Anna Pavlova, Bhaichung Bhutia Among Subjects of India’s Inaugural Doc Film Bazaar Co-Production Market Lab Pitches

Revered Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and ace Indian soccer player Bhaichung Bhutia are among the subjects of projects selected at the inaugural edition of India’s Doc Film Bazaar.

The Bazaar has unveiled 15 projects that will participate in its Co-Production Market and the five films selected for its Work-in-Progress Lab.

More from Variety

As revealed by Variety, the market is a documentary-focused sister edition of the Film Bazaar that takes place in Goa annually in November. It will take place within the Mumbai International Film Festival for documentary, short fiction and animation (MIFF). The Indian government-run MIFF, which began in 1990, is separate from the privately managed MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.

The 15 projects that are part of the Doc Bazaar all have a South Asian focus, but originate from various countries, including India, U.K., U.S., Russia, Switzerland and Nepal. The selected filmmakers will pitch their projects to international and Indian producers, distributors, festival programmers, financiers and sales agents at the event’s open pitch sessions. The producers and filmmakers behind the projects will also get an opportunity to have one-to-one meetings with guests and delegates.

Prithul Kumar, festival director, MIFF and Doc Film Bazaar and joint secretary and MD, National Film Development Corporation, said: “One of the Doc Film Bazaar’s most significant sections, the Doc Co-Production Market, provides funding and support for carefully selected projects. We received 62 concepts in 27 languages from 10 countries for the first Doc Co-Production Market at Doc Film Bazaar. Esteemed committee members from the film industry critically examined and selected 15 projects. We wish the chosen filmmakers all the best and hope that the right co-production partners will locate the projects, enabling them to successfully finish their artistic journeys.”

The five works-in-progress are all from India. MIFF takes places June 15-21, while the Doc Film Bazaar unspools June 16-18.

The selected projects for Doc Co-Production Market 2024 are:

1. “Aravan Kooth – Performance of Life” | India | English. Producer: Dr. Anupama K.P. Director: Sreeraj Rajeev S. The ethnographic account aims to capture the subtleties and ritualistic depths of the Aravan festival in Tamil Nadu.

2. “Bhaichung – The Story Of India’s Football Legend” | India | Aboriginal,English, Hindi,Nepali. Producers: Anadi Athaley, Arfi Laamba. Director : Karma Takapa. An all-access documentary on the life of Bhaichung Bhutia and his meteoric rise from shy village boy to former India soccer captain.

3. “Bhalu Aa Gaye” | India | Chhattisgarhi, English, Hindi. Producer: Agastya Bhatia. Director: Naman Saraiya. In a remote temple in Central India, a family of sloth bears become revered guests of the temple priest, sparking questions about conservation and cultural beliefs.

4. “Himalaya Ki Peeth Par” | India | Garhwali, Hindi, Kumaoni. Director and Producer: Arun Fulara. A band of activists trek more than 1,000 kms through the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, meeting the same villagers they met during their previous five treks, mapping the socio-cultural environmental changes that continue to impact this fragile region.

5. “Kalari” | India, Switzerland | Malayalam. Producer: Esther Van Messel. Director: Satindar Singh Bedi, Maria Kaur Bedi. In a male-dominated Indian society, a young women’s passion for Kalari, one of the oldest martial arts in the world, becomes the starting point for a journey of self-discovery and self-assertion.

6. “Lam Houdong” (animation) | India | Manipuri. Producer: Kongbrailatpam Yasobanta Sharma. Director: Trishul Yumnam. In a bustling city, a loyal cat embarks on a perilous journey to reunite with his best friend amidst family turmoil and learns lessons of resilience and hope.

7. “Legend of Abbakka” | India | English, Kannada. Producer: Satavesha Bose. Director: Cyrus Khambata.
A feature-length documentary about the unsung hero, Rani Abbakka of Ullal, who defended her tiny kingdom against Portugal in the 16th century.

8. “Lhasa Ma Soon Chha” | India, Nepal | English, Nepali, Tibetan. Producers: Surbhi Dewan, Jasmine Lovely George. Director: Surbhi Dewan. This film uncovers the forgotten lives, loves and labor of Nepalese women who thrived along the historic trans-Himalayan trade route, the Silk Road.

9. “Music From the Roof of the World” | India, U.K., U.S. | English, Hindi, Nepali, Tibetan. Director and Producer: Prachi Hota. For Gen-Z Tibetans living in India, the mountains of Tibet are a memory preserved in family stories. This documentary is a chronicle of how they use rap and hip-hop as a witness statement for their generational memories.

10. “Romancing the Dance” | India,Russia | English, Russian. Producer: Anastasiia Voskresenskaia. Director: Sergei Debizhev. The true story of Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina, the most-celebrated dancer of her time and Uday Shankar, India’s cult figure in the world of dance.

11. “The Valley of Health” | India | English, Rajasthani, Tamil. Director and Producer: Sankara Narayanan Krishnan. The journey of a people-led revolution in community health, that unfolded over 20 years in an inaccessible, tribal village nestled within a forested valley in Tamil Nadu.

12. “Through a Broken Glass” | India | English. Director and Producer: Madhu Mahankali. The film revolves around Dr. Chandra, who lost all his family members in a terrorist incident, the aftermath of the tragedy and explores how one can deal with life-changing catastrophes.

13. “Trapped” | India | English, Hindi. Producer: Arya Menon. Director: Ajitesh Sharma. 41 laborers were trapped inside a tunnel for 17 days. The unlikeliest of heroes rescued them after all else failed.

14. “Umbrellas of the Acrobats” | India, U.S. | Tamil. Producer: Saunak Sur. Director: Mukesh Subramaniam.
Vijay, a nine-year-old circus misfit, copes with loss on a journey to reclaim his beloved pony, finding courage amid enchanting acrobats and weaving tales to discover his rightful place.

15. “Whispers of the Desert Wind” | India | Hindi. Producer: Kavita Bahl. Director: Nandan Saxena. In the driest part of India, when an expensive canal broke their centuries-old rainwater management system – the aboriginal camel and goat-herders try to revive the system – led by a farmer with the mind of an engineer.

Work-in-Progress Lab Films:

1. “Air Risers” | India | English. Director: Bidit Roy.

2. “Hearsay” | India | Bengali, English. Directors: Sraman Chatterjee, Meghla Dasgupta.

3. “I’m Not Home” | India | Bhojpuri, English. Director: Naveen Pun.

4. “Evening’s Empty Courtyards” | India | Sylheti | Director: Anunay Barbhuiya.

5. “Where is My Home” | India | Marathi. Directors: Digvijay Thorat, Ashwini Dharmale.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.