After his internationally acclaimed debut, “LABOUR OF LOVE”, director Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s next Bengali language feature “JONAKI” makes its world premiere at the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. An Indo French Singaporean co-production, the film will be screened in the Bright Future Section of IFFR 2018 to be held between 24th January and 4th February.
The film features 81-year-old actress Lolita Chatterjee (of Aap Ki Kasam & Victoria No. 203 fame) who is making her comeback as Jonaki along with Jim Sarbh (Neerja, Padmavati, A Death In the Gunj) and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee (Permanent Roommates).
Produced by Magic Hour Films, For Films, and Catherine Dussart Productions, Jonaki is a tale of an 80-year-old woman who searches for love in a strange world of decaying memories, while her lover, now old and grey, returns to a world she is leaving behind.
Thrilled about his second feature making its international debut at one of the most celebrated film festivals in the world, director Aditya Vikram Sengupta, says, “Jonaki is an esoteric journey of the unfulfilled life of an 80 years women. It is a film that is very personal to me and to have its world premier at Rotterdam is a true honour. IFFR celebrates and upholds auteur cinema with the highest regard and I think this is the perfect platform for us to showcase our vision.”
Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s award winning debut feature Labour Of Love premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2014 where it won the FEDEORA award for best Debut Film. The film then featured at over 70 international film festivals including Busan, London, Tallinn, Munich, Marrakech, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles and won 13 awards internationally. The film was also feted with two National Awards in 2015 including the esteemed Golden Lotus for Best Debut Film.
Samir Sarkar, Magic Hour Films, the principal producer of Jonaki says, “When I watched “Labour of Love, I realised I had found an Indian director that was out there to create a daringly distinct filmic language of his own. I wanted to support Aditya’s vision.”
Sarkar who was deeply involved with the production of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi adds, “Jonaki is another powerfully poignant tale of love lost. It is, in my opinion, one of those rare Indian films that has broken several boundaries to create an original Avant-garde style in filmmaking. Each frame is like a painting, each scene is thought provoking. IIFR will definitely help promote its journey”.
“Jonaki” is a tale of an 80-year-old woman who searches for love in a strange world of decaying memories, while her lover, now old and grey, returns to a world she is leaving behind.
Calcutta was made the imperial capital when the British colonised India, this made the state of Bengal a socio-cultural capital as well. Markedly influenced by western designs, a new breed of Bengalis emerged, aping the British lifestyle and thriving financially. They absorbed the shock of the west and stood superior to other fellow Bengalis yet not completely British. This now-nearly extinct class lived a life of convoluted lifestyle and clashing ideologies.
Such is Jonaki, the protagonist of this film, my Grandmother who I was incredibly fond of and shared an indelible bond with. Chronicles of her life, her affluent upbringing, her authoritarian mother, the loss of her father early were the subjects of my bedtime stories, as I lay beside her. Her most painful narration was her obliterated love for a Christian boy and her forceful marriage at the age of 16, which needless to say remained an unhappy one.
This plot is my imagination of what her thoughts could have probably been and my portrayal of them while she lay in coma for four days before she bid adieu. Is coma a mere state of unconsciousness? Or, is it a reflection of a life lived or denied?
About the Director
Aditya Vikram Sengupta is from Calcutta, India. He studied literature before pursuing studies in a reputed school of design. After specialising in graphic design, he trained himself in animation and film making. His student short films have screened at various international festivals and his paintings have been showcased in galleries across India.
His debut feature film LABOUR OF LOVE premiered at Venice 2014 where it won the FEDEORA award for Best Debut Film. The film has since featured at several festivals including Rotterdam, London & Busan among others and won several international awards. LABOUR OF LOVE also received 2 Indian National Film Awards in 2015 including the prestigious Best Debut Film award.
MAGIC HOUR FILMS
MAGIC HOUR FILMS, and its Production Services subsidiary FILM IN INDIA are award winning production companies with offices in Bombay, New Delhi, Pondicherry and Singapore.
Established in 2008, MAGIC HOUR FILMS produces Feature Films, Documentaries and TV Commercials. Our productions include a feature film for ARTE (France): “Alexandra David Neel – J’irai au Pays des Neiges”, “The Science of Compassion” a documentary by internationally acclaimed director Shekhar Kapur and others for National Geographic Channel & Discovery Channel. TVCs for Volkswagen, Honda, BMW, Nissan, Fiat, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Diageo, Viber, FedEx among others reputed brands. Magic Hour Films also provided production support on the Oscar winning feature film “Life of Pi” directed by Ang Lee.
Our recent awards include “Best Documentary Programme” Award for Danger Zone – Kabul at the Asian Television Awards in Singapore. A silver and a bronze for its TVC for Forest Essentials “Warrior Princess” at the Abbys, the Oscars of Indian advertising.
FOR FILMS (India)
Established in 2013, FOR FILMS was started with a view to creating quality cinema for a globally discerning audience. As the name suggests, the company’s raison d’être is everything that is film related and is a binding passion for each member of the team.
Their first film was the award winning Labour Of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe) directed by founder and in-house director Aditya Vikram Sengupta. FOR FILMS has also produced several commercial advertising films for reputed international and Indian brands.
FOR FILMS is presently engaged in developing two distinctly original feature films including Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s “Jonaki” & “Memories And My Mother”.
CATHERINE DUSSART PRODUCTIONS (France)
Since 1994, Catherine Dussart has produced and co produced feature films and documentaries through her company CDP. Credits include : Kalo Pothi by Min Bahadur Bham (Venice Film Festival Fedeora Award: Best Film 2015), Chauthi Koot by Gurvinder Singh (screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival) The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh (Cannes Film Festival 2013 – Un Certain Regard Award, Academy Award Best Foreign Film Nomitation), Araf by Y. Ustaoglu (Venice Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Black Pearl Award, Tokyo International Film Festival 2012), Goltzius by Peter Greenway (Rome International Film Festival 2012), Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell by R. Panh (Cannes Film Festival 2011) and many more.
International Film Festival Rotterdam
The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) is an annual film festival held in various cinemas in Rotterdam, Netherlands at the end of January. Since its founding in 1972, it has become one of the most important events in the film world, maintaining its focus on independent and experimental filmmaking by emerging talents and established auteurs. The festival also has a unique focus on presenting cutting edge media art and artist’s film, with most of the participants in the short film program identified as artists or experimental filmmakers. IFFR also hosts CineMart, for film producers to seek funding.