Film Education


INTERVIEW WITH BUDDING FILMMAKER NEMIL SHAH

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Introducing Hasan Khan                                                   Omkar Sakpal

 

“As a first time Director I was nervous shooting in uncontrolled public spaces in Dharavi. I had the notion that the slum people of Dharavi would be hostile but I realised how judgemental and wrong I was. They were very gracious and co-operative, many times they went out of their way to help and that was s big reason for the success of my film”

INTERVIEW

Oorvazi Irani Interviews

Nemil Shah – IBDP student batch 2015-17

It was exactly two years ago, when I joined Oorvazi Maam’s film class in the SVKM JV Parekh International School to discover a whole new different world of CINEMA and here I am today after two years where I actually discovered myself. I always say and will keep saying that she helped ‘me’ to find ‘me’ out of ‘me’.

1. Has your idea of filmmaking changed and how from the first day of class studying film as a subject offered by the International Baccalaureate ?

Definitely, I mean to me filmmaking was always very appealing and fascinating form of art because of the combination of the audio as well as visuals. What has changed is that now I call it as the ’Language of films’.

2. How do you define art and an artist? 

An artist could be any normal people who can express and reflect their own selves. This reflection is what I perceive as art.

3. Which filmmakers do you look up to?

Satyajit Ray, Alfred Hitchcock, Ritesh Batra.

4. Is there a rel between the form of poetry and film as art and how? 

The visuals and imagery is what bring these two different arts closer. However there are no restrictions in art. Therefore any art form can be expressed with respect to the choice of the artist.

5. As a teacher do you feel I have a unique approach to the subject? What did you like and dislike? 

The practical approach is what I feel was very helpful because that is what helped us to bring out the ‘art’ in us. What I like and dislike is the fact that you reply to us faster than we do…

6. What kind of films do you aspire to make?

Experimental Art films as well as Drama.

7. Why do you aspire to be a filmmaker? 

It’s the language in which I can express myself quiet well.

8. What has the greatest deepest lesson making your first short film teach you?

It is rigorous, painful, stressful etc. etc. but this is what makes me happy. This process is what I love.

9. What to your mind is the future of cinema?

Art often comes with no or very little expectations.

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SVKM Culturama Filmmaking Mentorship

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FILM MAKING MENTORSHIP WORKSHOP By Oorvazi Irani

VIDAR JOSHI

Knock Knock !

Time was very less. 10-1 for 4 days that’s like 12hrs only but I swear to god watching 40hrs of YouTube videos on filmmaking, writing, editing and making 5 films on my own gave me less than this workshop.

Why knock knock?

You see a door and you kind of have an idea about what’s behind that door and you think that’s the truth. Maybe or maybe not. When you knock and when the door opens up you see the whole universe behind that small door instead of some boring room. After this one person comes and pushes you outside and tells you to explore this. How would you feel?

I was standing outside that door making films on my imaginations of what’s behind that door. This workshop knocked the door for me and Oorvazi ma’am pushed me to explore the world of cinema, paintings, literature etc etc.

“An amateur filmmaker to an artist” I am on this journey now.

Thank you so much for these things @Oorvazi Ma’am

 

OORVAZI IRANI

(Vidar this is for you)

Bathed in innocence
you are born !

Carrying the seed of a Dream

Tender are your steps
Careful is your breadth

Gently flows your sincerity
paving your way to a path unknown.

You are your Dream
Pure and Serene ;



Film is the most ‘modern art form’ and  it is a privilege to be involved in a medium that is an amalgamation of all the older arts.  As a Mentor on this platform I see my role to nurture and help young minds discover the medium and through that discover their true self and the world around them.

It gives me immense joy to be mentoring young filmmakers for the film competition in my international school cultural festival ”Culturama 5” to be held on Jan 28th and 29th 2017 in Mumbai.

