Kanade bags first IFFLA Film Fund Development Grant

MUMBAI:Pune-based filmmaker Kranti Kanade, whose award-winning film ‘Mahek’ has been recommended for school children in Ohio and Toronto, is the recipient of the first Film Fund Development Grant of $10,000 announced by the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

The grant has been awarded in addition to Final Draft and Sony Creative software for his script ‘Against Itself’. This work will be showcased at a stage-reading during the Eighth annual IFFLA taking place from 20 to 25 April at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles.

The script centers on a secular expatriate American schoolmaster in India who struggles against a tide of anti-Christian sentiment that threatens his students, his school and his life. “I am absolutely overcome with happiness by this beautiful news,” said Kanade. “I am truly grateful to IFFLA for giving me this award and this amazing opportunity.”

The development grant jury included acclaimed screenwriters Gill Dennis (‘Walk the Line’, ‘The Tatooed Soldier’), Anurag Kashyap (Dev D, Black Friday) and Sooni Taraporevala (The Namesake, Little Zizou).

Dennis said “This script is haunting, gripping, and gritty. Stunningly done, beautifully good, it dissects the great mess of our humanity with equal measures of humor and horror, while capturing the hectic multiplicity of India.”

IFFLA had shortlisted ten finalists to vie for the first Grant. Apart from Kanade, the other finalists were ‘Aravan’ by Raghu Jeganathan; ’Engineers of Rock’ by Sushrut Jain and John Thompson; ‘Love in the time of Genocide’ by Thenmozhi Soundararajan; ‘Scandalous!’ written by Claire Ince; ’Sebastian wants to remember’ by Vasant Nath; ‘The story of Ram’ by Ritesh Batra; ’Sweet Dreams’ by Avani Batra; an untitled desert war film by Richie Mehta; and ‘Untouchable Glory’ by Mo Ramchandani.

Kanade’s last film ‘Mahek’, made for the Children’s Film Society, India, has been suggested as a necessary tool for school children in Canadian schools, though it appears to have gone unrecognized within the country. The film in Hindi and English was made in 2007 and won awards in the United States and elsewhere.

In a project written by Ernest Agbuya on the initiative of the Teacher Advisory Committee of the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children, this film has been recommended to be shown to children from grades four to six. In the words of an educationist: “This is a wonderful film that celebrates the power of dreams and imagination as key forces for change, creativity, leadership, invention and guilt-free leisure.”

Reacting to the news, CFSI Chief Executive Officer Sushovan Banerjee told "It is a matter of great pride and honour for CFSI that our film "Mahek" has founds its way into the school curriculum in Canada as well. Earlier it was introduced as part of the syllabus in Ohio University . Mahek is a film that is simple to understand, rich in content and beautifully portrays the power of dreams in our quest for excellence. Through the charming character of Mahek, the director has brought out the importance of imagination and how we all need to discover our inherent talents in order to achieve success. I only hope that after its success in US and Canada, Mahek will surely find its pride of place in Indian school curriculum as well."

According to Agbuya, a key element in the plot is an essay competition in Mahek’s class. The full Writing strand of the Language Curriculum is relevant to the ideas presented in this Teacher Resource. There are science connections through references to Isaac Newton and James Watt, two scientists who made key contributions to the studies of energy and forces. Links can also be made to the Grade 3 study of Growth and Changes in Plants. One of the film’s key themes is perseverance, June’s trait for Character Education.

The film is about young Mahek who seems to be a failure in everything, until a woman claiming to be her fairy godmother tells the young girl to “Look within yourself and you’ll find your strengths.” A writing contest at school seems like the chance for Mahek to use her powerful imagination. The film celebrates the importance of imagination, self-confidence and perseverance, and reminds us that everybody is great at something.

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