India to Get Spotlight at 10th Zurich Film Festival
For its tenth edition, the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) welcomes India as its New World View section guest. In doing so, ZFF highlights a country with a tradition spanning more than 100 years of cinematic history and a production output - between 800 and 1000 films annually - that makes it the globe's undisputed number 1. It is, however, not the formally corseted mass cinema tradition known in the west as Bollywood that is of interest, but the latest developments in the type of auteur film that first came to the world's attention in the mid 50s thanks to such luminaries of the so-called Indian New Wave as Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen.
In explaining the decision to choose India, the co-directors Nadja Schildknecht and Karl Spoerri said, "new Indian cinema has experienced an upsurge in recent years, and not just on the subcontinent." It is among young filmmakers that the change is most visible. The festival-directors go on to say, "New projects have been realised over The Past few years that undermine common stereotypes. The movement from mainstream to independent cinema is unmistakable. This development is incredibly exciting." Even the large festivals such as Cannes have discovered the potential of Indian cinema for themselves. There has not been a line-up in recent years that did not include an Indian film. Schildknecht and Spoerri are certain for this reason that "focussing on India can only serve to enrich the 10th ZFF."
M.K. Lokesh, the Ambassodor of India to Switzerland, is delighted by the festival's choice: "Over the years, the Indian film industry has achieved a very high level of technical standards and directional skills.In the Indo-Swiss context, the Indian cinema, by capturing the natural beauty of Switzerland in many films, contributed to Swiss popularity among Indian tourists. It is befitting that the Zurich Film Festival is showcasing India as the guest country this year."
Indeed, Indian festival entries are usually and rightfully praised for their thematic freshness and high cinematic quality. The best examples of these attributes include Vasan Balas' promising debut PEDDLERS, a captivating relationship drama in the form of a thriller; the romantic comedy The Lunchbox by newcomer Ritesh Batra, and the family/gangster saga GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, Anurag Kashyap's „Indian Godfather" (NZZ am Sonntag) - with a budget of 45 M USD, the most expensive non-Bollywood production to date.
It was not only with the launching of The Lunchbox in 2013 that ZFF reacted early to the subcontinent's cinematic signals; guest in Zurich and highly successful producer Guneet Monga (THE LUNCHBOX, THE GANGS OF WASSEYPUR and PEDDLERS) also offered a preview of things to come during her ZFF Master Class. Bollywood bastion Yash Raj Films hired Guneet Monga's for the international sales and distribution of the adolescent drama TITLI - an indication that the traditional Indian film scene is giving independent domestic cinema a commercial chance.