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Testimonial by Nitin Neera Chandra

 

Nitin Neera Chandra

National Award Winning Filmmaker 2016

Attended Oorvazi’s Film Appreciation Batch 2009

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After I Completed my Masters learning Cinema for two years at Pune University, I came to Mumbai and started working as a production assistant but until I attended Oorvazi’s Irani Film Appreciation classes, I did not know what I was missing. Those 8 days of workshop literally changed the way I was thinking and streamlined a lot of thoughts about Cinema and how it is suppose to work. I remember making two short films for which I was rewarded with a DVD which I have still kept.

I directed two films Deswa and Mithila Makhaan, I had joined Oorvazi’s workshop as preparation of for Deswa. Deswa want on to become first film in the Bhojpuri language to get selected at Indian Panorama section of prestigious International Film Festival of India, Goa. in 2012

My second film Mithila Makhaan is winner of National Award, ‘Best Film in Maithili Language’ in 2016. Thanks to Oorvazi because one part of my little understanding has her contribution.



Testimonial by Nishi Panicker

 

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Nishi Panicker posing with Oorvazi Irani on her school Graduation day

 

Nishi Panicker

International Baccalaureate Film Student, SVKM International School(Batch 2014-16)

Currently awaiting her final results with IB

I joined IB thinking that film would be the easiest of my subjects and now when I reflect back it was probably the most challenging. Our very first class, I remember Oorvazi ma’am asking us why we chose film and what aspect we loved the most. I was confused because I remember feeling like I didn’t know anything about film,which in retrospect was true. I don’t know how two years flew by but one thing I can say confidently is that there’s not a single a class with ma’am where I’ve left with the same knowledge as when I entered.

There’s always something to learn from her whether it’s her undying love for the art of cinema,her enthusiasm or her unwillingness to ever stop pushing you to be the best that you can. She helped me develop my love for writing,she taught me to always dig deeper because when it comes to learning there’s never an end point. Every single moment of frustration was followed by an increase of reverence whether it was her pushing me to a better writer and director or just sitting on the sidelines and letting me learn from my mistakes.

Oorvazi ma’am strives to teach you about film but unknowingly teaches you how to be a better learner and a greater person and for that I will always be grateful to her. To me she was more than just a teacher who had an allotted two hours,she is someone I look up to because she will never stop caring.



Testimonial by Altamash Jaleel

Testimonial

 

Altamash Jaleel

My first IB film student

International Baccalaureate, SVKM JV Parekh International School (batch 2010-2012)

Currently pursuing his dream course in the footsteps of his idol Martin Scorsese

Student BFA in Film/TV Production at NYU Tisch

Altamash pic

 

I came to Ms. Oorvazi Irani’s IB (International Baccalaureate) film class as a Martin Scorsese fanboy and graduated the program as a full-time Cinemaniac. Ms. Irani is a living, breathing film encyclopedia, and her students develop not only an appreciation for the great masters like Truffaut and Kurosawa, but come out with an education of the entire history of cinema and how it shapes and unites cultures through the universal language of film. But, I feel that there is an even greater aspect to her approach, and that is in her persistence to find one’s truth. She advocates the ‘auteur’ path to filmmaking and has always encouraged me to reflect on my personal experiences as source material for my films. I think I was very lucky to have her as my first film teacher, since she never stopped pushing me to dig deeper and find meaning in the littlest of these experiences so that I could write and direct a personal story, and ultimately a film that I will always be proud to call my first.

 

 

 



“Liv and Ingmar”: The Journey of the Filmmaker Dheeraj Akolkar – An Interview by Oorvazi Irani

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I met Dheeraj through his film “Liv and Ingmar” and immediately connected, and made him a friend for life. In spite of not  having met him I yet feel that I know him so well. One of the few films in modern times that will remain with me for a lifetime is this film which is in the form of a documentary because of its real life dynamics but goes beyond that in its cinematic and artistic experience.  The tenderness and yearning for truth is at the core of this film and moved me. The theme of Love so precious to human beings is unfolding on screen through the beautiful prism of the lover Liv Ullmann and the filmmaker Dheeraj.  I invited Dheeraj to speak about his journey as a filmmaker, an artist who made this film a reality and what I share with you is an inspiring real life story of deep faith, sincerity,passion and love. …Oorvazi Irani

 

1. Every film has a journey for an artist and the process when reflected upon is a great self realization. Would you like to share with us some of the secrets it revealed to you about yourself and the world, before you started working on this film.

