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Indian docu makers ESP Films win international pitch at MIPDOC

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CANNES: The Indian documentary duo of 'Harry' Amarpal Singh Bal and Rishi Rana Bharadwaj has won a fiercely contested pitch at the MIPDOC co-production challenge held at Cannes on Sunday evening.

'Highway in my veins', a documentary proposal about truckers in India, was selected as the best among the five shortlisted producers who pitched their ideas to a prestigious international panel of broadcasters at the Noga Hilton, the MIPDOC venue, yesterday. With a cutting edge presentation comprising a promo shot on beta and followed with an exceptional power point presentation made by Bharadwaj, a known name in the voice over circuit in India, the duo swept the decision of the jury and the audience in their favour.

ESP (Entertainment Solutions Providers) Films, the production house floated by Harry and Rishi, have already been approached by Channel Four and Discovery for completing the documentary, shooting for which, is slated to be completed over 60 days between June and December this year. The house has already put in $ 23,000 into the venture and is now looking for an additional $ 125,000 to complete the docu.

ESP Films boasts a team with extensive experience in various genres of international and Indian television programming. Harry, who comes with experience as an editor at Miditech, says the idea for 'Highway in my veins' has been in the research stage for nearly one and a half years. The proposed documentary traces the life of the truckers as they criss cross the country's highways, the humiliations they suffer and their long absences from home. It talks about how their day often ends with release in the form of often unprotected sex. The film plans to trace the life of three truckers from the eastern Uttar Pradesh and Punjab belt, one of whom has tested HIV positive.

Incidentally, this is the duo's first time at MipTV, and the first time that they participated in an international pitch. Says Indiantelevision Dot Com Pvt Ltd CEO Anil Wanvari, who is the Reed Midem representative in India, "Indian companies are beginning to make a mark at MipTV. This year, we have had an unprecedented presence at the market in Cannes. The fact that ESP Films won the documentary pitch is going to be a further shot in the arm for the Indian TV and documentary producers who want to make a mark internationally."

Harry says the effort in preparing for 'Highway in my veins' has been on shortening the research period by relying less on indirect methods of Internet and archival research, and instead going directly into the field for getting hands on information and interacting with the truckers. ESP Films, which makes TVCs, promo films and corporate films, is also toying with several other documentary proposals at the ongoing MipTV market. These include 'Bhikshuni', which traces the life of Buddhist nuns, a film on the unknown facets of sandalwood smuggler 'Veerappan', and 'Floating Lamp on the Shadow Valley', a film on life in strife torn Kashmir.

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