Sydney Film Festival 2012 presents ”˜Focus on India’ segment with ”˜Gangs of Wasseypur’ in the running for official competition

Sydney Film Festival’s director Nashen Moodley brings India Focus at the festival

This year the  Sydney Film festival (6-17 June 2012) Focus is on the great filmmaking nation of India. The four independent productions taking part in the festival reveal an industry creating work far beyond Bollywood, presenting portraits of a nation grappling with rapid change on every level. Anurag Kashyap’s epic Gangs of Wasseypur has made it to SFF’s Official competition which carries a $60,000 prize for the winner .

Nashen Moodley, who had earlier programmed Durban International Film Festival and held a special focus on the Independent Cinema of India in its 32nd edition, is this year’s Festival director.

The India Focus section will screen Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1 and 2, Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Jai Bhim Comrade, Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints, Umesh Kulkarni’s Deool and Sandip Ray’s documentary. The Sound of Old Rooms.

Anurag Kashyap’s epic is a thrilling, beautifully shot and extremely violent journey tracing the feud between mining magnate and politician Ramadhir Singh and the Khan family from colonial to contemporary times,” announces the festival’s official website.

The titles in the SFF 2012 Focus On India strand are:

Jai Bhim Comrade | Director: Anand Patwardhan

The Sound of Old Rooms| Director: Sandeep Ray

The Temple | Director: Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni | Cast: Nana Patekar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Girish Kulkarni Valley of Saints | Director: Musa Syeed |Cast: Gulzar Bhat, Neelofar Hamid, Afzal Sofi

The 59th Sydney Film Festival announced early highlights in advance of the full program launch on Wednesday, 9 May.

‘This is just a cross-section and a taste of what we have in store, but you’ll already see the extraordinary diversity in subject, style and geography that makes a great international film festival memorable and thought-provoking. From the film that everyone was talking about in Sundance to a look inside Woody Allen’s head, cinema lovers in Sydney, NSW or around Australia will have many reasons to join us here in June.’

This first announcement comprises 25 titles including 22 Australian premieres, 15 features and 10 documentaries, as well as some of the top prize-winning films from Sundance, Rotterdam and Berlin.

The announcement includes the winner of the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival Beasts of the Southern Wild, the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at Berlin Film Festival Tabu, the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at International Film Festival Rotterdam Neighbouring Sounds and the winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Documentary at Sundance, The Law In These Parts.

Since its inception in 1954, Sydney Film Festival (SFF) has become a key cultural event for Sydney and well-established in the international film festival calendar. For 12 days in June the Festival takes over eight venues including the iconic State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays and the Art Gallery of NSW, showcasing the best in film from across Australia and around the world. This year, for the first time, Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall will open its doors with free exhibitions, screenings, talks, live music and performances from 5pm-10pm throughout the Festival.

SFF boasts an internationally-recognised Official Competition, now in its fifth year. Previous Official Competition winners include; A Separation (2011), Heartbeats (2010), Bronson (2009) and Hunger (2008). The Official Competition winner receives a $60,000 cash prize in recognition of courageous, audacious and cutting-edge filmmaking.


”˜Gangs of Wasseypur’ is also in the running for SFF Official competition, a $60,000 cash prize, Australia’s richest cash award for film, in recognition of the most courageous, audacious and cutting-edge film from the 12 features selected this year.

Gangs of Wasseypur

Synopsis: Anurag Kashyap’s epic, selected for Directors’ Fortnight Cannes 2012,  charts the decades-long conflict between two families involved in coal mining and organised crime in Wasseypur, in the Indian state of Jharkhand. Having more in common with the films of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola than the Indian cinema we are accustomed to, ”˜Gangs of Wasseypur’   is an exhilarating tale of vengeance. In its first hour the film sets up the historical context of a feud that will span generations. What follows is a thrilling, beautifully shot and extremely violent journey tracing the feud between mining magnate and politician Ramadhir Singh and the Khan family, from colonial to contemporary times. Ramadhir takes on three Khan generations beginning with the industrious Shahid Khan, then his philandering son, Sardar Khan, and then Sardar’s dope-addled son Faizal Khan. (We note the passage of time through the Bollywood films the family loves to watch.) The Khans are traditional gangsters: aggressive, brutal when necessary and flashy. Ramadhir Singh is more subtle and strategic. Referring to his rivals, he says, “Every fucker’s got his own movie playing inside his head. Every fucker is trying to become the hero of his imaginary film. As long as there are fucking movies in this country people will continue to be fooled.”