‘Liv & Ingmar’ was very important on many levels. To be able to envisage a film and then to actually make it are both things that can stay on a piece of paper or in the heart of many filmmakers. I was struggling to get the film made.

I wanted very badly to make films. Your question takes me back to those times in London when things got so difficult that for a moment I thought that this world is not going to let me put two pieces of images together with a little sound on it. It got that bad.

I developed and sent out 22 film projects in 18 months to different funding agencies. This could come off as desperation. And it was. I wanted to make films. I met with producers who played with my situation. They came on board and did nothing. Then they left me in lurch. I would write emails and make several phone calls that would all go unanswered.

Do you know this feeling inside your heart, when you have so much to say and so much to give and so much to do, but all you meet are walls… dead, cold walls, that you don’t know where to begin, what doors to knock on and if there are any doors.

But I believe in action. I believe in doing. I also have friends who yank me out when necessary by saying one or two harsh things.

So I kept trying.

I wrote the theme of ‘Liv & Ingmar’ as a poem, then my friend Christina Christensen brought for me Liv’s address from Norway and in complete naivety I wrote her a letter. Then Liv called and expressed her support. That point was a very bright point of hope. I thought to myself – “Liv has said YES, which means I can do this. So I am gonna…”

Then my friend Rocco helped me build a trailer together. We did this sitting in Goldsmiths college library where we both worked in the graveyard shift at the library reception.

Then I started taking the project out in the UK and I went to many people. Most said that this story belonged to Scandinavia and had nothing to do with the UK so I wouldn’t have any support.

Then I met Mr. Uberto Pasolini ( Producer of ‘The Full Monty’, ‘Bel Ami’ etc and Director of ‘Machan’ and ‘Still Life’ ) Uberto suggested I went to Sweden. Sitting in his office he dug out the contact details of Ms. Katinka Farago who worked as Mr. Bergman’s script girl since ‘Wild Strawberries’ and who later produced masterpieces such as ‘Fanny and Alexander’ and Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘The Sacrifice’.

So I wrote to Katinka, who by then had retired and instead directed me to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and The Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm.

That year I went to Cannes with my short film and walked up and down that croisette meeting different people, collecting addresses, seeking meetings and failing quite a lot 

I returned to London and wrote to all the contacts I had found. 70 producers in Sweden and 10 producers in Norway and eventually they all said a big NO. In addition to saying NO, they were very keen to inform me that I was not going be able to make this film, that this film had no theatrical future and that it was not a story worth telling because “There was too much Bergman in the Market anyway..”

It kills you slowly. So many rejections. And suddenly the number people directly telling you that “you are a failure” increases rather rapidly. I had people laugh in my face and at times behind my back and that is not a pleasant thing at all.

My friend Marie Bonnel who was my guardian angel in London, used to organize dinners on Monday evenings because that used to be my day off from work, invited me over for one such lovely dinner at her place in South Kensington. There I met someone who had an invitation to the Swedish Ambassador’s house for a Book Release on Mr. Bergman. He could not go, and offered me to go instead. So I pulled out some decent clothes and took a bus to Mr. Ambassador’s residence.

It was a lovely evening and I spoke to the ambassador about my film who kindly asked his secretary to put me in touch with some important people in Stockholm, one of whom turned out to be Professor Maaret Koskinen.

So in 2009 I decided to go to Stockholm. My friend Love Kallmann offered me a place to stay in his house. I got cheap air tickets and went off.

