Film Education


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 Rahul Sharma

TESTIMONIAL 

 

Rahul Sharma

International Baccalaureate Film Student, SVKM International School (Batch 2011-13)

My talented young filmmaker is currently on his way to pursue MA Filmmaking at the London Film School

Director & Screenwriter – “Story of a Lonely Goldfish” (20min)

Rahul

Rahul posing with his Film Poster at the Seattle International Children’s Film Festival

 

‘Rahul. Take it easy. Plan it out well. You don’t have to shoot tomorrow. Let’s brainstorm first.’ These are the words that echo in my mind when I think of my film teacher and mentor Oorvazi Irani. As you can figure it, I was always in a hurry..to experience things…to make films…to live life…or even to be free. But it’s at times like these that you need someone to tell you to hold on, take a step back, understand and evaluate. And only when you’re ready, allow you to fly. Such was her role in my nurturing across the years.

She lent utmost support to me when I directed my first experimental film ‘Huma’ (7 minutes) be it in its conceptualisation or storyboarding to even the final touches in the editing suite. The best part about her involvement was that she gave me enough creative liberty and space to carry out my own ideas. She was just there to guide them and put them forth in the right direction.

Most of my love for cinema..its vast horizons of genres..its numerous techniques..and knowledge about some of the great masters of the artform were inculcated by her. During my IBDP (International Baccaulaureate Diploma Programme) course, I was able to write a 4000-word extended essay on Akira Kurosawa and portrayal of violence in its most unique facets in his films. I also wrote a 12-minute audio visual script conceptualising myself as a narrator talking about The French New Wave and its Influences on cinema from across the world such as the Hollywood New Wave and the Iranian New Wave. The IBDP film curriculum required in-depth research, thorough analytical skills and above all passion. I owe all of this to Ms. Oorvazi Irani’s guidance, effort and most importantly, belief.

I remember I was overjoyed when her debut film Path of Zarathustra was released in theatres. Here is the work of an artist who defied stringent cultural paradigms, related to the true essence of her culture and recognised her own voice. The film not only breaks traditional Zoraoastrianism barriers but also lucidates forward thinking with courage and spirit. I have also never seen anyone maintain the dualist balance of an actor-director better than my film teacher in her first work of art.

I look forward to seeing more of her films and would recommend her course ‘Filmmaking for Beginners’ to all cinephiles, cinema lovers and anyone even remotely interested in the art, as she is someone who can reinvigorate her energy into you.



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.

 

 

 



My Short film “Mamaiji” (Grandmother) at the 7th IDSFFK International Documentary and Short Film festival of Kerala

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It is always a joy to be traveling with your film and I feel that a work of art is always in the making, it is never really complete, you discover it a new way through the eyes of the audience each time and your work takes a rebirth.

Recently I was invited with my short film “Mamaiji”(Grandmother) to the 7th IDSFFK International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.  I received a personal email from the Artistic Director Bina Paul Venugopal , who is the heart and soul of the festival(and has sadly retired from the festival this year) and I quote This year along with IAWRT we are programming a section of Short Fiction Films by Women  and would very much like to screen Grandmother in this Special Focus which was to be curated by Anupama Sreenivasan, Festival Director IAWRT (The International Association of Women in Radio and Television) Asian Women’s Film Festival. I am also very grateful along with Bina to Anupama for taking interest in my little film and giving it a beautiful platform starting with the IAWRT festival itself held earlier in June 2014. So it seemed Kerala was calling and I packed my bags to visit the beautiful land.

Once I reached Kerala I was in the care of Bandhu Prasad who was in charge of the Festival Filmmakers’ Liason & Artists’ Facilitation Desk who made all the necessary arrangements for us to feel at home and enjoy the festival. As I drove from the airport to the hotel I cannot forget the first impression of leaping white waves dancing to their bliss of existence, so complete so powerful a vision that stayed with me and one of the regrets of this visit was that I did not find the company in others or myself to come back to the seashore but my wish was fulfilled in a cinematic experience latter in the festival itself so that was some consolation. I quickly proceeded to my hotel and reaching on July 18th was in time for the Opening Ceremony of the festival which had an inspiring speech by Rajiv Mehrotra, Managing Trustee PSBT(Public Service Broadcasting Trust), who I made a mental note of to meet in the near future. He was not quiet the person I had in mind who would head a government organization like PSBT as he passionately advocates the cause of the independent documentary in India.

