After receiving wow reviews all over the world for his English-language film Before The Rains, cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan headed with his Hindi anti-terrorism film Tahaan to the Pusan Film Festival late last month. Strangely enough, he was in a jury at a festival where his film was also represented, though in a different sections altogether.
What made Pusan extraordinarily special was his bonding with the legendary Danish actress, Anna Karina, who was the mythic French director Jean-Luc Godard's muse, wife and primary actress in a series of classics in the 1960s. Karina who has worked with the crème de la crème of world cinema headed the jury of the Pusan Film Festival this year. Santosh Sivan and Karina hit it off from the word go.
"I couldn't believe how easygoing this legendary woman whom I grew up watching was. She's quite a humorous person and full of life, and she was amused that I would pronounce her name as 'Karena'. She had so many stories to share of her days and experiences with Godard, and other leading French directors. She told me Godard is stingy with words and named his dog 'Come Here.' since he didn't want to add come here to the dog's name!"
Enthuses Santosh, "It was quite interesting to see so many films from so many Asian countries, the stress being on originality. Finally, the film Naked Defences from Japan won along with Land Of Scare-crows from South Korea. There was also an interesting film from India Ocean Of An Old Man with Tom Alter in the lead in the competition again. Tahaan was also in the Asian section and got invited to Sundance film festival. It was also interesting and encouraging to see how the festival authorities ensure harmony between producers, sales agents and buyers, to ensure sales and exploit sales opportunities for independent films featuring in the festival."
About the other distinguished jury members at Pusan, Santosh says, "Besides Anna Karina, I got to meet the German filmmaker Karl Baumagrtner who is an accomplished producer, and Lee Hwa-si is one of the most respected actors in Korea. The distinguished Iranian director Samara Makhabalf unfortunately fell ill. Other wise it was quite an enjoyable experience. I hope to travel to almost 16 other festivals with Tahaan."