Indian Participants On Why The Berlinale Talents Programme Is Important

Making connections with people interested in Asian cinema. Finding script mentors, technical collaborators, international co-producers and sales agents. Finding global and alternative markets for your films…
Indian Participants On Why The Berlinale Talents Programme Is Important

255 talents (126 women, 123 men, and six that choose to identify as neither) from 86 countries are part of Berlinale Talents, an intense six-day programme featuring around 100 events, with internationally renowned experts and acclaimed Berlinale guests holding workshops and talks. Here are some of the Indian participants on what they hope to get from this experience.

A still from Prantik Basu's <em>Rang Mahal</em>
A still from Prantik Basu's Rang Mahal

 Prantik Basu, whose most recent short documentary film Rang Mahal premiered at Berlinale 2019; his film Sakhisona won a Tiger Award at the IFFR in 2017

 I had applied for Berlinale Talents for the first time in 2007, right before I joined FTII. I hardly had any theoretical knowledge, but had just finished making a short film which premiered at the Kolkata International Film Festival that year. I kept on applying every other year, but with no luck. Over the years, applying for the Talents programme had become an annual ritual. Irrespective of the results, the application process is a fun exercise in itself, with questions as fundamental and reflective as one's relation to cinema, the process one follows and one's current preoccupation with the medium. It had become a way of assessing my own progress.

I was somewhat confident of my selection this year, much more than before. It gives me an opportunity to follow up with the connections I made at the festival last year and take a step closer towards making my first feature film Dengue, which I am currently working on, with support from the Hubert Bals Fund. We already have on board The Film Kitchen as our Dutch co-producer, and at the Berlinale this year, we hope to find a second European co-producer and sales agents for the film.

A still from Mukul Haloi's <em>Loralir Sadhukatha</em>
A still from Mukul Haloi's Loralir Sadhukatha

Mukul Haloi, who, after a number of successful short and experimental films like Loralir Sadhukatha (for which he was given the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award), is now embarking on his first feature-length fictional debut

It's been almost a year since I passed out from the Film and Television Institute of India. During this time, I have been developing my debut fiction feature script and I feel Berlinale Talents has happened for me at a very good time. I'm expecting to interact with talents from different countries who have an interest in Asian cinema. I'm also looking for script mentors, co producers and collaborators such as composers and sound designers. I feel Berlinale Talents might open up such possibilities of exploration. It is also important for me to understand the global and alternative markets for a film that will be made in a language (Assamese) with a not very prominent home-market viability.

A still from Varun Sasindran's <em>Omarska</em>
A still from Varun Sasindran's Omarska

Varun Sasindran, whose short and hybrid documentaries include Omarska, an attempt to erect a virtual memorial for the victims of the Bosnian war, which was screened at Berlinale 

My previous short film Omarska premiered at the Berlinale shorts competition in 2019. I was very glad about its outcome (it earned a special mention) and I was quite impressed by the Berlinale shorts team's curation.This is how I got to discover about the Short Form station under the Berlinale Talents programme. 

My next project Hajra is shortlisted in the Berlinale Talents Short Form station, along with 10 other projects. Since my next project is a continuation of my previous film, it is relatively easier for me to connect with the same team that is already acquainted with my work. This was the primary reason to apply. But, most importantly, my project will take place in Bosnia, and for the same reasons, it will be a huge advantage for me to find a co-producer from Eastern Europe. This is where I feel Berlinale Talents could play a very important role, in connecting with other talents to form a network for possible collaborations.

A still from Ivan Ayr's <em>Soni</em>
A still from Ivan Ayr's Soni

Ivan Ayr, whose feature film Soni premiered in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section of the 75th Venice International Film Festival

The Script Station at Berlinale Talents is an important beginning for my next project. It is a competitive programme, as only 10 projects are curated each year out of a total of 400 submissions, and, therefore, I'm quite fortunate and thrilled that my script made the final cut. This will be my first time participating in an intimate learning event of this kind, and I hope to use this opportunity to examine my storytelling from a different gaze. 

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