Opening ceremony

 

I met a few friends, one of who was on the Jury ( no, I  would not be breaking any rules if I met him as my film was not in competition and was part of a Special Focus section) but he was kept so busy by the Festival authorities during the festival that I could not spend any time with him on the remaining days which was disappointing but was compensated by other activities and films and there was always something exciting to do.  The two opening films “La Estancia” and “Nelson Mandela, The Myth and Me” both were a good beginning to exploring new perspectives. There was dinner thereafter and a good night’s rest followed.

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19th July and I open my hotel door to be greeted with headlines from the festival. It felt like company  to be welcomed by the newspaper of the state mentioning your film. That was the day my film was to be screened. It was an almost packed house for the Special Focus session. There was a special Q and A arranged with the filmmakers but what was a slight damper was that each film did not get its focus in the Q&A as it was after all the 4 films screened and some of the audiences started walking out of the auditorium after the screenings. But that is always the case and why do I complain, there are so many films to catch in a festival like this.

Standing for the Q&A with Anupama and the other young woman filmmakers Anoodha Kunnath, Arya Rothe in the special focus ‘Films by Women’ an interesting question arose about the perspective of women filmmakers, the question put to Anoodha who had directed her short film ‘My Grandfather’s Yakshi’  was that why did she not use a young girl as the protagonist and instead a boy as the film was born out of her own personal life and something her grandfather use to tell her. What was more interesting is when the topic came to the discussion what really consisted in the film which was unique as a woman director’s perspective and I in turn asked the audience what they felt in her film was not a woman’s perspective. We were told that the cameraman must have been a male gender as the way he captured the female ‘Yakshi’ was sensual and more like a man.

This opened a very interesting question to explore in all our films. What is it that a woman filmmaker can do or say in a film, is she just more sensitive and can we really find a particular vocabulary in women filmmakers’ in modern times and is there a need. Of course there was Laura Mulvey and a lot of independent women filmmakers before and after her who fought the traditional grammar of filmmaking to represent the woman as object and made radical shifts but are there nuances that are subtle yet obvious in a woman filmmaker. In fact its always sensitive men filmmakers like Satyajit Ray that we talk about in relation to powerful women sensitive films and many commercial women film directors today don’t like being slotted as a woman filmmaker. Can you really tell the difference is something that I have not yet found a definite answer for and am still searching as an audience and artist.  It’s interesting that my film never set out to be about a woman but yes the feminine gender does hold an important place in my identity and search as an artist which subconsciously surfaces itself in my work. The film for me was about making the ‘ordinary’, ‘extraordinary’ which is all around us and in its simple existence is so beautiful and rich. There were some questions about my film which I was most happy to discuss and the film had a fan (who had most of the questions to ask) in one charming young lady who was a young filmmaker herself,  Vaishnavi and was participating with her film “Doll” dealing with the metamorphosis of a relationship between a young girl and a barber, there was a passion and excitement that I saw in her eyes and I am sure she will go places, we connected and remain so.

Oo in audience

I did shortlist quite a few films but just managed to see the following which I was richer by the experience and touched me in more ways than one.

I would like to make a special mention of the documentary “The Invisible wars”. I was choked  by the Investigate Documentary directed by Kirby Dick dealing with the epidemic of rape within the US military and its cover up. Here are these strong women who are broken from within and their lives are not the same. Sitting at a comfortable distance from the trauma I could not even begin to understand their pain and justice was in the waiting. I felt I needed to follow the story in real life and hoped justice would be delivered soon, here is one film which goes into the real world and can make a difference. The documentary premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and was also nominated for the academy awards.


