An Indian Short Film Is Premiering At Sundance Film Festival After 15 Years

An Indian Short Film Is Premiering At Sundance Film Festival After 15 Years
Counterfeit Kunkoo

Independent Indian cinema is a vastly talented industry even if equally under appreciated in its own country. But this year many will have to look past their Bollywood blinders for an independent Indian short film; ‘Counterfeit Kunkoo’ has just made it to the 2018 prestigious Sundance Film Festival; one of the most coveted and competitive Independent film festivals in the world. From over 9000 entries this short, the brainchild of filmmaker Reema Sengupta, was one of the 69 to be selected under the festival’s International Narrative Shorts competition. The 15 min narrative drama talks about housing discrimination, marital rape and reclaiming one’s sexuality. It is an intimate perspective on the idiosyncrasies that come with the misogyny that seeps into our everyday lives. Its selection to the Sundance Film Festival is a landmark in Indian cinema at large because it is the first Indian fiction short to be an official selection at Sundance in the past 15 years. “It feels really surreal that the world is taking notice of a small indie short film we made hustling in some claustrophobic lanes of Mumbai. The pride of representing India is immense, as is the responsibility,” says 27-year-old Sengupta when asked about what it feels like for her work to be recognised at such a revered cinematic platform.

Speaking on the success of the film co-producer Kunal Punjabi said “It was unreal to see the passion with which Reema - the writer director and editor of the film - approached every aspect of the short film. The emotional stakes were high and the shooting conditions very difficult. It was also an absolute pleasure to see so many people coming together and helping with the film, only out of the faith they had in her vision.

Image Credit: Anish Sarai

For Sengupta the world through the lens is not a novel one. She has directed several documentaries, stop-motion animation projects, interactive video installations, and narrative films spanning across India, UK, South Korea and the US that have been recognised and awarded at various global platforms and also heads her own production house CATNIP. Still Counterfeit Kunkoo has been a relatively new venture. “My previous short films were in the genres of satire and science fiction. This is the first time I’m exploring a character-led narrative drama. A deep sense of helplessness and anger inspired me to make this film. It is so sad that the need for a roof over your head is being exploited as an opportunity to employ social prejudice,” she says.

The remarkable success of Counterfeit Kunkoo is an inspiration for independent filmmakers across the nation to take a leap of faith in matters of their art. As for Sengupta her words of wisdom to young filmmakers is simple-“make films without waiting for someone to come and make them happen. The struggle is real and so should be your hustle.”

The film’s world premiere will be next month at the Sundance Film Festival-the largest independent film festival in the world, in Park City, Utah, USA.

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