FILM BAZAAR: Kanwal Sethi’s drama Once Again and creative documentary Buddhagram won the inaugural Facebook Awards at the close of this year’s Film Bazaar (November 20-24).

Once Again, which screened in Film Bazaar’s Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab, stars Neeraj Kabi and Shefali Shah in the story of a romance between a widow and an ageing star.

Kabir Mehta’s Buddhagram, which was selected for the Film Bazaar Recommends section, is a mixed media verite style of documentary about flamboyant Goan cricketer Buddhadev Mangaldas. The two Facebook awards came with $10,000 of vouchers for Facebook advertising.

India’s Prasad Labs also gave out two awards, which cover the costs of each project for digital intermediate. Ridham Janve’s The Gold-Laden Sheep And The Sacred Mountain, which was filmed in the rare Pahari language, won the Prasad award for a WIP Lab project, while Sanalkumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga won the Prasad award in Film Bazaar Recommends.

Sexy Durga, a fantasy horror in the Malayalam language, was also picking up interest from sales agents as Film Bazaar came to a close. 

Marco Mueller, one of the WIP Lab jurors, paid tribute to NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta, who couldn’t attend this year’s Film Bazaar due to illness: “The first thing that I want to say on behalf of the jury is, dear Nina Lath Gupta, please be well soon because your vision has been enhanced once again in this wonderful mission of Film Bazaar.”

Meanwhile, closing sessions at Film Bazaar’s Knowledge Series programme, just prior to the awards ceremony, included a presentation from VR producer Michel Reilhac and a master class with Hong Kong producer Philip Lee, co-founder of Facing East Entertainment.

Reilhac concurred with the two other major speakers in Film Bazaar’s VR Sidebar – Mirjam Vosmeer of Amsterdam Creative Industries Network and WeMakeVR’s Avinash Changa – that creating virtual reality is closer to stagecraft than traditional filmmaking.

“You can equate it more to theatre than cinema in that you emerge in the heart of a space and can decide which direction you’re looking,” Reilhac said. “That means you’re losing the grammar of cinema – close-ups for instance. You can have characters come closer to the camera, but that’s not the same as moving the camera itself.” 

Meanwhile, Lee talked about his experiences working on films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Cloud Atlas and The Revenant. Working on US movies in the early part of his career, he said he was disturbed by the way Asian characters were stereotyped. Moving back to Asia, he was attracted by projects such as the Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas that incorporate elements of Asian culture.

Cloud Atlas is about reincarnation and I just fell in love with it when I read the script – this is the kind of story I still want to do in different cultures,” Lee said. “Perhaps there is something about Indian culture that is new for the rest of the world or something that not everybody understands.”