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
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
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
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.