Screens with an interval of 30 minutes


SFF also presents a number of awards to recognise excellence in local filmmaking, including the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films (which are Academy Award ® eligible) and the FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize. The 59th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Arts NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia, and the City of Sydney. The festival’s Strategic partner is the NSW Government through Destination NSW.

Following are the Indian entries this year:


Jai Bhim Comrade

Synopsis:In 1997, when a statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar in a Dalit colony in Mumbai was desecrated with a garland of footwear, an angry mob gathered in protest. In no time, a police van drew up a couple of metres from the mob, opened fire, and killed ten persons. Vilas Ghogre, a leftist poet, hung himself in protest.
Jai Bhim Comrade, shot over 14 years, follows the music and the tradition of Ambedkarite reason that Vilas had been a part of.


The Sound of Old Rooms

Synopsis: Sandeep Ray’s exquisite documentary, filmed over 20 years, traces the life of Sarthak, an Indian man who juggles his desire to be a poet with the practicalities of raising a family. As a college student he had time to drink with friends and discuss his writings; now with work commitments, he struggles to continue his dream. The crumbling home where he was raised and still lives with his nagging but affectionate mother, wife and young son is extremely cramped; he sleeps, as he has since a child, surrounded by books. Sarthak leads us through Kolkata’s bars, apartments and alleyways as he tries to understand life and find meaning in his work. Director Ray says, “I don’t operate out of nostalgia but out of immediacy of things. If anything the film is nostalgia for the present.”


The Temple

Synopsis: The Temple is a 2011 Indian Marathi film directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni and produced by Abhijeet Gholap.   The film is about the effect of globalisation on India’s small towns and the terrible state of Indian villages, with a political back drop.

Deool won the 59th National Film Awards   for Best Feature Film, Best Actor and Best Dialogue.


Valley of Saints

Synopsis: Set on the beautiful Dal Lake in strife-torn Kashmir, the acclaimed ”˜Valley of Saints’ is an unlikely love story that raises important environmental issues. Gulzar is a working-class boatman who wants nothing more than to escape the violence and lack of opportunity. His carefully planned efforts to leave the region with his best friend Afzal are foiled by yet another curfew, and Gulzar is forced to remain. His humdrum existence is interrupted by the arrival of Asifa, a beautiful scientist who is researching the water quality of the Dal Lake. Gulzar ferries Asifa around as she makes ominous discoveries about the pollution levels ”“ should the problem go unchecked it could lead to the end of a way of life. Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award (Dramatic) and co-winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Award at the Sundance Film Festival.


Other highlights from India include:

An Indian short film Unravel by Meghna Gupta will be screened in the festival’s section for shorts. The film is about an Indian woman in the sleepy northern town of Panipat who ponders the ways of the world as she unravels unwanted clothes from the West recycling them back into yarn.



Meet the Filmmakers: SFF Talks at the Apple Store

To celebrate the 2012 Sydney Film Festival and the spirit of filmmaking, the Apple Store once again hosts its free Meet the Filmmakers series, where you can hear esteemed writers, directors, producers and actors discuss their latest project and answer your questions.

Indian Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan in conversation with Tom Zubrycki Friday 08 June, 6-7pm

Hear Indian director Anand Patwardhan (Jai Bhim Comrade) in conversation with acclaimed Australian documentary filmmaker Tom Zubrycki. Anand Patwardhan has been making political documentaries for three decades, pursuing diverse and controversial issues at the crux of social and political life in India. Many of his films were banned by state television channels in India and became the subject of litigation by Patwardhan who successfully challenged the censorship rulings in court.

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