The "ITC Digital Talkies International Film Festival"
26-30 March, 2001 - New Delhi
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It had to happen, but when it did, it caught us completely by surprise from right out of left field, and even though all invites were so kindly sent to us, we missed the whole ding-dong show!!

Anyway ~ from all reports (and there were plenty!) it was one helluva blast, and a jolly good time was had by all and sundry at the first "ITC Digital Talkies International Film Festival" , with movies screened by the dozen all the way through from when Ms. Sushma Swaraj set things rolling at a gala opening ceremony and dinner as Chief Guest in her role as Information & Broadcasting Minister to the Government of India, all the way through to the posh Awards Night and Dinner at the super deluxe Maurya Sheraton Hotel & Towers.

That "ITC" in the name of the festival is of course the Indian tobacco & hospitality giant ~and owners of the Maurya~ who came in as lead supporter to the event along with the British Council in India, the Public Affairs Department of the US Embassy in New Delhi, the Federation of Film Societies of India, and the Government of India's Directorate of Film Festivals. Sponsors included Indian Airlines, Barco, B4U, PVR Cinemas, Glenmorangie, Jack Daniels, Fosters and Duty Free India.

So then who's "Digital Talkies"?

Well here's the scuttlebutt ~ this here's an outfit floated by some pretty big-time **brothers in arms including Shekhar Kapur (Film Director), Hari Shankar Bhartia (industrialist & serial-entrepreneur), Suhel Seth (Ad Boss), etc. (**and maybe one or two sisters).

And here's what the outfit had to say for itself in the opening pages of the festival-brochure, beginning with the following opening statement from Shekhar Kapur, as President of the Festival:

"The ITC Digital Takies International Film Festival is indeed an occasion to celebrate.

"This is the first time than an exclusive showcase is being put up for a type of visual storytelling that was all but non-existent six months ago. We did feel at the beginning of it all that Digital Video had the potential to change some of the restrictions and conventions applied to other forms of visual storytelling. The films that you will see as part of this festival prove that it has.

"What I see emerging from this festival is a new type of filmmaking ­ one that is a truly free and artistic expression of the filmmaker's intentions. Personally, these films fill me with hope. A new, democratic form of filmmaking has opened up; a transference of power has begun; a new generation of talent is finding its voice.

"Every year this festival will bring to you a showcase of the startling, brave, and innovative advances in Digital Filmmaking Internationally. I hope this festival will, over the course of the years, allow this nw medium to take its rightful place along with the already existing forms of visual communication.

[signed: Shekhar Kapur ~ PRESIDENT OF FESTIVAL]"

The following two texts from the brochure tell us a bit more about Digital Talkies itself, and why it's making the big "DV" deal:

Brochure text #1

"the story so far...

"Digital Talkies launched in September 2000 with a promise to help independent filmmakers tell their stories, and to ensure a pathway for those stories to an audience. A tall order by any standards in an environment where the lowest common denominator - economically as well as intellectually - was the determining factor in the majority of work.

"The challenges ahead of us were clear from the start, but that didn't make them any less monumental. We realized that Digital Video was the solution to the dearth of what Shekhar Kapur deemed "an honest cinema" at our launch press conference in New Delhi. But the job was in convincing the filmmaking community as well as the programming and distribution community that Digital Video, while it would never replace film, would open up a new vista of work - thematically as well as aesthetically.

"In October we started traveling - spreading the gospel, talking to believers and disbelievers, and singing the virtues of that subversive little tape format DV. We met filmmakers in Bangalore, Chennai, Calcutta and Mumbai. We met a lot of skepticism, but surprisingly even more enthusiasm. We met hundreds of filmmakers who were as frustrated as we were with all the restrictions that were placed upon image creation and story telling in the country. The time, it seemed, was ripe for a change.

"To kickstart production in Digital Video we decided to solicit proposals from filmmakers who wanted to enter into co-productions with us and thereby produce the first crop of Digital Video Cinema. We wanted to assist filmmakers based on their needs, and fill in the gaps that their resources could not. It was understood by the team at DT that we would try and support work that tried to actively search for a new aesthetic and a new thematic - something we felt was an essential exploration. If the new format of Digital Video was to survive and create a space for itself that would ward off irrelevant comparisons with celluloid and video, there had to be the active development of a cinematic language that would be different, new, and relevant to the medium.

