The West Midlands may seem a million miles from Hollywood, but filmmaking talent is strong in the region and as more and more young filmmakers embark on what they hope will become a career, the need for support and advice is as vital as ever. But is there enough in the region? And is it meeting and fulfilling the needs of a growing community of filmmaking talent?
The experiences of Oscar Torres, the writer of Innocent Voices, offer a salutary lesson about how even an obscene situation can appear normal to people denied a glimpse of a different reality. Torres based the film on his childhood during the civil war in El Salvador. Then, it was normal to have to cower underneath a bed as bullets burst through his house during fire fights between FMLN guerrillas and government soldiers; normal to see bodies in the street; normal to have to rush home in time for curfew; normal for boys to be rounded up for military service when they turned 12.
Three decades ago, at the age of 12, Priyanandanan walked 12 kilometres to earn two and a half rupees per day at a ceramic factory, to support his family. Today, he is a top-rung Malayalam film director, with a string of national and international awards under his belt. In his struggle to make a mark for himself, Priyanandanan, unknowingly, created a grassroots movement, which supports low-budget, high-quality cinema in Kerala, in India's southwest. Currently he is in Mumbai to promote his second directorial venture, Pulijanmam (Tiger Life).
Priyanandanan, who hails from Trichur district of Kerala, dropped out of class to take up the job at the factory. He supplemented his mother's income and ensured education for his two younger sisters. Though deprived of a formal education, Priyanandanan exploited the free village library for knowledge and information about the world. As a hobby, he took to theatre and worked in several plays, bagging many awards. "But, I felt theatre was a limited medium with a very limited reach, and I had this urge to do something different," he said. So he turned to film-making.
You can read the rest of Priyanandanan's rise from poverty to award winning film director HERE
Two years ago, Denson was one of hundreds of unknown development executives pitching movie projects. Now she is Starbucks' new liaison to Hollywood, and the same execs who once spurned Denson are courting her in the hope that the coffee chain can be the kind of marketing juggernaut for movies and DVDs that it has been for music.
This is the man whose exploits inspired Forest, the film Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar (Little Terrorist) is making in India. Jim Corbett loved India and loved its wildlife. He was an expert tracker and hunter who became a pioneer filmmaker. To remote villagers, terrified by the presence of a maneater in their district, he was a hero. Now, with India's first national park named after him and his beautifully written books in school curricula throughout the country, he is a hero for every new generation of Indians, though some modern conservationists would criticise his methods. His books have inspired films before. His classic The Man Eaters of Tsavo became Hollywood's The Ghost and the Darkness. This is Jim Corbett's story...