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Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Alankrita Srivastava, Gurvinder Singh Projects Debut at India’s Inaugural Cinevesture Market (EXCLUSIVE)

The first edition of India’s Cinevesture International Film Festival (CIFF) has revealed 20 projects that will participate in its accompanying market.

Comprising 17 features and three series, several of the projects are by creators who have found acclaim both internationally and in South Asia.

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From Bangladeshi auteur Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (Busan title “Something Like an Autobiography”) comes Hindi and English-language unconventional romance “To Hell With Love.” Alankrita Srivasttava (Tokyo winner “Lipstick Under My Burkha”) has English and Hindi-language drama “Girls of Orlem,” an adaptation of Lindsay Pereira’s bestselling novel “Gods and Ends.” Gurvinder Singh (Cannes titles “The Fourth Direction,” Venice selection “Alms for a Blind Horse”) is prepping Hindi, Punjabi and English-language historical thriller series “The Trial.”

“#JACK” is a thriller film from Bhaskar Hazarika (Tribeca selection “Aamis”), while “Chhaal” (“The Skin”) by Don Palathara (Rotterdam title “Family”) is a folk thriller adapted from a story by Vijayan Detha. “Encounter” by Anurag Singh (the Jatt and Juliet franchise) is a drama-thriller in the Punjabi and Hindi languages and drama “Husky” by Atika Chohan (SWSW title “Sahela”) is in the Hindi, Chhattisgarhi and English languages.

“Peach No. 15” created by Ayappa K.M., Anand Menon and Dhruv Narang is designed as a dark and funny thriller series in the Hindi and English languages, while Hindi-language film “The Bookkeeper’s Wife” is a drama from Bauddhayan Mukherji (Mumbai title “The Violin Player”). Hindi-language dramatic film “Sacred” is the feature debut of Deepa Bhatia who’s “Nero’s Guests” played at IDFA. Hindi-language “LalitA” challenges gender concepts and is the debut feature from Disha Rindani (Prime Video series “Cinema Marte Dum Tak”).

Hindi-language drama-thriller “Laali” is the fiction feature debut of Fahad Mustafa (Berlin and Tribeca title “Katiyabaaz”). Hindi and Punjabi-language drama “Dhundh Saleti” (“The Whispering Fog”) is the debut feature from by Jasmine Kaur and Avinash Roy (“Saanjh”), while hybrid docu-drama series “Schooled Abroad” by Kimsi Singh (producer of Venice titles “Milestone” and “Soni”) is in the Hindi, English, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati and Telugu languages.

“Feral” by Nihaarika Negi (“Labours Of (An)Other Solipsist”) hails from the elevated horror genre and is in the English and Kinnauri languages. “April Mein Shootout” is a Hindi-language thriller from Randeep Jha (Netflix’s “Kohrra”). Hindi-language film “Tigdi aka 3-SUM,” described as an “un chick flick” is the debut feature by Roopal Kewalya who previously wrote Netflix series “Tooth Pari.” “Miss Kumari,” in the Hindi and Hinglish (a blend of English and Hindi) languages is by Sona Jain (“For Real”) and is described as a whimsical romance.

“I.T.A.” by Vandana Kataria (“Noblemen”) is a sci-fi/horror retelling of Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” while Hindi, Telugu and English-language “19” is a coming-of-age drama by Vikas Chandra (showrunner of Prime Video’s Berlinale series selection “Dahaad”).

In addition to these, there are three mentorship projects. Hindi-language drama “Representatives” by Priyankar Patra (producer of Venice selection “Once Upon a Time in Calcutta”) is produced by Venice winner Aditya Vikram Sengupta (“Labour of Love”). Hindi-language short film drama “Chanda” is by Shivika Jain who worked on Tallinn winner “Amar Colony.” Konkani-language “The Untimely Death of Leanne’s Dog” by Suyash Kamat (Netflix-backed short “Sadabahar”) belongs to the coming-of-age/slice of life/comedy genre.

The festival and market take place in Chandigarh, Punjab, northern India, March 27-31. The market seeks to create links between investors and curated projects, which will also be introduced to exhibitors and distributors as well. Both are being organized by Cinevesture Pvt. Ltd.

Nina Lath, who previously headed Film Bazaar, South Asia’s largest co-production market, from 2006 to 2018, is the founder and CEO of the company.

The festival is supported by the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Chandigarh, Department of Tourism Chandigarh, and Chandigarh Administration. V.S. Kundu, former head of the National Films Division of India, is the director of the film festival and industry veteran Bina Paul is the artistic director.

Former Cannes film market director Jerome Paillard, Indian actor and producer Rana Daggubati (“Baahubali”) and Nicole Guillemet, who was co-director of the Sundance Film Festival, and Indian filmmaker Ajitpal Singh (Sundance title “Fire in the Mountains”) are on the advisory board.

Namrata Joshi, CIFF market curator said: “To borrow a popular phrase, our selection is fun, fearless, female and full-on Punjab. We have projects in various stages of development. From those requiring funding for research and script development to those with scripts locked and ready to roll. The majority of the projects are by women. And/or women-focused. A bunch of them are by filmmaking talent from Punjab and/or set in the state that’s hosting the festival and the market. Class divides and conflicts, an unfortunate contemporary reality, is a running theme through some of the selected projects. Queer identity issues also find space.”

“The selection cuts across genres – there’s action, thrillers (corporate, police procedurals), drama (human, social, political, coming of age), a folk and mythology-based tale but with a modern spin, epic narrative spanning decades, whimsical romance, and comedy too. Horror makes a striking presence in the selection. That too imagined and created by women. With profound underlying thematic layers.”

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