Thursday, June 13, 2024

With nationwide release Garo film makes history in France


The day after the curtains went up on the 77th Cannes Film Festival, a small, independent film from Meghalaya, a state with only two movie theatres, made history in France.
On May 15, Dominic Sangma’s second film, “Rimdogittanga” (Rapture) in Garo language, was released across 33 French cities and 36 theatres, including three in Paris and one in Nice, a 30-minute drive away from Cannes.
The film is going strong and is now in its second week. “When I got the news of the release of ‘Rapture’ in France, I was elated,” says Sangma. “It is the dream of any director to see their films released in theatres.”
“So many of us in India are struggling to find distributors and sales agents who can push our films out into the world,” he adds. “Many wonderful independent films are deprived of a theatrical release in our country.”
Sangma was lucky. “Rapture” premiered at the Locarno Film Festival last year and then screened at the 3 Continents Festival in Nantes, France.
Louis Descombes, the head of distribution and acquisitions at Capricci Films, saw the film in Nantes and decided to bet on it.
“The mail from Louis came out of the blue,” says Sangma. “We had approached many sales agents. Everybody seemed to love the film but they politely refused to acquire it. I had given up hope when Louis wrote to me.”
“Rapture” is a delicately crafted and thematically incisive probe into the extent that religion and social bindings influence a close-knit community’s sense of good and evil.
“Meghalaya has only two movie theatres – one in Shillong, the other in Byrnihat,” says Sangma. “In the Garo Hills, the region I come from, there isn’t a single theatre. So, the possibility of my film being released in my state is next to zero.”
No film from Meghalaya has ever secured a theatrical release in France.
“Many young filmmakers in my state are congratulating and thanking me. They see this as a breakthrough that they hope will allow them to dream big,” says Sangma.
“Once a film is made, it is not in our control anymore,” he says. “It decides the course of its own journey.”
“Before the Locarno nod, festival after festival had rejected ‘Rapture’. I was bogged down by self-doubt and fear,” says Sangma, who now has reason to put all misgivings behind him.
After the release of “Rapture” in France, the director received a mail from Louis Descombes that could only be music to his ears.
It read: “The film is greatly appreciated by exhibitors. We have received a label from GNCR (Groupement National des Cinemas de Recherche), a group of arthouse exhibitors. This will enable us to obtain greater distribution and visibility.” (PTI)