ida Ali

The young woman was recently part of a jury led by filmmaker and actress Aparna Sen for the Lockdown Film Festival, launched by Ishani K Dutta and Ashish Dutta of Carrot Films.

Sonal Pandya

In April, jury members Sharmila Tagore, Ratna Pathak Shah, Prahlad Kakkar, Iqbal Niyazi, Adil Hussain, Hiten Tejwani, Gautam Rode, Ken Ghosh, Nivedita Basu, Modhura Palit and Ida Ali, led by chairperson Aparna Sen, gathered online to watch and select the best short films from a challenge issued by the Lockdown Film Festival.

Launched by Ishani K Dutta and Ashish Dutta of Carrot Films, the challenge was to shoot a short film, of three mintues, at home on the theme of 'perspective'. The participants rose to the occasion and now, a select few have got an opportunity to have their films viewed by a wider audience.

The National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) has acquired the rights to screen the shortlisted films from the Lockdown Film Festival on their Cinemas of India website. We spoke to young upcoming director Ida Ali on email to find out more about the jury process, and how she found the shorts that were presented in the festival.

Ida Ali, who is the daughter of filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, also shared her experiences of spending time during the lockdown. Excerpts:

How was it like working with other jury members to shortlist the filmmakers during the Carrot Films' Lockdown Film Festival and how did you all confer with your opinions?

First of all, I was and have always been in awe of all the jury members. It truly made me so grateful to be a part of a jury with such prolific individuals. With that said, collaborating with them was a dream. There were such constructive discussions about each film. Everyone shared their opinions which were diverse and yet equally fascinating. Me and my perspective were not only warmly welcomed but deeply considered too.

All of us presented arguments for our top choices. We also listened to contrasting opinions. Therefore, the final choices were made collectively and with the utmost participation of every member.

Which short films stood out for you? What was it about them that was striking?

My top three picks were: Brahm, Mirage and Just Inertia. Brahm is a brilliantly directed short film that conveys so much in such little time — a very difficult feat to achieve. Mirage makes the audience empathize with the mother’s emotions and was shot remarkably well. And Just Inertia tells the story of a bed-ridden man but it is not filled with sorrow, in fact it makes you smile and the dialogue is gripping.

If you were given the same 3-minute challenge, what kind of a film would you make?

I don’t know if my idea would stand a chance against these excellent films but I will give it a go :)

I would have wanted to explore a growing relationship amongst two neighbours as they were the only ones they could meet because of the lockdown.

What do you think about the tie-up between Carrot Films' Lockdown Film Festival and NFDC's Cinemas of India?

Both Carrot Films' Lockdown festival and NFDC’s Cinemas of India advocate and provide for excellent Indian cinema. They push good, amusing content towards the audience and simultaneously they give the creators the opportunity to blossom in their field.

Thus, I feel that this tie-up is a perfect fit and I love that the selected short films will be viewed and enjoyed!

You previously made the short films, Boundary and Lift. Do you plan on writing and directing a feature film someday?

A feature film has always been a dream of mine. And I plan to make my dreams come true. So yes, I plan to write and direct feature films someday. Maybe once I have really grasped my style of filmmaking, learned what is necessary through studies and through the great films in general.

What helpful advice did you receive before you directed the short films? Did your father guide you in any way?

My father always told me that he is not going to help me with writing or directing, especially in my first few projects, as I need to know that its success or failure is purely because of my mind and my work. He had told me that he will give me exactly one tip after reading my first script — it was of Lift; however, he did not end up giving me any advice. And I am better for it because I trust myself and my skills now.

I made my first short film to know if I was actually any good and also to see if I enjoyed filmmaking. The best advice I got was just to do everything I can to make the film the best that it can be. And that is what I will always strive for.

How have you been spending time during the lockdown?

I have been writing a lot! I have also shot a short film for the Lockdown Shorts Anthology.

The most exciting venture I have embarked on is the creation of an Instagram page called @refreshbytheyouth. It brings together the youth from all over the world in different episodes that explore the concerns and lives of different youngsters. We try to connect people through conversation and finding similarities and diversities amongst us all. To listen is the only way to learn. To speak is the only way to share. We believe that Refresh by the Youth can help people empathize and thus grow.

Other than work, I have been picking up things I had left back in childhood. Like my parents and I do Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) together every single day. And I have started learning the guitar again. Ooh, also my parents and I watched many, many movies and shows together. We just got done with the Netflix show, Dark!