Another feather in Geethu Mohandas's cap

Another feather in Geethu Mohandas's cap
South Indian actress Geethu Mohandas, who turned director with the critically acclaimed short film Kelkkunnundo, has notched up another feather in her cap, with her upcoming project being chosen for the Hubert BALS Fund in the Script and project development category.

"It is a very, very prestigious honour which is part of the Rotterdam International film festival in the Netherlands," she told PTI.

"...basically at every stage they would fund international directors after they send in a complete thesis report of what your film is about.. two-page synopsis, director's treatment, so on and so forth--a huge thesis."

Of the thousands of entries that come in, they chose 192 from around the world, shortlisted, then they will award the top best 11 projects, she said.

"So for the fall selection (category), I am the only one from India in the top 11," said Geethu, who captured the hearts of film buffs with her performance in the heart-wrenching 1986 Malayalam film Onnu Muthal Poojayam Vare as a bubbly four-year-old.

There have been others from India who have been shortlisted for the honour earlier, she said.

There are two sections-one probably during spring and the other fall. So they invite entries twice, said Geethu, whose Kelkkunnundo (are you listening) was premiered at the Rotterdam festival.

The short film had received the Golden Lamp Tree award in the International Competition for Short films and documentaries at the 40th International Film Festival in Goa last year.

There are different stages for receiving the Hubert BALS fund, she said.The first is the script and project development..digital production, post production and distribution fund.

The prize money will be higher in each stage.

For the initial stage, she won Euro ten thousand. This is primarily for writing the script and enabling the director to travel, do the recee and other activities.

For each stage, one has to resubmit the work and compete with the rest for the fund. One can directly go in for the distribution round but then he has to submit a rough cut of the work which again would be measured against others.

But what it boils down to is the Rotterdam tag for the project,whatever the stage,if one makes it to the top 11.

Geethu, who has done several critically-acclaimed roles, had never intended to direct but just got bored of hearing scripts from people claiming that they had a role tailormade for her,that it was an art film, a potential award winner.

The actress,who did her under-graduation in Canada was very much involved in theatre groups... writing scripts even then.

She already had the story for Kelkunnundo, with a visually impaired child as protagonist, ready and decided to go for it early last year. The short film was produced under her banner.

Asked if the film being premiered at the Rotterdam festival helped her in getting the fund, she said "Ultimately, it depends on the merit of the work you submit, how they view your report and decide to associate with it.."

The initial fund is itself a boost to her project as it will have a Rotterdam tag.

Unlike the short film, the present one is a full-length feature.

She plans to get started early next year.

The yet-to-be named film, co-produced by her, will be shot in Himachal Pradesh. It will be in Hindi and have English sub-titles, she said.

Asked if she had any acting projects, Geethu, whose performance in movies like Oridam, Akale, Rapaakal, Thakarachenda, Naalu Pennungal was widely appreciated by connoisseurs, said she was "not interested".

Cinema still is a passion for her and marriage (last year) has not made a difference.

"Why should it make a difference.It did not make any difference to my husband...I don't understand why this question is always so pertinent for an actress..'

Asked if she was happy behind the camera, she said "I am happy doing nothing also. When you are committed to a project, you have to see it comes out because so many people are associated with it.."

The Hubert BALS fund, which was started in 1988,is designed to bring "remarkable or urgent' feaure films by talented film makers from developing countries closer to fruition.

The fund is supported by the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs, some Dutch NGOs among others.

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