Once Upon A Time In Calcutta, directed by National Award-winning director Aditya Vikram Sengupta, is the only Indian film selected for the 78th edition of the Venice International Film Festival. It will compete in the Orizzonti section of the festival.
The lineup of the festival, which will be held from September 1 to September 11, was announced on Monday.
This year marks Sengupta’s return to the European festival after his debut film Labour of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe) premiered in the Venice Days section in 2014. He won the FEDEORA Award for best debut at the time.
Once Upon A Time In Calcutta is the filmmaker’s third film. In a statement about the film’s selection and world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Sengupta calls it “a culmination of personal feelings and emotions for the city of Calcutta and its people.”
Featuring actors Sreelekha Mitra, Bratya Basu, Satrajit Sarkar, Arindam Ghosh, Reetika Nondine Shimu and Anirban Chakrabarti, along with debutante Shayak Roy, the story revolves around a bereaved mother named Ela, who is desperately trying to find a new identity, love and independence, but soon realises that she is not the only scavenger in a city brimming with hunger.
The film is an international collaboration between India, France and Norway, and is produced by For Films in association with Catherine Dussart Productions (France) and DUOFilm AS (Norway). It is presented by Wishberry Films.
The film is shot by Gokhan Tiryaki, who was the cinematographer of the 2014 Cannes Palme d’Or winning Turkish film Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
The 21 feature films competing for the top award include Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand Of God, Michel Franco’s Sundown, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn’s Official Competition, Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog, and Ana Lily Amirpour’s Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon.
The event will be held in person on Lido di Venezia.
The festival will rely on a ‘Green Pass’, Europe’s proof of vaccination which displays a person’s vaccination status, as part of its Covid-19 precautionary measures. President Roberto Cicutto said during a press conference, “The number of spectators in a theatre will be limited to 4,000 seats in total. Controls will be the same as last year. It is compulsory to reserve your place in advance, online.”
The 2020 edition of the festival, which was also in-person, had thermo-scanners installed at entry points, free Covid-19 tests on site, and sanitization spots set up across the location, among other precautions.
Festival Director Alberto Barbera further noted that travel from China is banned. Residents of countries like Brazil, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are also unable to enter Italy as of now.
This year’s edition is a step backwards in terms of diversity as the main competition only features five women filmmakers, down by three from 2020, said Barbera during the press conference. However, he called this a “temporary change.”
Bong Joon Ho will preside over the competition jury that also includes Chloé Zhao, Cynthia Erivo, Virginie Efira, Sarah Gadon, Saverio Costanzo, and Alexander Nanau.