"We received over 400 proposals for co-production. We had been expecting less than half that amount. Success, it seemed, had brushed us. We entered the next stage of operations, approaching about 15 filmmakers with offers of co-production, after many nights and days of fervent debate and cold pizza.

"There followed negotiations, heart break, exhaustion, and exhilaration. We mounted ten productions almost simultaneously in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, and Gujarat. We were besieged by unions, held ransom by equipment failures, and handicapped by our own lack of knowledge.

"We had entered uncharted seas - without really having bothered to see if we could swim.

"It's four months later, and we're still alive. Call it luck, youthful stubbornness, belief, or simply having the right idea at the right time and hoping. The festival marks the culmination of the first phase of our work here at Digital Talkies - to help create Digital Video work, and to help create an awareness and appreciation for it.

"And there's more to come."

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Brochure text #2

"why digital video?

"Filmmaking has never been more accessible and affordable. New digital technologies are empowering a wave of independent filmmakers - allowing them to make the cinema that is closest to their ideas. They no longer have to devote time and energy to protracted and often fruitless attempts to find finance. They no longer have to cede creative control to financiers. Because digital video (DV) budgets are so much lower, filmmakers can make films more often, take more risks, and keep practicing their craft. DV allows filmmakers to take greater creative risks. Given the cost of production, they have little to lose by experimenting, and a lot to gain if they can make a truly original film. DV is shifting power from financiers to filmmakers, who no longer need their money, permission, or approval.

"There is a revolution in the air.

"This subversive little videotape format has achieved much in the last few years. Much work has been created on DV, not all of it good. Much debate has been centered on fallacious comparisons of film with DV. Many festivals have shown DV films, most only when the DV is converted, at great cost, to celluloid.

"But, most importantly, DV has thrown up a whole range of new and exciting possibilities in storytelling and aesthetics. There is an excitement at hand - that of the discovery of a whole new format in imagemaking - a realization that if DV isn't film, it certainly isn't video either. DV work is unfettered, artisanal, renegade, and very hip. It may not be replacing film, but it is certainly making a lot of people sit up and take notice.

A great democratic vista of the people's work is opening up.

The Digital Talkies Festival 2001 is India's first showcase for exceptional works made in digital video worldwide. Over 250 films were submitted for consideration, a screening panel went through them and selected 58 films for showcasing in the competitive category of the festival. These films, from all over the world, come together over the next five days to announce that the future of filmmaking may well be within the grasp of the talent and not the money.

Above all, we believe the festival is a celebration of talent and resourcefulness applied to cutting edge technology.

~x~

The Films:

DAY ONE, 27TH MARCH 2001

BLOCK A

BOXES / 96 minutes / Rene Besson (USA)
This film deals with boxes ­ the box you drive to work in, the box you work out of. From the cradle to the coffin, life is a series of boxes

CARMA COMA / 8 minutes / EntitiFilm (India)
Motormouth and Gearhead are radio controlled by cars. Fuelled bu curiosity, the dream of unexplored horizons

BLOCK B

PACKAGE FROM THE FILM COUNCIL UK / 110 minutes / various (UK)
Films shot on Digital Video in the UK, in a package specially curated for this festival by the British Film Council

BIKE RIDE / 6 minutes / Tom Shroeder (USA)
An animated film in which a man takes a lonely bike ride to his girlfriends house, only to receive the cold shoulder

BLOCK C

PERFECT DAY / 100 minutes / Nishit Saran (India)
Love's losses remembered in a day that will change your life as surely as it does that o the protagonist. Co-Produced by Digital Talkies

Shakthi / 35 minutes / Sunil Poovely (India)
Two painters talk about the relationship they are having ~ at once funny, poignant, sexual and slightly dangerous

BLOCK D

ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN / 90 minutes / Todd Verow ­ invited film (USA)
Todd Verow has been called the Speilberg of Digital Video. His film is a portrait of a cross-dressing rock star

BLOCK E

MIRAGE / 10 minutes / Rajesh Hebbar (India)
A life approaches death and survives

FORTE TOY / 2 minutes / Ram Madhvani (India)
An innovative animation short public service announcement about organ donation

PURGATORY / 7 minutes / Michael Frank (Australia)
A young woman wakes up in a hospital where things are not how they seem, in this award winning experimental short from Australia

SLEEP / 10 minutes / Siddhartha Kelkar (India)
Who gets any in today's world?

