Two women directors will represent Indian cinema at the 71st Cannes Film Festival beginning tomorrow.
‘Manto’ by actor-director Nandita Das and ‘Sir’ by first-time director Rohena Gera are the only Indian entries in Cannes this year. Das, who was a member of the Cannes competition jury in 2005, will present her second feature film after ‘Firaaq’ (2008), in Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes festival. ‘Sir’ is part of Critic’s Week, a parallel section of the Cannes festival.
‘Manto’, the only Indian film in Cannes official selection, tells the story of iconic Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto. ‘Sir’, Gera’s first feature, is a love story set in present-day Mumbai.
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s ‘Everybody Knows’ starring Spanish actor-couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem will open the Cannes festival. ‘Everybody Knows’ by Farhadi, who won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for the 2016 Cannes entry ‘The Salesman’, will compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or, the top prize of the influential film festival, with 20 others films.
Among the films in the competition section are French New Wave master Jean-Luc Godard’s new film ‘Image Book’, American director Spike Lee’s ‘Blackkklansman’, and ‘Under the Silver Lake’ by American filmmaker David Robert Mitchell.
Taking place in the aftermath of sexual harassment allegations that rocked Hollywood, the Cannes competition jury this year is headed by Australian actor Cate Blanchett. Five of the nine competition jury members are women—Blanchett, American director Ava DuVernay, Burundian singer Khadja Nin, French actor Lea Seydoux, and American actor Kristen Stewart. Three women-directed films will be vying for the Palme d’Or—‘Capernaum’ by Lebanese actor-director Nadine Lebaki, ‘Girls of the Sun’ by French director Eva Husson, and ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ by Italian director Alice Rohrwacher.
Besides Farhadi, the competition section has another Iranian master director, Jafar Panahi. The festival will premiere the new film, ‘3 Faces’ , of Panahi, who is not allowed to travel outside his country.
India misses out again in the competition section, which has one film from China (Ash is Purest White) by Jia Zhangke, two from Japan (‘Asako I & II’ by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and ‘Shoplifters’ by Hirokazu Kore-Eda), and one from Korea (‘Burning’ by Lee Chang-dong). The last Indian film in the prestigious Cannes competition was 'Swaham' (My Own) by Malayalam director Shaji N Karun in 1994.
The two Indian films in Cannes this year follows a dismal 2017 when there were no entries from the country, except a student short film by a student from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
“I am most delighted that ‘Manto’ will start its journey in Cannes," said Das. The film focuses on the five years in the life of the writer just before and after the Partition, in Mumbai and Lahore. Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Manto along with Rasika Dugal and Rajshri Deshpande.
“I am very happy to be sharing this moment at Cannes with Nandita, for whom I have a lot of respect," says Gera, whose previous film, ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’, was a documentary on arranged marriages. "I feel it is symbolic that it is two women this year (in Cannes). It is a time for women of our country to stand together and make our voices heard," she adds.
'Manto' will premiere on May 13 in Un Certain Regard section while 'Sir' will have its premiere the next day in Critic's Week. The Cannes festival will run up to May 19. (UNI)