That sur‘reel’ feeling

It’s a proud moment for doctor-turned-filmmaker Chidananda Naik whose Kannada short film 'Sunflowers Were The First Ones To Know' will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
A scene from the short film  'Sunflowers Were The First Ones To Know'
A scene from the short film 'Sunflowers Were The First Ones To Know'

BENGALURU: Surreal’ is probably the feeling that filmmaker Chidananda Naik would use to describe his experience at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, but Naik coyly says it’s more than that. Of course, it’s not every day that you get to see the iconic Meryl Streep, who was honoured with the prestigious Honorary Palme d’Or, walking the red carpet.

Naik’s Kannada short film 'Sunflowers Were The First Ones To Know' has been chosen to be screened under the La Cinef section. The depth of this selection is understood when you realise it is one of 18 films, which was selected out of 2,623 submissions across the globe. The short film is based on a popular Kannada folklore of an elderly woman stealing a rooster after which the sun does not rise.

“The idea of the story itself was interesting and our team couldn’t stop thinking about it. We wanted to understand what memories of such stories meant to people, and that’s where the inspiration came from,” says Naik, adding that it is interesting not only for people outside Karnataka but also for people from the state who are familiar with the story.

Naik, the writer and director of the film, studied at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). A proud Kannadiga, he always wanted to make a local-language film. And the dream seems to have come true now as his film is making the right noises on foreign shores. “I don’t make films to achieve something, I never look at movies that way.

My films are a way of expressing things around me. I love watching films in Cannes, especially Palm d’Or movies. This is the place for every filmmaker and every cinephile to be, and I am so proud to bring a Kannada film here,” says Naik, who joined FTII for a TV course after completing MBBS from Mysore Medical College.

Currently known for his short films, Naik wants to explore Kannada commercial films. “I am working on my debut right now. Even though mine is the first film to be on the official selection list, the Kannada film industry has always been global. All eyes are on us now,” says Naik, whose film is going to be screened on May 21.

Wishing to try out different genres, Naik does not want to restrict himself to any single movie genre. “Now, there’s a blend between genres. We need to tell new and fresh narratives, that’s what audiences are looking for. I would like to pitch my script to all the actors here, if they love the story or characters, it would open up a great collaboration,” he signs off on a call from Cannes.

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The New Indian Express