The film is shot by Palme d’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s cinematographer, Gokhan Tiryaki
Inspired by true events, Aditya’s third film is a homage to Calcutta
Aditya’s debut film, Labour of Love won the FEDEORA award at Venice Days 2014 and second film, Jonaki premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 ~
Mumbai, July 26 2021: National award-winning filmmaker, Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s third feature in Bengali language, Once Upon A Time In Calcutta will have its World Premiere in the 78th Venice International Film Festival to be held from September 1 – 11, 2021. It’s the only Indian film in this year’s festival edition and is competing in Orizzonti (Horizons), an international competition section dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema.
Once Upon A Time In Calcutta marks Aditya’s return to Venice International Film Festival after his debut film, Labour of Love, which premiered in Venice Days section, along with films by veterans such as Kim Ki-duk and Laurent Cantet where he won the FEDEORA award for Best Debut. His second film, the art house favourite, Jonaki premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018.
Inspired by true events, Aditya pays homage to Calcutta in his third narrative feature, which follows the life of a bereaved mother trying to desperately find a new identity, love and independence, but soon realizes that she is not the only scavenger in a city brimming with hunger.
Along with screen veterans such as Sreelekha Mitra and Bratya Basu, the film features an ensemble cast selected over two years – Satrajit Sarkar, Arindam Ghosh, Reetika Nondine Shimu and Anirban Chakrabarti along with young debutant Shayak Roy. A cast of non-professional actors, including Aditya’s own father, Tridib Sengupta, have also featured in significant roles.
The film is shot by Palme d’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s cinematographer, Gokhan Tiryaki and music is composed by Dutch composer, Minco Eggersman.
Thrilled about returning to Venice Film Festival, the writer-director-editor Aditya Vikram Sengupta says, “Venice is a dream festival for any filmmaker and we are extremely grateful and excited to be back with a Bengali film about the city, especially on the 100 birth centenary of Satyajit Ray”.
Presented by Wishberry Films and produced by For Films in association with Catherine Dussart Productions (France) and DUOFilm AS (Norway), the film is supported by Cannes L’Atleier, NFDC Film Bazaar, Sorfond and CNC cinema du monde.
After the loss of her daughter, Ela not only loses her identity as a mother, but also the only reason to be with her husband. When she is refused a home loan by the bank, her boss, owner of a massive Ponzi scheme, makes her an offer she struggles to accept. Ela reconnects with her stepbrother to reclaim her half of an old family theatre, but he refuses, blaming Ela for his own dark fate. In between all this, Ela’s childhood sweetheart resurfaces and gives her the warmth and hope for a new beginning. Just as Ela starts living the life she had dreamed for herself, she realises that she isn’t the only scavenger in the city brimming with hunger.
This film is a culmination of personal feelings and emotions for the city of Calcutta and its people, especially as it tries to catch up to the rapidly changing world. Leveraging real characters and actual events, the film is my effort to chip away the various layers of the previously communist city to reveal a human condition that is tragic and yet full of hope and joy. The film highlights the aspirations and struggles of people gasping for breath in an ever-expanding metropolis. For the viewer, I have tried to create a real glimpse into the murky waters of Calcutta, with colourful characters, all trying very hard to find a corner of their own without drowning.
About the Director
Aditya Vikram Sengupta (6 September 1983, India) is an Indian filmmaker, artist and musician. His first film, the wordless Asha Jaoar Majhe or Labour of Love, released in 2014 premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in the Venice Days section where it won the FEDEORA Award for Best Director of a Debut Film. His second film Jonaki, an art-house favourite, premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. Once Upon A Time In Calcutta, an homage to the city he calls home is an international collaboration between India-France-Norway. He is currently developing his fourth film.
Once Upon A Time In Calcutta | India, France, Norway | 2021
Jonaki | India, Singapore, France | 2018
Asha Jaoar Majhe (aka., Labour of Love) | India | 2014
For Films, India
Established in 2013, For Films was established in Kolkata, India, with a view to creating quality cinema for a globally discerning audience. As the name suggests, the company’s raison d’être is everything that is film related and is a binding passion for each member of the team.
