BH CORRESPONDENT, Mumbai: Self-taught filmmaker Ajitpal Singh’s debut feature as a writer-director, Fire In The Mountains, will have its World Premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival 2021 in the ‘World Cinema Dramatic Competition.’
Produced by Jar Pictures, Fire in the Mountains is the only Indian film selected among 10 films in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, the section which presents the emerging filmmaking talents around the world who offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will be held from January 28 to February 3. Normally held in Park City, Utah, the festival has opted for virtual edition this year due to Covid-19, combined with the drive-in and socially distanced screenings around the country.
The 82-minute intense family drama, Fire In The Mountains is about a mother who toils to save money to build a road in a remote Himalayan village to take her wheelchair-bound son for physiotherapy but her husband believes that a shamanic ritual (Jagar) is the remedy.
The film stars Vinamrata Rai in the central role of the mother along with Chandan Bisht and Sonal Jha, introducing first-time young actors from Uttarakhand, Harshita Tewari and Mayank Singh Jaira. The Jar Pictures production, Fire In The Mountains is produced by Ajay Rai and Alan McAlex and co-produced by Amit Mehta and Mauli Singh.
Ajitpal Singh whose short film Rammat-Gammat won ‘Special Mention’ at the International Short Film Festival of Oberhausen 2018, is excited about Sundance’s premiere of his debut feature.
The self-taught filmmaker and the writer-director of the film, says, “It’s been a difficult year for all of us and I am so glad that it’s ending on a positive note with hopes of vaccine for everyone and on a personal note, I am super thrilled that my first feature, Fire In The Mountains is making its World Premiere at the prestigious Sundance in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Sundance has been a dream since 2012 when my first script was selected for Sundance Mumbai Mantra Script lab and I experienced their love and warmth for independent artists. This dream would have remained a dream if my producer Ajay Rai had not shown faith in me.”
Talking about the inspiration behind the film, Ajitpal says, “The idea of Fire In The Mountains came from a personal tragedy when my cousin sister Amarjeet Kaur died because her husband didn’t take her to the hospital thinking she was possessed by a ghost. The film is about the clash of two worldviews- traditional and modern, with a strong woman at the heart of it and I hope my film will make people ask some relevant questions about their blind faiths.”
The producer and co-founder of Jar Pictures which has produced award-winning films such as Berlinale winner Killa and Oscar entry from Indian, Liar’s Dice and also commercial hits like Gangs Of Wasseypur 1 and 2, Nil Battey Sannata and Qarib Qarib Single, Ajay Rai, says, “We are thrilled to start our film journey at the prestigious Sundance and being the only Indian film in World Cinema Dramatic Competition. This is our second film after Liar’s Dice to be selected at Sundance, after a gap of seven years, and it feels truly special.”
The Jar Pictures producer Alan McAlex who also did individual projects Dangal and Amazon series Made in Heaven as an executive producer and was co-producer on A Suitable Boy, says, “We are delighted to end this difficult year on an exciting note with our Sundance premiere. It’s a great joy to be the only Indian movie among 10 films from across the world in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the prestigious international film festival.”
Having promoted indie gems, Mauli Singh produced her award-winning first short film Rammat-Gammat with Drishyam Films. Excited about the Sundance Premiere of her debut feature, the film publicist turned producer says, “Over the past seven years as a publicist, I have passionately promoted some of the best independent films premiering at the top film festivals, all the while harbouring a dream of producing films which will connect with the audiences across the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better start than Sundance for my debut feature as a producer. Fire In The Mountains is our labour of love and I am excited to see how the world audience will connect with it.”
On her collaboration with Jar Pictures, Mauli says, “I worked with Ajay and Alan as their publicist on wonderful indies Killa, Liar’s Dice and Gurgaon and it’s a joy to collaborate with them as a co-producer on my first feature and learn from the best in the business.”
Artists from several countries have collaborated on the film which includes the veteran French DOP Dominique Colin (who collaborated with many auteur filmmakers including Gaspar Noë and Cédric Klapisch) who shot the film, Simon Price from New Zealand edited the film along with Parikshhit Jha, and the music is composed by Arnaud van Vliet of South Africa. The Indian crew includes the production designer Mausam Aggarwal, sound recordist Kanishk Bhoklay, sound designer Mohandas VP, costume designer Karishma Vyas, and casting director Taran Bajaj. Additional dialogues are written by Uttarakhand based actor-writer Sudarshan Juyal.