Skip to main content

Mumbai International Film Festival 2006

Unfortunately, A Stone Throw didn't win anything . . . *sniff* :(

Most of the international films that won prizes at the Mumbai International Film Festival 2006 had India as the subject / backdrop - or they were made by ex-pat Indians living abroad - or they had an Indian actor - or they were films made by filmmakers who had served on previous years' MIFF judging panels.

I'm not being too cynical. That is just the way these things go. I'd be naive to think differently. In fact, I was surprised that our little 10 minute film, A Stone Throw had been included at all. It was one of only a few non-Indian inspired films.

Having said that, a ScreenWest-funded documentary about the rebel army in Aceh won the judges hearts.

The Black Road, directed by William Nessen and produced by Andrew Ogilvie, was absolutely brilliant and easily deserved to win. In fact, William risked his life making the film. He filmed alongside the Indonesian army as they attacked Aceh - and he also filmed alongside the Aceh rebels! I'm talking gun to gun stuff. Torture stuff. There were no holes barred making this film. It's not for the squeamish. People get killed and tortured and you see the results. Big, graphical, close-ups!

William witnesses the death of some close friends, marrie sthe film's interpreter and ends up in jail (as one would expect). All these events filmed prior to the great Tsunami.

After watching the film, one might conclude that William Nessen has a death wish.

But Billy (his chosen nickname) considers himself an accidental documentary filmmaker. His main line of work is as a journalist / photographer. This is his first film and it began with him simply recording events in his life. It transmogrified into something brilliant - and very important for the world stage.

It was good to see a ScreenWest-funded film getting not one but two important awards. The Best Documentary awards were strictly for the directors, but Andrew Ogilvie also got an award for producing Billy's film. It was edited by Lawrence Silvestrin and sound-posted by the (locally) famous Western Australian, Ric Curtin.

Bloody good stuff.

While the chosen few basked in the glory of cash (up to AUS$7,000 1st prize) media scrutiny and some very impressive gold and silver conch statues, I slunk back to the hotel. My 10 minute short looked pretty good up there and the audience thought it was a wonderful part of a greater piece. A Stone Throw gave the winners a run for their money. I satisfied myself with that knowledge.

I stayed in my pokey hotel room the entire next day. Enthused by the renegade documentary makers, I feverishly returned to working on my next project. I'd managed to dodge disease, not get too-ripped off and I still had my passport. That counted for something.

When all had returned to their respective countries, I got a phone call. It was William - at a loose end. He shouted (bought) me breakfast and talked about staying in Mumbai.

I asked. There's no rebel army fighting for independence here.

He simply likes the place. The people. The hospitality. Billy strikes me as a kind guy with a big heart. I tended to ignore the many beggars here, but he happily gave them a few rupees. One poor beggar-lady told him, I don't want your money - only food. Half an hour later, Billy was lugging sacks of rice and water around for her immediate family.

Not having a background in filmmaking, he asked me for career advice. I felt humbled. And, the truth be told - a bit important. Keep your prize money. Don't give it away. Invest it in the film - in yourself, I pleaded.

I'd rather see William go out there and change the whole world with his particular brand of risky filmmaking than see one small family eat for a week. His kind of filmmaking can change the world.

The Mumbai Film festival had inspired me. Perhaps I can also do something worthwhile. Seeing films like The Black Road makes me do a double-take on my own stuff. I've only just started to make worthwhile films - films that touch other people. Hopefully, A Stone Throw is only the first step toward this and I'll get the chance to go a lot further.

It all starts with a piece of paper and a pen. I'm sincerely looking forward to seeing what filmmakers like Billy Nessen does with his pen.

See y'all back in Perth for my Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) podcast.


Popular posts from this blog

Not the only white guy in Mumbai

Hi readers . . . and hi Mum! ;)

I've been watching some pretty heart-wrenching documentaries here at the Mumbai Film Festival. Watching docos seems to be a fast track to learning about the world. Many documentaries have an Indian element, but a couple stood out. I tend to make friends with the people who make films I like, so I'm pleased to say that Rajdeep Randhawa is now a close and personal friend of mine.

Rajdeep made a 47 minute documentary called, "Ek Tha Lal Pari." Shot mostly cinema verite, it documents the problematic relationship between a eunuch and her lover. It's an on and off relationship, but the two are still very much in love and have lived together for 20 years! In India, eunuchs live in enclaves. They are ostricised by society, but also revered and considered to have many spiritual powers. So they earn money by performing special rituals at marriages, births, deaths etc. It is a special honour to be blessed by a eunuch. To cross one would result …

The Drug That Killed River Phoenix

This article was going to be about a new drug I'm on called Duomine, but as I knew very little about River Phoenix (aka the vegan Jimmy Dean) I thought I'd swat up on what's really going on behind that brain-worm ditty. I'll talk about Duomine another time.The song line I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix is from Aussie alternative band TISM's tasteless 1995 single (He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River - and it's a bit cheap, frankly. The single's cover shows a mock-up of River's tombstone and was released shortly after his death. TISM were well-known for criticisin Imperial Hollywood and US pop culture, but they were masters when it came to borrowed interest marketing. More about these guys later.River Bottom's Awkward LifeIn 1944, River's mother Arlyn was born to a Jewish family living in the Bronx. When she finished school, she married a computer programmer but quickly grew bored of her secretarial life. In 1968, at 24, Arlyn dr…

Script development on a budget

Most people abhor criticism and nobody likes to open their wallet. If you are either, don’t - whatever you do - write a feature film screenplay. I almost guarantee that nobody will read it without being paid.

More importantly never go into production on a script that hasn’t been very heavily criticised, rewritten, analysed, rewritten gain, ripped apart, gutted and finally ... rewritten. I'm sure you can name a thousand movies with huge plot holes or character problems. Problems which could have easily been patched up with just a few bucks investment. Criticism is not the same as rejection.
While Mum will happily read your screenplay, getting constructive feedback from industry professionals costs money. Constructive criticism is the key to morphing an ailing screenplay into a great feature film. Nothing else will do this. Unfortunately, getting anyone who’s not your mother to read your screenplay (or read beyond your synopsis and director's notes) costs money. Even if you don&#…