It’s all about finding the right audience for the film
Noted filmmaker and Director of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), Ritu Sarin was at the recently concluded Film Bazaar 2015 where her film The Sweet Requiem was part of the Co-Production Market. Ritu speaks to Pandolin about her film, the experience at the Market and DIFF.
Tell us about The Sweet Requiem.
It is the only film in Tibetan at the Film Bazaar this year. But it is an Indian film completely shot in India. It is the story of a young Tibetan girl who works in Delhi and how one day when she meets someone from her past at Majnu ka Tila, it all comes flashing back. The story follows the struggles of this girl as a child and their journey across the Himalayas to India, like a lot of people did when they fled Tibet. The man she sees at Majnu ka Tila was their guide through this escape but he abandons them before they reach safely, which is why her father was shot. She holds this man responsible for it all her life. And the story begins when she sees him again and how her anger turns her into a psychopath trying to chase this man. So the story turns into a psychological thriller. But in the end she does find closure and redemption.
How did you get to know about this story?
Some years ago there was a story that went around about a 16-year-old girl who was shot while she was crossing the border. A Romanian mountaineer put this story on the web and that is what got me thinking about this story.
The film is set in two timelines and is a thriller. How did you select the music for it?
The film is not fully ready yet as we are still looking for finance. But we showed a mood reel at the Film Bazaar and people seemed to have liked it, especially the music. It is complex and has nothing to do with India or Tibet. And it worked. So we are aiming for music that will heighten the psychological thriller.
Do you feel that the Co-Production Market helps networking more than money?
I think it does help as it pushes filmmakers harder. We are with other filmmakers from India and it is a good support system. But co-production takes time and so that can get difficult.
And does coming from one Lab to another offer more advantages?
I think the mentoring helps. And the film is not very industry-like; it is indie and artistic and more than popularity it is all about finding the right audience.
How do you plan to make DIFF the go-to place going forward?
When we started the festival the focus was to help the community there. But we realized that independent cinema in India is really growing and this served as a good space to converse within the industry and enjoy the cinema. We are getting more and more volunteers every year and it is turning into a indie festival by the indie filmmakers.
Does that create a conflict of interest at Film Bazaar?
We do get a lot of prospects wanting to be a part of DIFF but then we are at Film Bazaar for a purpose and we need to focus on that for now. There is no scope of any marketplace in DIFF. It is truly about screenings and enjoying cinema at its best, just like the place itself.
-Transcribed by Mili Semlani