Their first film was the award winning Labour Of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe) directed by founder and in-house director Aditya Vikram Sengupta. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2014 and won the FEDEORA award for Best Debut Film. Labour Of Love has featured at several leading festivals and won twelve awards internationally. The film also won two National Film Awards in 2015 including the prestigious Golden Lotus for Best Debut Film. Labour of Love is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The second film by For Films was Jonaki, also directed by Aditya, an Indo-French-Singaporean co-production that had its World Premiere at IFF Rotterdam 2018 before it won the Silver Gateway Award and the Best Film For Gender Equality award at MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, 2018. Jonaki was our first collaboration with acclaimed French producer, Catherine Dussart and Samir Sarkar’s Magic Hour Films. Catherine has since then become our constant collaborator and been vocal about the issues we talk about. Jonaki is now available for streaming on Netflix.
Their most recent film, Once Upon A Time In Calcutta is premiering at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in the Orizzonti Section. It marked our second collaboration with Catherine and our first with Ingrid Lill Hogtun of DUOfilm AS and Barentsfilm AS, and celebrated Turkish cinematographer Gokhan Tiryaki of Wild Pear Tree and Winter Sleep fame.
We are currently developing Birthmark, a film about a very relevant and timely issue about growing Hindu nationalism and violence against the minorities of the countries. Our past collaborators, producers Catherine and Ingrid are already on board for the project.
Profile of Production Companies
CATHERINE DUSSART (France) established Les Productions Dussart in 1992 and CDP (Catherine Dussart Productions) in 1994. She has produced almost 100 films in more than 15 countries. Her last productions include Laila in Haifa by Amos Gitai (Official Competition Venice 2020), Irradiated by Rithy Panh (Best Documentary Berlinale 2020), Graves without a name by Rithy Panh (Venice, Telluride, Toronto film festivals 2018), A Tramway in Jerusalem by Amos Gitai (Venice 2018), Jonaki by Aditya Vikram Sengupta (Rotterdam 2018) Vangelo by Pippo Delbono (Venice 2016). The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh which received Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and was later nominated for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category; other credits include In this land lay graves of mine by Lebanese director Reine Mitri (DIFF Dubai); 9 doigts by F. J. Ossang, (Best director award at Locarno Film Festival 2017); France is our Mother Country by Rithy Panh (Fipa 2015) ; Chauti Koot by Indian director Gurvinder Singh (Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival 2015), Kalo Pothi by Nepalese director Min Bahadur Bham (Nepal) (Critics Prize, Venice Film Festival 2015); Exil by Rithy Panh (Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival 2016); Evangile by Pippo Delbono (Official Selection, Venice Film Festival 2016).
Catherine Dussart is a consultant at Qumra. She was a member of the board of l’Académie Franco-Russe du Cinéma”, a member of “Commission d’aide aux Cinémas du Monde du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères”, member and vice-president of “Commission de l’Avance sur Recettes du Centre National de la Cinématographie”, member of “Commission d’aide à la distribution du CNC”.
DUOfilm AS is an independent production company based in Bergen, .
DUOFilm AS (Norway) Since the beginning in 2010, DUOfilm has produced several short films, industrial films and commercials as well as freelanced to external productions in film and television. DUOfilm’s goal is to develop and produce various projects with good content and high quality.
Wishberry Films (India) In 2012, Wishberry premiered the concept of crowdfunding in India for Independent filmmakers. Over 400 media projects have raised over 2 million dollars using the platform’s rewards-based crowdfunding model from over 15,000 people across the world.Wishberry is now launching Wishberry Films – a new-age, content-driven, film financing platform, that believes in balancing the equation between art and commerce. We believe that a good story and a smart budget is all that’s needed to make films a lucrative investment opportunity for HNIs. Wishberry Films l finance, produce, market & distribute films with universal and regional stories from India. And help HNIs discover and invest in such films. 6 Films produced via HNI-film financing – Mandela (Netflix), Sethum Aayiram Pon (Netflix, Amazon, Mubi and Star Vijay), Aamis (Movie Saints), Chippa (Netflix). Upcoming movies – Zollywood and Once Upon A Time In Calcutta