Ritesh Batra’s “Our Souls at Night” will unspool out of competition at the Venice Film Festival and its stars, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, will be honored with lifetime achievement awards at the fest. “Our Souls at Night” is about two lonely older neighbors who forge a relationship in Colorado. The 38-year-old Batra’s debut film, “The Lunchbox,” premiered at Cannes’ Critics’ Week in 2013. Batra was highlighted as one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch at the Palm Springs film festival in January. His second film, “The Sense of an Ending,” starring Jim Broadbent, came out earlier this year. “Our Souls at Night” is his third film.
What does it mean for you to be at the Venice Film Festival with your film?
I am very excited about the film at the festival and I’m excited about reuniting with the cast. I’ve not been to Venice before.
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What has it been like working with Netflix?
It’s been a really great experience. They are a great supporter of the film. It’s a great platform for a movie like this. It will help the movie find its audience. They have a holistic, long-term way of looking at [the release].
What are your views about Netflix vs. theatrical distribution?
I go to the theater, Netflix is releasing day and date in theaters. Amazon and Netflix are enabling a lot of stories to be told. The theatrical experience is a very special experience that will continue. Here in India, people are going to movies more and more. I don’t think it’s an either/or thing. When VHS came, when DVDs came [we had this discussion]. There are so many choices, I understand both sides of the debate. I appreciate it.
What are you most looking forward to at the Venice festival?
I am looking forward to screening my movie with a real audience. We audience-tested it and stuff, but that’s not the same thing. I’ll be there for two days, I do hope I’ll be able to see other films. I’m a big fan of Robert and Jane. “Our Souls at Night” is a Kent Haruf novel, I am a fan of “Plainsong,” “Benediction.” It’s special to get the book and movie together.
What are you working on next?
I am working on “Photographer” in Bombay, that I wrote and I’m directing later this year. We’re not casting yet. But I’m writing with the team from “Lunchbox.” It will be in English and Hindi. I’m a voracious reader. Right now I’m reading “The Black Book.”