FOUR ZERO FIVE / 11 minutes / Bruce Branit (USA)
The most watched film on the internet tell the story of a landing airplane

IMAGE / 10 minutes / Viveck Budakoti (India)
Is there any forgiveness for the repentant sinner?

FREEFALLING / 5 minutes / Mayank Jain (India)
How is art dissipated? Follow a piece of writing and the effect it has on the reader

TAKI NAKI / 4 minutes / Nishant Goyal (India)
A music video for the song Taki Naki by State of Bengal takes a new look at relationships

KAMPKAPI / 2 minutes / Gauri Patwardhan (India)
A short animation piece that uses an Eskimo legend to tell the tale of how summers turn into winter

MONDAY MORNING / 6 minutes / Karan Singh (India)
A young man drives to work on Monday morning through the usual rush hour Mumbai traffic

SMALL TOWN HEROES / 17 minutes / SplitEnds (India)
SplitEnds are a group of young filmmakers from Shillong. This wry and humourous piece is about life in the North East

BLOCK F

URF PROFESSOR / 120 minutes / Pankaj Advani (India)
Follow a Portly hitman around the underbelly of Mumbai's underworld in this surreal urban black comedy from the fertive mind of Pankaj Advani. {roduced by Digital Talkies

DAY TWO, 28TH MARCH 2001

BLOCK A

HOUSE OF MEMORY / 78 minutes / Chris Mitchell (UK)
A broken and war ravaged house becomes the focus point for a discussion on war and rememberance in the context of the Lebanese Civil War

PRISON SCARS / 45 minutes / Bernd Reufels (Germany)
Life in an East German prison camp for political dissidents revisited after the fall of the Berlin Wall

BLOCK B

A SMALL MIRACLE / 80 minutes / Kenneth Bi (Hong Kong)
A small-time accountant sees his life change when he receives a mysterious package in the mail. Things get very good, before they get very bad

BLOCK C

GOS OF TIMES SQUARE / 60 minutes / Richard Sandler (USA)
A world premiere of the latest version of this now classic DV documentary that looks at the various religions that co-exist in New York's Times Square

GODASS / 90 minutes / Esther Bell (USA)
In her first feature, Esther Bell makes an offbeat comedy about how having a gay father can be the lest of a young teenage girl's problems

BLOCK D

THE END / 4 minutes / Pushkar AKS & Gayatri (India)
The lone survivor of a worldwide holocaust contemplates the possibilities of a new beginning in the end

I WATCHED YOU FALL / 11 minutes / Ruchi Bakshi (India)
An experiment in sound, light and colour by a student at the National Institute of Design

SPOT ON LITERACY / 2 minutes / Monisha Chatterjee (India)
As the name suggests. Each one teach one, and all that good stuff

HOLUD THE WASTELAND / 10 minutes / Rajashe Das (India)
An experimental short featuring an errant nuclear grenade and a reluctant hitman

FEAR THIS / 7 minutes / Mrigdeep Lamba (India)
The latest from Sardar and Sardar Productions. Be very afraid ­ you were warned

ELEVATOR ETIQUETTE / 13 minutes / Karan Anshuman (India)
Are you polite? Let this film show you what to do in an elevator

ANOKHA / 20 minutes / Sudipto Sarkar (India)
Dancers from an Indo-French dance troupe performing on the streets of Ahmedabad

UNTITLED / 51 minutes / Abhunday Khaitan (India)
A short film examines the nature of seeing ­ seeing clearly and seeing once more like a child does

