BENGALURU: How would you feel if you had a home but could never go back to it because it was occupied by a foreign power? Sandeep Chandrashekhar, one of the makers of Rangzen, a student documentary film on Tibetan exiles living in Bylakuppe in Karnataka, explores this particular aspect of Tibetans living in the settlement and throughout the country.
The film won at two film fests, and has entered a few others as well. It was also screened at the Bangalore International Short Film Festival 2017 on Sunday, where it won in the best documentary category. The fest saw the participation of 198 films from 35 countries.
“News about Tibetan protests receives wide coverage, but the identity crisis among Tibetans living in India is hardly explored. This particular aspect, I think, needs a lot of attention. Even the mainstream media usually shies away from any proper coverage on this aspect. Many do not consider Tibetans a distinct community, and usually club them with people from Northeast India,” says Santosh, who just graduated from the mass communication department of St Joseph’s College.
He, along with his classmates, Aiman and Sumit Dasgupta, worked on the film as part of their college final project, and handled all aspects of the filming themselves - right from the direction to the editing.
“At first, we wanted to make a small film. We knew we wanted to work on this topic, but did not expect this kind of response. We are truly grateful,” says Santosh. While shooting took around four weeks, completing the film took four months.
The documentary has won the Special Jury Award at the International Film Festival of Prayag, New Delhi, 2017 and The Audience Award at the Feel the Reel International Film Festival, UK, 2017. It has also been officially selected at various film festivals, such as the International Documentary and Short Film Festival Kerala, 2016 and the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, 2017.
According to Santosh, people in India are unaware about many things - like the fact that Tibetans run their own government from India and elect office bearers like the Prime Minister and members of the Tibetan Parliament, or the fact that they have something called the Green Book - a system with annual voluntary contributions from Tibetans in exile. It was introduced by the Central Tibetan Administration in 1972.
“Rangzen means freedom, and many from the younger generation of Tibetans are holding on to their culture, hoping to return to a free Tibet someday,” he adds.
B’luru short film fest to get new name in 2018
In its sixth edition now, the Bangalore International Short Film Festival has managed to carve a niche in the country’s film circle. Festival director, Rambhul Singh, talks to City Express about changing the direction of the festival from next year, and also on the challenges in creating a space for short films in India.
“For 2018, we have bigger plans and are going to make some changes. Since the festival’s inception, we have concentrated only on short films. However, next year, we plan to also add a section on feature films, but our focus will always be short films. We are also planning to change the name of the festival next year,” says Rambhul. When asked if a feature section will lead to the short film fest losing its charm, Rambhul replies, “On the contrary, I am confident it will serve to make short films even more popular, especially with more film directors joining the fest. The entire purpose of organizing such fests is to recognize films and network within the community.”
Highlighting the difficulty of marketing and distributing short films, Rambhul points out that India, and Asia as a whole, does not have a market for short films. “In general, we don’t have a market for short films. The most one can do with such films is to stream them online and monetize through ads. The moment one does that, no film fests will accept your submission,” he says.
The Bangalore International Short Film Festival’s focus is to reach markets in the US, Europe, and even the Middle East. “We are a major film fest, whose whole purpose is to create meaningful and interesting content. We market and distribute this content for the short film industry to earn a respectable revenue.” This year, the fest saw a good number of films from all over the world. Master classes on various aspects of filmmaking were also conducted.