TIFF 2017: Rima Das’ ‘Village Rockstars’ in the Discovery Section

‘Village Rockstars’ is the fourth Indian film to be selected at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival,  after Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Mukkabaaz’ (The Brawler), Bornila Chatterjee’s ‘The Hungry’ and Hansal Mehta’s ‘Omerta’
– Rutwij Nakhwa

Rima Das’ heartfelt film about a spirited young girl in a small Assamese village has travelled from strength to strength.

‘Village Rockstars’ was among the eight Work-in-progress Lab projects at the Hong Kong International Film Festival’s (May 2017) Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) where it won the White Light Studio award (post-production fund). Of the eight HAF films, four (including ‘Village Rockstars’) were selected to screen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, in a first time collaboration titled Hong Kong Goes to Cannes.  The film was also at the 2016 NFDC Viewing Room (Film Bazaar Recommends) and was presented at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival’s industry program (International Works in Progress selection).

The film centres around a 10-year-old deprived village girl, Dhunu, who learns to fend for herself in hostile surroundings while dreaming one day to own a guitar.

Dhunu’s goal is to form a band, the Rockstars, with a group of local boys. Besides poverty she also has to fight gender rules on how a local girl should behave and aim for, with strict taboos when puberty occurs.

“Dhunu considers herself as capable as boys in a patriarchal society. She was brought up by a non-conformist mother who gave her full freedom of expression”, said Das.

Das’ debut film ‘Antardrishti’ (Man with the Binoculars) screened at Cannes Marché du Film and the Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival last year. Das says that while shooting this film, she discovered these children and villagers celebrating life even in their deprivation. It made her realise what she was missing in Mumbai with all this technology around her.

Director Rima Das, now living between Mumbai and Guwahati, is from the same village as the character Dhunu. She was inspired to make a children-based film after her trips back to her hometown.

Das has shot, directed and produced ‘Village Rockstars’ with help from her cousin and local young actors. She has recorded the sound on her own and mostly used natural lighting due to the lack of a lighting crew. The film got editing support from the PJLF Art fund in Rome.

It now comes in its final completed form and glory to TIFF.

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