INTERVIEW: Dorothee Wenner
Dec 07,2011 - 11:42 PM
Consultant – Celebration of Indian Cinema
Selecting films from the prolific Indian film industry must be a daunting experience…
Dorothee Wenner: This year I carried back eight kilos of DVDs of Indian films back to Germany – just to give you an idea of the number of submissions. Let’s just say I raised quite a bit of suspicion at the airport!
Did the content vary or did you find recurring, repetitive themes?
DW: Audiences in India are diverse. Firstly there’s the rural-urban divide, then the Southern-Northern variation, so content definitely varied in those eight kilos! I did find it interesting that Tamil cinema in particular was touching upon the theme of superstition and god-men quite a bit.
Encouraging them or debunking?
DW: Debunking. It’s probably a reflection of younger filmmakers coming out questioning age-old traditions and the influence of superstition in people’s lives.
As a German, who’s obviously accustomed to a certain discipline in operation, how do you deal with the several quirks within the Indian film industry – considering each one has its own way of functioning?
DW: I love it. I find it very refreshing to work in India. There are some ironies. For example, at home I find it depressing to go into a cinema and find my group the only ones in the audience. In Tamil Nadu I meet producers who complain they have to add 2 am screenings to accommodate the demand from audiences.
So no maddening moments?
DW: What bothers me is that sometimes films are made in a rush. It’s not that there’s an absence of talent, but the industry moves at such a rapid pace forcing a quick turnaround. Also, I really wish more films were made in sync-sound. I refuse to buy the excuse that India is a noisy place and can’t work with it.
Your observations on new trends within the industry at large?
DW: More films that are taking women seriously. If you look at tonight’s gala, ‘Ladies V/S Ricky Bahl’ it’s about one man and a group of women, where the women have a key role. It’s not a feminist film, but a film in which women have a key role to play.
Also, Bengal has had a wonderful year. Some great films – modern themes, treated in the delicate way Bengali cinema is so famous for. We see some of these in our programme. [‘Laptop’, ‘The Sound of Old Rooms’ and ‘7th August’]