Professor Koskinen was super supportive of the film and she introduced me to The Bergman Foundation and producers of ‘Saraband’ Mrs. Pia and Mr.Torbjorn Ehrnvall, who by then had also retired, but were encouraging.

Then in 2010 I was fired from my Library job due to recession. This whole time I was writing and filming and doing other things, but now I also needed the money.

My friend James Wallace was acting in a play called ‘The Peddler’s Tale’ at Edinburgh Fringe and his director was looking for someone to film the production, so I went to Scotland on the job and the first person James introduced to me was actress Ms. Ragnhild Lund from Oslo, Norway.

Ronnie, as she is called by her friends, offered to take my material to Norway, which she did and got a meeting with Mr. Stein-Roger Bull and Mr. Rune Trondsen of NordicStories who wanted to meet me.

Dheeraj with Producer Rune Trondsen who stood by the film with steadfast determination

Dheeraj with Producer Rune Trondsen who stood by the film with steadfast determination

They came on board as producers and the rest is history. But till the very last moment the struggle to make the film right did not end. Different forms of struggles came up…But now there were amazing collaborators on board and together we made ‘Liv & Ingmar’

To come back to your question, one of the greatest self realizations that this film gifted me was the knowledge that IT IS POSSIBLE !!!!!

Premier Haugesund Red Carpet

Premier Haugesund Red Carpet

It is possible to make a film you believe in making. It is possible to make it the way you believe its aught to be made. It is possible to do it RIGHT. It takes time, but that time helps the film more than anything else.

People can always laugh at you and call you a failure and take great happiness in your pain. But ultimately you are the only one who can fail yourself. And you have a greater responsibility, if you have to make the film.

In the end you realize that It’s not about you. It’s about the film.

 

2. How would you define Love ? When you are tackling a very delicate yet universal subject like Love – did the process enlighten you. Did it change any ideas you had or the film reemphasized your own experiences about love.

One of the main reasons why I wanted to make this film was Love. To have experienced it myself, I recognized what Liv had written in her book ‘Changing’ but I also recognized what she had not written.

 

Liv and Dheeraj

Liv and Dheeraj

‘Liv & Ingmar’ is not ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Heer Ranjha’ but it is a story of their kind of love, their kind of friendship. I find it real and very worldly. Far from perfect, filled with personal flaws and yet, beautiful and tender and forgiving and enveloping and unrequited on many levels.

I felt that a lot was strewn around in memoirs, scripts, letters, images, sounds and songs that could be woven together to look at a story from a tender point of view.

Our film is not a journalistic, court room account of truth. Our film is a journey of reminiscence with blurred edges, rounded corners and a walk in the woods with a tune to hum.

It certainly reinforced my belief that to love, one does not have to stay under the same roof. One does not have to be in the same city, country or continent. One does not have to be married or in a relationship with the person. Love is about two energies meeting in one single, bright point of truth. The rest of it is survival 

To love it is indeed not necessary to have love in return. One can love because one is capable of loving and giving. Love does not have to be a calculation depending on what you get in the process.

It frees you up, liberates you in a way you never understand. When you take responsibility for your action of love, nothing else affects it. And that is a beautiful feeling…

I don’t define love. I want to quote Gulzar saab’s song from ‘Khamoshi’ where he writes – “Pyaar ko pyaar hi rehene do, koi naam na do…”

Connections are about one point of truth, rest is destiny!

 

3. Do you feel Love is different for the male and female gender and how ? As a filmmaker did you feel you did justice to the two points of view ? And did the absence of Ingmar Bergman affect the film in any particular way.

I don’t think love is different according to genders. Love is human.

My idea was to touch upon the inexplicable, the unsaid. I don’t think ‘Liv & Ingmar’ defines love. But after the film, you may come out having experienced it and more.

At the end of the film that person sitting in front of the camera in a black shirt is not a superstar or a legend. To me it’s a beautiful 73 year old woman and she seems to say – “Yes, I held his hand. I loved.”

