U.S. Pix Highlight India Fest

The second half of India’s 10-day film festival (Jan. 10-20) picked up momentum after a faltering start, thanks mainly to a crop of winners from other festivals, such as “Pulp Fiction,” France’s “D’Artagnan ‘s Daughter,” Cuba’s “Strawberry and Chocolate,” Australia’s “Muriel’s Wedding,” Robert Benton’s “Nobody’s Fool” and the much-anticipated closing day film “Schindler’s List.”

The only two star delegates at the fest also graced the second half – French director Bertrand Tavernier and actor Ben Kingsley. The gala closing event, the screening of James Ivory’s “The Remains of the Day,” was meant to be a star-studded affair led by showman/producer Ismail Merchant, but he disappointed by not being able to attend.

The highlight of the festival was a tribute to Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski, with all three of the “Three Colors” films playing to standing-room-only auds.

The Kieslowski package was sort of a coup, organized by an Indian film producer, Baba Varma, who works in Los Angeles. Varma had persuaded Miramax to enter the films with him as their representative at the fest. Distribution offers are now pouring in.

In addition, Varma has brought three independent American films to the festival: Rory Kelly’s well-liked “Sleep With Me,” Christopher Coppola’s “Deadfall” and Paul Werner’s first feature “Fall-time.” The last is another coup, as it marks the film’s world premiere with the permission of the Sundance Film Festival, where it is scheduled to compete.

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