Indias The Spark Shines a Spotlight on Victims of Violence HAF

Acclaimed Indian filmmaker Rajesh S. Jala, winner of awards at the Montreal and Sao Paolo film festivals for 2008 documentary “Children of the Pyre,” has tackled a universally resonant subject with his latest film “The Spark” (“Chingari”).

In the film, a filmmaker on assignment follows a crematorium worker and an old woman in the ancient city of Banaras with his camera. A victim of violence, the filmmaker is burning with anger and hatred and is determined to take revenge for his past trauma. But a series of unexpected events challenges his conviction.

“The Spark” was selected at the screenwriters lab at Film Bazaar Goa and it went on to win the best project award at the co-production market. It was also selected at CineMart, Rotterdam, and received grants from BROT and Global Film Initiative.

The film has a $353,000 budget of which it has raised $278,000. The project arrives at the Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FilMart) in quest of the remainder.

“It’s been a charming and challenging journey. Raising funds to make an independent film (non-commercial) is a huge challenge in India,” Jala told Variety. “My intention to make this film is to raise the voice of the victims of violence. Humanity is shrinking in our society and violence is celebrated. This film reflects on the violent realities of contemporary times.”

“We are hoping to find partners at HAF – co-producers, sales agents, funding agencies, and festival programmers. We have shot 90% of the film and we need funds to complete the post-production. Let’s hope we find our potential partners at HAF,” said Jala.

Once the partners and resources are in place, the plan is to showcase this film to Indian and global audiences, beginning with a leading film festival, and then onwards to theatrical release and streaming platforms.

Next up for Jala is a film set in the troubled paradise that is Kashmir. “I am writing a film on Kashmir. Kashmir is very close to my heart,” said Jala. “I belong to a minority community, Kashmiri Pandits, who were uprooted from the valley in 1990. I lived in a refugee camp for 10 years, in Delhi.”

“I have lots of stories to share through films,” Jala adds.

“The Spark” is produced by Jala and Prayas Deepti for The Elements and Inquilab Studios.

“Children of the Pyre” was picked up for distribution by Fortissimo Films.

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