Trailer “The Invisible wars”

My desire for the sea was soon fulfilled and I experienced cinematic pleasure for 81 min seeing the “Coast of Death”  – a poetic ode to the Galician coast in northwestern Spain in which a fly on the wall camera observes the magical land of ‘meigas’(witches) where fog and drizzle prevail. The filmmaker says We adopt a slow and poetic view, letting time going by within the image´s frame, this allows us to observe landscape´s movements. To convey the idea of dialogue and relationship between landscape and people we use wide shots where the human figure is seen distant but his voice is heard close. The story suggests the experience of Finisterre´s landscape. A journey that will go away from reality to a dreamy look immersed in the mythical representation of the Coast of Death. This experimental feature was judged the best New Director at the Locarno Film festival 2013.

Trailer “Coast of Death”

I was introduced to the personal and professional world of Sukhdev by his daughter Shabnam Sukhdev who takes us on a personal journey coming to terms with her famous father after his death, trying to find the man and father she never understood all her childhood and a coming of age film. It was a beautiful discovery  titled “The Last Adieu” .

Trailer “The Last Adieu”

I took this opportunity not to miss seeing the animation film “True Love Story”(18 min) by Gitanjali Rao sensitively and creatively capturing a Bollywood style love story as a theme which was part of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival 10 selected short films at the Critics Week. I would like to quote below from an interview done by Animationexpress.com

True Love StoryTrue Love story 2

 

What inspired to make ‘True Love Story’?

I had been toying with the idea of first love for a while. And being a Bombayite I spent a lot of time in traffic jams watching at life unfolding on the street sides. I began to get interested in the lives of street boys who work hard selling flowers and books at traffic signals but are looking for love by impressing girls all the time.  I loved observing the small flirtations that happen between these flower sellers. I wished to tell the story of these young boys and girls who have complicated migration stories yet their spirit survives in the chaos of the big city, and then, emerged a first love story between two people living on the streets of Bombay.

 

Another charming world opened up with the documentary “Songs of the Blue Hills” by Utpal Borpujari. It is a feature length documentary, the first ever film (mentioned by the filmmakers) to present a wide range of Naga music and musicians to take the viewer on a journey through contemporary forms of Naga folk music.  

During the course of the festival I happened to enter a screening of a film in progress by a young filmmaker Tanushree Das. I was impressed by its contemplative style and self-reflection which used image, sound and the medium of sms text messages, “For You and Me” is a film of yearning and the struggle to sustain relationships in a society steeped in both physical as well as technological distance. Since I reached almost at the end and missed it I made it a point to communicate with the director at the festival and managed to make contact and now await to see the film which she has so kindly personally shared with me.

Bina Paul Venugopal introducing the Impact Campaign Workshop conducted by IDF

Bina Paul Venugopal introducing the Impact Campaign Workshop conducted by IDF

One of the other highlights of the festival were the workshops and one of them attracted me was titled ‘Impact Campaign Workshop’ Conducted by the IDF Indian Documentary Foundation which is a Not-for-profit organization co-founded by Jaaved Jaaferi and Sophy VSivaraman for the Promotion, Development and Funding of Documentaries in India and about India. I felt the workshop was targeted for young filmmakers and some experienced filmmakers felt out of place during some of the activities but however it was nice to be introduced to this platform which is very encouraging for the medium of documentary and non-commercial film. So I might catch up with Sophy and the gang in the near future and see if worlds meet and if it interests you do have a look at their website and work.

Sophy VSivaravan Co Founder of IDF

Sophy VSivaravan Co Founder of IDF

Javed Jaaferi talks about IDF

 

The festival for me was coming to an end and it was not possible to attend everything and one of the many things I missed were the films and talk by Saba Dewan, who was the Filmmaker in Focus at the festival, and will explore her work shortly. She says  Paradoxically, more creative documentaries are made in the of darkest times and during the most oppressive regimes… Funding and distribution of documentaries are important, but if the film has nothing new or creative to convey, it will all be useless.

Saba Dewan

I did not go to the sea but I managed to pick up some traditional mundus for my dad from a Kerala emporium from the main market close by and ended my day with beautiful company with two spirited lovely lady filmmakers – Shashwanti Talukdar and Kavita who were put up in the same hotel as myself and were attending the festival with their film “Wall Stories”.

Wall Stories

I was leaving the next day and they had just arrived, we shared a meal and we parted, I came to Mumbai and they continued to savour the pleasure of being in the company of cinema.