The 72nd Cannes Film Festival kicks off on Tuesday with India missing from the official selection for the first time this decade. The last time the world's largest movie-producing nation drew a blank in Cannes was in 2009.
The 2019 edition of the 12-day festival (May 14 to 25) will open with the screening of Jim Jarmusch's zombie satire "The Dead Don't Die", one of 21 titles competing for the Palme d'Or. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Deepika Padukone and Huma Qureshi will, as always, walk the red carpet but India will have nothing to show for its massive yearly output of films in any of the main sections of the festival this year.
However, three ex-students of Kolkata's Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), who are just starting out in their careers, will ensure peripheral but genuine presence for the country in the globe's biggest cinema carnival.
Since 2010, the year Vikramaditya Motwane's Udaan made it to Un Certain Regard, India has had a film every single year in Cannes' official selection.
"Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told" (Out of Competition, 2011), "Miss Lovely" (Un Certain Regard, 2012), "Monsoon Shootout" (Out of Competition, 2013), "Bombay Talkies" (Special Screenings, 2013), "Titli" (Un Certain Regard, 2014), "Masaan" and "Chauthi Koot" (both Un Certain Regard, 2015), "Gudh" (Cinefondation, 2016) and "The Cinema Travellers" (Cannes Classics, 2016), "Afternoon Clouds" (Cinefondation, 2017) and "Manto" (Un Certain Regard, 2018) made the Cannescut after "Udaan" had ended a six-year drought.
In 2017, Cannes did not select any feature-length Indian film, but Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) alumna Payal Kapadia's short film "Afternoon Clouds" made it to the festival's Cinefondation competition for film schools.
Meghalaya's Dominic Sangma, Darjeeling lad Saurav Rai (maker of the 2016 Cannes entry "Gudh") and cinematographer Modhura Palit will be in the festival this year to participate in three different official segments. Sangma, whose debut film, the Garo-language "Ma'Ama" (Moan), premiered in the Mumbai Film Festival last year, will explore co-production tie-ups for his sophomore effort, "Rapture". The under-production film is one of ten projects in La Fabrique des Cinema du Monde, a programme hosted by Institut Francais.
It invites ten directors working on their first or second features to the festival along with their producers. Sangma will participate along with Chinese co-producer Jianshang Xu, who was also involved in the making of "Ma'Ama". The up-and-coming filmmaker will receive guidance from Mira Nair, the first Indian to win the Camera d'Or in Cannes (for 'Salaam Bombay', 1988). She has been named the patron of La Fabrique 2019. Saurav Rai will pitch his debut work-in-progress narrative feature, "Nimtoh" (Invitation), in the 'HAF (Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum) Goes to Cannes' programme in the festival's Marche du Film (Film Market).
"Nimtoh" is among five projects selected by the HAF Work-in-Progress Lab in March to participate in a pitching session in Cannes. The film's co-producer Sanjay Gulati will be in attendance. Kolkata cinematographer Modhura Palit will travel to Cannes to be part of the 7th edition of the Angenieux Excel Lens in Cinematography ceremony. She will receive the Angenieux Special Encouragement, which is given to a young professional. The first winner of the Special Encouragement, introduced in 2018, was the young Chinese DOP Cecile Zhang. The recognition will entitle Palit to the use on loan of the best Angenieux lenses on her next project.
Named after the founder of the 80-year-old French company that makes high-end zoom lenses, this year's Angenieux tribute will be received by the five-time Oscar-nominated French director of photography Bruno Delbonnel.