Indian actor-director Shekhar Kapur will chair the jury of the first International Film Festival and Awards at Macau -- which like Hong Kong is one of China’s autonomous territories. The festival will run from December 8 to 13.
Kapur, who shot to international fame with his 1994 directorial feature, Bandit Queen (staring Seema Biswas as Phoolan Devi, and which was part of the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight), will head a team of movie professionals to judge about a dozen, new films in competition. Kapur has served on several juries, including those at Cannes and Tokyo, and has been a sponsor of the International Film Festival of India at Panaji in Goa.
Kapur said in a media statement: “This is Asia’s time. Over the past few years, consumerism has catapulted the Asian market into international renown, but what we are now experiencing is the renaissance of culture as inspired by the Asian communities. As an Indian director, I’m excited to be chairing the Macau Film Festival as Indian storytelling has so much in common with Chinese forms of storytelling. Hopefully these new forms of storytelling will bring the world to a better understanding of itself.”
Kapur has been a great narrator himself. He made his foray into helming with his Hindi language cult classic, Masoom (1983), which garnered the Filmfare Critics’ Award for Best Movie. A poignant tale of an illegitimate boy who struggles to be accepted by his stepmother (Shabana Azmi), Masoom, with also Naseeruddin Shah, remains one of Bollywood’s most sought after works.
Kapur’s 1987 science-fiction film, Mr India, with Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Amrish Puri was declared one of the 100 greatest Indian movies of all time. Puri as villain Mogambo was unforgettable, and his line, “Mogambo Kush Hua” enjoys the pride of place with words from films like Sholay or Mughal-e-Azam or Gone with the Wind or Von Ryan’s Express or Casablanca.
Kapur introduced actor Cate Blanchett to the world in his two historical biopics of Queen Elizabeth (1998, 2007). Between them, they clinched nine Academy nominations, including one for Best Movie, and won two.
His 2002 The Four Feathers got into a controversy when the movie was accused by British tabloids of being “anti British army and monarchy”. But Kapur defended himself by saying that he was only against colonisation. Not the monarchy or the army.
In 2010, he made a grand announcement at Cannes that he was all set to make an ambitious film, Paani, on water wars. “The future wars,” he said, “will be over water”. He could not have been bang on. Are we not seeing water wars in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka now?
Sadly, Paani is yet to begin its flow, and he told this writer some years ago at Dubai that the project was finding it difficult to secure funds. It was said to have Susant Singh Rajput as its lead.
The Macau Festival is headed by Marco Mueller, who has had an illustrious career as the chief of festival at Locarno, Rotterdam, Beijing, Rome and Venice. His stint at Venice from the 2004 to 2011 was the longest ever in the history of the festival. Mueller is acknowledged as one who literally helped Venice refloat after several turbulent years.
Mueller, who knows many languages, including Mandarin, has had a parallel career as a movie producer having churned out 14 features, some of whom won Oscars and top honours at Cannes.