Darjeeling, Dec 08 (Siliguri Journal) – Kurseong Director Vivek Rai’s Nepali Short Film ‘Shanti’ Chosen for Top Honor at Kustendorf Festival in Serbia! The film will be competing in the Best Film category at the renowned Kustendorf International Film and Music Festival next month.
The Kustendorf International Film and Music Festival (KIFMF), established by acclaimed director Emir Kusturica, has welcomed notable Hollywood figures such as Johnny Depp, Monica Bellucci, and Jim Jarmusch in the past. Despite not being focused on showcasing Hollywood A-listers, the festival has attracted their presence.
Kusturica, the festival’s founder, is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for “When Father Was Away on Business” (1985) and “Underground” (1995). Additionally, he secured the Best Director award for “The Times of Gypsies” in 1988.
Expressing his joy, Vivek, 39, shared, “It came as a huge surprise. I am totally overwhelmed by joy. This is the first film from India to make it to this prestigious Kustendorf festival. I guess the eight years of hard work are finally getting paid off.”
The festival is scheduled from January 23 to 27 at Drvengrad, Serbia, and Vivek, accompanied by Shanti’s cinematographer Rajeev Runthala from Mumbai, will be present.
Vivek, who delved into theatre during his Himali Boarding School days in Kurseong, shifted to Nepal in 2009 after completing his post-graduation at Delhi University. Initially exploring opportunities in advertising, he later worked for a non-government organization before embarking on his filmmaking journey in 2016.
“Shanti” draws inspiration from Nepali writer Chimi Angmu Lama’s collection of short stories—Ek Mukta Munal.
Inspired by a chapter on feminism and a meaningful conversation with the author, Vivek conceived “Shanti.”
In Vivek’s words, “Shanti tries to reevaluate established constructs that inextricably link brutal and savagery to masculine power while gentle, kind and soft with feminism.”
Acknowledging the collaborative effort, he expressed gratitude to friends Pem Tshering Yolmo, Amaan Rai, and Siddarth Rai for their assistance in bringing “Shanti” to life. The film was extensively shot in the picturesque village of Sitong in Kurseong.
Vivek, along with friends Karma Choejor and Kusang Lama, co-owns the production house April Skies Films.
Highlighting their achievements, Vivek shared, “Our Nepali film Jyoti Binako Ujyalo was the winner at the Sangrila Darjeeling Literature Festival in 2019 and it also reached the second round at a film festival in Spain.”
He also mentioned Saurav Rai, 37, from Darjeeling, who secured a jury award at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic for his Nepali feature film “Guras” (rhododendron).