P.O.V. / 12 minutes / Ayesha Sood (India)
Life in the fast lane in New Delhi. Is everything like you thought it was. Or should we be looking deeper? Co-Produced by Digital Talkies

BLOCK E

STROKE / 97 minutes / Rob Nilsson ­ invited film (USA)
Phil Berkowitz, street poet, has a stroke. This is the story of what happens to him after. Part of multiple award winning filmmaker Rob Nilsson's 9 at night series produced in association with Tenderloin, A San Fransisco homeless shelter

BLOCK F

MATRIMONIALS.COM / 52 minutes / Krishna (USA)
Follow the tribulations of young NRI's seeking to find the right match

CAMERA, DOGMA15 / 83 minutes / Rich Martini (USA)
The ultimate voyeuristic film. Follow a camera around and see what it sees. Join the roller coaster ride to find out.

DAY THREE, 29TH MARCH 2001

BLOCK A

EURO UNDERGROUND PACKAGE / 90 minutes / various (EU)
A package of short films representing the very best of digital video made by Europeans living and working in the USA

BLOCK B

RAMLILA / 28 minutes / Subhash Kapoor (India)
Get behind the scenes and into the greasepaint of North India's favourite spectacle ­ the spectacular Ramlila. Co-Produced by Digital Talkies

TANZRAUM / 30 minutes / Uli Plank (Germany)
A film about life and death, the group and the individual, war and peace, and whatever is stirred up in you own mind by this abstract exploration of music, film and dance

"9392888" / 30 minutes / Vishwajyoti Ghosh (India)
Kaun Banega Crorepati? Doesn't everyone? Produced by Digital Talkies

BLOCK D

6 EASY PIECES / 68 minutes / Jon Jost ­ invited film (USA)
6 Easy Pieces traces the history of the visual image in a lyrical film by one of the world's first filmmakers to embrace Digital Video

BLOCK E

DIVYA DRISHTI / 120 minutes / Sidharth Srinivasan (India)
When vision is a curse, and blindness reveals a truth no one can digest. A world premiere feature film expose of middle class hypocrisy in Mumbai's suburbs. Produced by Digital Talkies

BLOCK F

SHAWL / 30 minutes / Muzaffar Ali (India)
The poignant tale of a young woman's attachment to a shawl and the memories it holds for her is the result of a collaboration between Muzaffar Ali and Parveen Talhi. Produced by Digital Talkies

MOTTUKKA / 52 minutes / B. Lenin (India)
From the editor of films like Appu Raja comes a delightful little film about a boy who is petrified of his new teacher and the dreaded punishment of moukka ­ banging one's fist upon the hapless child's head. Produced by Digital Talkies

DAY FOUR, 30TH MARCH 2001

BLOCK A

CANADIAN PACKAGE / 52 minutes / Claude Paquet (Canada)
A compilation of different works of artists from Canada representing the very best of digital video production in the country

IT'S FOR YOU / 102 minutes / Bruno Pacheco (Canada ­ Spain)
Watch how video letters have npw replaced love letters in this obsessive relationship across seven seas

BLOCK B

PAPPA & JAG / 39 minutes / Linda Vastrik (Sweden)
The journey of a young woman seeking to confront the demons of her father's absence in her life. An uncompromising and brave true story.

MY FRIEND SU / 57 minutes / Neeraj Bhasin (India)
Two young men talk about art, life and sexuality in the urban Indian context. Could this be your story? Co-Produced by Digital Talkies

BLOCK C

KALAMA SUTTA / 96 minutes / Holly Fisher (USA)
Exoerimental documentary in which a trip to Burma is transformed into a meditation on human rights and media

BLOCK D

PANDAVAS / 90 minutes / Pentamedia Graphics ­ Invited Film (India)
"Pandavas ­ The Five Warriors" is an adaptation of one of India's greatest epics, the "Mahabharata". By using break-through technology for 3-D modeling, motion capture and animation, the movie has captured this beautiful tale into a full length 3D animation movie


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Digital Talkies
Ambadeep Building (21st flr.)
Kasturba Gandhi Marg
New Delhi ­ 110 001 (India)

Tel: (91-11) 373 8771, 331 0852