Liv and Ingmar's Teddy Bear

Liv and Ingmar’s Teddy Bear

It’s that simple.

That, you cannot challenge. That, you don’t challenge.

I don’t know what would have happened if Mr. Bergman was alive and a part of the film. Perhaps he would have added stories from his side. I would have loved to meet him and in some ways, I felt I did.

Having spoken to those close to him, I do know for sure that he missed Liv in the last days of his life.

In his whole house there is not a single image from his films, except one – In front of his bed, on a bare wall, is a photograph of Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson touching their foreheads in that immortal scene from ‘Saraband’.

That is love.

 

4. I feel an artist is always reflected in his work, do you agree and how do you see that manifesting itself in this film ?

I am not good at analysis of my own self and my work. In fact for many reasons I avoid it. I am sure that a lot of me is in the film. How can it not be? But I would rather leave it there.

Dheeraj's proud Mom and Dad in a beautiful moment with Liv

Dheeraj’s proud Mom and Dad in a beautiful moment with Liv

Making art is also about not knowing everything. Making art is about not having all the control. You make it from a point in yourself that you don’t understand, simply also because its not that concrete.

I felt deeply empty when ‘Liv & Ingmar’ finished. Perhaps that is a sign. And its best to leave it at that. 

 

5. Liv commented that your film was a gift to her ? Could you share with us how and why ?

I will never know what she exactly meant when she said at the dinner before the premier that this film was a gift to her.

But I have my own take on it.

She was always looked at as one of Ingmar’s actresses, as one of the many women in his life. She was criticised heavily for living with him and having a child out of wedlock. Many people believed that she used him and many people said nasty things about her and continue to do that.

Singapore press Conference

Singapore Press Conference

People forget that he went back to her 12 times. What does that say? People forget that he could have made these films with any other actress – why did he keep going back to Liv? People forget her contribution to those films and how much she brought to those roles. He himself writes in his autobiography that it would have been impossible to make these films without her.

She is the only woman to have ever directed an Ingmar Bergman script for cinema and she has directed two. They have a child together. The place where he declared his love for her, he built a home for her – a home that he lived and died in. They worked together for 42 years. She is in the last frame of his last film.

This kind of association does not happen in everybody’s life.

I am sure she must have been tremendously hurt by critical remarks from people, I am sure she must have felt insulted and humiliated. To such an extent that before his funeral a priest from the church in Faro island specially called her to inform her that she was not allowed to walk behind his coffin, because she was not married to him!!!

What must she have felt?

This world builds squares and if you don’t fit in, it is very quick to point fingers at you, to inform you that you are a failure in life because you did not follow the pretty squares…

Then comes someone wanting to make a film to celebrate what you had with the man. Someone recognises your contribution. Someone puts a camera on you and listens to your side of the story. Someone finally says, that what Liv and Ingmar had together, was something beyond that this world understands.

Perhaps there is no term yet coined for every emotion we feel. Perhaps there are things we don’t fully understand. Art allows us to experience that.

May be, that is why Liv felt that this film is a gift to her, not a critical whip-loving analysis, but a tender space that allowed a story to be told.

We were showing the film in Singapore at IIFA 2012. After the film, there was a question-answer session when a reporter asked Liv as to why she agreed to do this film with an unknown, young director from India and this is what she said,

“Sometimes you are 73 and you are standing on a bridge and you meet a stranger. He is a whole new generation than yours, he comes from a different country, from a different continent. He speaks a different language even and then he offers you his hand…”

“Sometimes you should take that hand and jump…”

I am happy Liv took my hand and jumped.

On behalf of everyone who made the film, I want to say that making ‘Liv & Ingmar’ was a gift to US 

"Liv and Ingmar" film team at Faro Island

“Liv and Ingmar” film team at Faro Island

Here is the official film website

http://www.livandingmar.com