Film London and Cinestaan Film Company have announced the six shortlisted projects from UK and India based on or inspired by Shakespeare’s works.
The project will see six filmmaking teams comprising Asian writers, directors and producers from the UK and India, developing projects which draw on the work of Shakespeare. The teams include Rajat Kapoor (known for acting roles in films like of Monsoon Wedding and directing features such as Raghu Romeo), producer Smriti Jain (line producer, The Lunchbox) and Kurban Kassam (line producer, 20,000 Days on Earth, The Possibilities Are Endless). The teams are being put through their paces at an intensive Film London Microschool this week, funded by the British Council. The expert training, advice and mentoring will see the teams hone their ideas and will touch every aspect of the filmmaking process.
Following the school, one feature will be greenlit and released theatrically in 2016 as part of Shakespeare 400 – a year-long cultural programme marking 400 years since the writer’s death.
Film London has also announced a new partnership with media investment firm Bob & Co, who will bring together UK production finance for the ambitious Microwave International: Shakespeare India production via a new Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). The news comes as six filmmaking teams drawn from India and the UK begin their intensive Microschool training.
Bob & Co joins India’s Cinestaan Film Company in financing the initiative, which sees Film London’s successful training-through-production scheme spanning two continents for the first time. Film London has forged these partnerships to deliver an innovative investment model, to enable the growth of the scheme which has proved itself to be a successful incubator for exciting new talent. Leveraging private finance sees Film London breaking new ground for the scheme, and the move heralds a step forward in terms of helping stories with global appeal reach audiences across the world. Andy Brunskill of Bob & Co film subsidiary SUMS brokered the deal and will Executive Produce the venture.
Guest speakers at Microschool will come from both continents with Ritesh Batra (director, The Lunchbox), Pete Travis (director, Dredd, Vantage Point), Jonathon Rushton (Head of Theatrical, Artificial Eye) and Pete Buckingham(founder, SampoMedia) holding sessions over the five days. Expert industry mentors include producers Andrea Calderwood (The Last King Of Scotland, A Most Wanted Man) and Tristan Goligher (45 Years, Weekend), directorsNandita Das (who has starred in over 40 films and made her directorial debut with Firaaq) and Amit Gupta (One Crazy Thing, Resistance), script developers Angeli MacFarlane (Death Of A President, I Am Slave) and Shefali Malhoutra (HBO, ITV), editor Mick Audsley (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Twelve Monkeys) and providing guidance on Indian distribution is Rahul Merchant (India’s FAME cinema chain, Bubble Motion Pte Ltd).
Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Securing two commercial investors from both India and the UK is a major achievement, and we are delighted both Bob & Co and Cinestaan share our ambition and can see the potential in this project. I am proud of our track record in successfully discovering and training exciting new filmmaking voices and I have high hopes of the talent we’re working with this week. It is hugely exciting to forge new partnerships and routes of finance to provide our teams with such a fantastic opportunity – with the longer term aim of strengthening links between the two industries and helping more talented filmmakers start their careers.”
Rohit Khattar, Chairman of Cinestaan Film Company said, “We are delighted that six really diverse projects have been shortlisted for the Microschool in London and are looking forward to greenlighting one of the projects for production. To partner with Film London for a film celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare is extremely exciting. Cinestaan is proud of India’s cinema heritage and this collaboration shall develop a unique production, uniting talent from India and the UK.”
Simon Flamank, Executive Director of Bob & Co, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this amazing project which will bring new talent to cinema screens. Bob & Co is well-versed in the commercial challenges and opportunities of developing film content to screen, and will provide business support to the project, alongside providing production support through our in-house production company, SUMS, headed up by Andy Brunskill. Having financed previous Microwave film Lilting and last year financing and shooting Indian-set Jet Trash, it feels like a very harmonious union all round.”
The selected projects for Microwave International: Shakespeare India are:
Realism (based on ‘Macbeth’)
Team: UK Writer/Director Ashish Ghadiali and Indian Producer Umesh Pawar
Caesar (based on ‘Julius Caesar’)
Team: UK Writer/Director Nirpal Bhogal, UK co-writer Mike Powell and Indian Producer Achin Jain
The Heart of the City (based on ‘The Taming of the Shrew’)
Indian Director Pratyusha Gupta, UK Writer Sharmila Chauhan, UK Producer Ameenah Ayub and Indian ProducerSmriti Jain
Mathura (based on ‘As You Like It’)
Indian Writer/Director Rajat Kapoor and UK Producer Uzma Hasan
The Crorepatis (based on ‘Titus Andronicus’)
Indian Writer/Director Bornila Chatterjee and Indian Writer/Producer Tanaji Dasgupta with UK Producer Kurban Kassam
Love and Longing in Rohtak (based on ‘The Merchant of Venice’)
Indian Writer/Director Vikas Chandra and UK Producer Ajay Rai