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Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Once Upon A Time in Calcutta to be screened at the prestigious Venice Film Festival

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 13: Director Aditya Vikram Sengupta attends the Film Maker Afternoon Tea during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at The Mayfair Hotel on October 13, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for BFI)

By: Rithika Siddhartha

A FILM BY an award-winning Indian has been selected to be shown at the 78th Venice International Film Festival.

Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s third Bengali feature film, Once upon a time in Calcutta, will be screened in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section of the prestigious film festival, to be held from September 1 to 11. It is the only film from India to have its world premiere at the event.

Sengupta’s debut film Labour of Love won the FEDEORA award for the best debut at the festival’s Venice Days section in 2014, while his second film, Jonaki, premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018. Labour of Love also won India’s National Film Award for the best first film.

“Venice is a dream festival for any filmmaker and we are extremely grateful and excited to be back with a Bengali film about the city, especially on the 100th birth centenary of Satyajit Ray,” Sengupta said in a statement.

“The film highlights the aspirations and struggles of people gasping for breath in an ever-expanding metropolis. For the viewer, I have tried to create a real glimpse into the murky waters of Calcutta, with colourful characters, all trying very hard to find a corner of their own without drowning,” he said.

Inspired by true events, the film is the director’s homage to Kolkata and follows the life of a bereaved mother trying to find a new identity, love and independence, but who soon realises she is not the only scavenger in a city brimming with hunger.

Sengupta called the film a “culmination of personal feelings and emotions for the city and its people”, especially as it tries to catch up to the rapidly changing world.

“Leveraging real characters and actual events, the film is my effort to chip away the various layers of the previously communist city to reveal a human condition that is tragic and yet full of hope and joy.

Along with veterans such as Sreelekha Mitra and Bratya Basu, the film features an ensemble cast in Satrajit Sarkar, Arindam Ghosh, Reetika Nondine Shimu and Anirban Chakrabarti along with young debutant Shayak Roy. A cast of non-professional actors, including Sengupta’s father, Tridib Sengupta, also feature in significant roles.

The film is shot by Palm d’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s cinematographer, Gokhan Tiryaki, and music is composed by Dutch composer, Minco Eggersman.

Once upon a time in Calcutta will compete with 18 other films including Pilgrims, Amira, Atlantide, The Falls, A Plein Temps, 107 Mothers, White Building and True Things.

Last year, director Chaitanya Tamhane’s “The Disciple” was selected in the main competition of the Venice International Film Festival while Ivan Ayr-directed Meel Patthar (Milestone), bowed in the Horizons segment, an international competition dedicated to films representing new aesthetic and expressive trends in world cinema.

This year’s line-up of the Venice film festival was unveiled by artistic director Alberto Barbera and Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia on Monday (26).

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