“White Snow,” the latest project from celebrated Indian filmmaker Praveen Morchhale, is his “artistic revolt” against political systems that repress artists.
The project has been selected for the 21st Hong Kong — Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), the project market that operates concurrently with FilMart (March 13-16).
Set in and around Kargil, a Muslim-dominated town in the Himalayas, where a war was fought between India and Pakistan in 1999, the film tells the story of Amir, whose short film gets banned due to a complaint from a religious leader, and his social media accounts gets blocked. His elderly mother Fatima sets out on an arduous journey in the Himalayan mountains to show the film in villages, which breaks her mentally and physically and brings her close to madness before she becomes a free soul.
The filmmaker’s most recent work, “Behind Veils,” premiered at Vesoul earlier this month and won a jury award. “Behind Veils” is a satire on the Indian political system and “White Snow” promises to be even more politically overt.
“If you look at India particularly, and if we look at a broader scenario in many countries, we artists are not allowed to speak the way we want to about art, culture or society. We have been restricted by many laws and government restrictions that are being created,” Morchhale tells Variety. “And with social media also being controlled it is becoming very tough for us to express our views. This film is like an artistic revolt against those boycotts by political or maybe religious systems banning artists. This film will be my personal attempt to say what I want to say, not bogged down with pressure or with future repercussions. … This is a very political film and the need of the hour to express as an artist.
“Everything is political in this world, whatever we say, wherever we express, art cannot be apolitical. Whenever we say something we take some side. Every film is political in that way, but my films are more relevant or more political in the current scenario, because they are talking about the current situation [that] is happening around us and I’m directly expressing against those ideas,” Morchhale says. “To be cowed down and not to speak is a very easy way but to take a stand and speak in an artistic way is needed. I feel it is very important to speak out.”
The film will be produced by Morchhale for Barefoot Pictures, with SunCal Productions (“Behind Veils”) as co-producer. It is budgeted at $230,000 of which $65,000 has been secured.
“I’m looking for this film to reach a maximum possible audience, so we are looking for finance and a basic idea level connection with the film programmers at HAF. And also, if possible, pre-sales,” Morchhale says.