Documentaries from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal will compete for the €10,000 ($11,866) docs-in-progress grand prize and other awards at the 2021 edition of Cannes Docs.
From Afghanistan, prolific short filmmaker Hezbullah Sultani’s feature documentary debut “Birds Street” explores Kabul’s showcase for avian life, a corner of the city tucked away behind a mosque untouched by war or modernization. The film is produced and co-edited by Sahraa Karimi, whose feature directorial debut “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” bowed at Venice in 2019, played at Busan and was Afghanistan’s entry for the Oscars.
“Munni,” from Bangladesh, follows the life of a child bride who went on to become an inspirational soccer coach and protector at an all-girl sports academy. It is directed by Tahrima Khan Tonni, whose “Color of Water” (2010) was funded by the British Council, and she was awarded as an International Climate Champion. It is produced by Abu Shahed Emon, whose feature directorial debut “Jalal’s Story” was Bangladesh’s entry to the 2016 Oscars and his production “Sincerely Yours, Dhaka” was the country’s submission to the 2019 Oscars.
Debutant Partha Das’ “Thirteen Destinations of a Traveller” explores two parallel journeys. One sees thousands of Sufi pilgrims march together over days and miles to proclaim unrequited love for humanity, and in the other a disabled, marginal Muslim man in India tries to transform his life fighting against physical, economic and social challenges in search of love, compassion and happiness. The project’s Bangladeshi producer Mokhalesur Rahman Talukdar has recently completed a feature “People of the Garden” and its Indian producer Soumya Mukhopadhyay’s “Glossary of Nonhuman Love” premiered at Rotterdam this year.
Journalist and filmmaker Subina Shrestha’s “Devi,” a Nepal-U.K.-U.S. co-production, follows a former guerilla fighter who survived war time rape and decides to fight for justice. Producer Rosie Garthwaite’s Emmy nominated “The Workers Cup” premiered at Sundance in 2017.
The South Asian showcase at Cannes Docs is organized by the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh. Other showcases this year are from Canada, Italy, Chile, Palestine, ParisDOC and Showcase Circle.
Cannes Docs takes place as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Marche du Film. The awards will be announced on July 13, the market’s Doc Day. The event is designed for producers with films in advanced stages of production who are looking for a festival premiere or a sales agent, or for sellers and programmers looking for the latest undiscovered documentaries.