Amit Masurkar tells tale of Indian elections with NEWTON. #Tribeca2017

India is world's largest democracy, and indian elections play a huge role in that. Amit Masurkar's film NEWTON is a satire, which shows a face of that election process. The good thing is the film is able to present that with lot of humor, clubbed amazing performances. the film is also beautifully shot, in some remote parts (actual locations) of India, which gives it lot of authenticity. Rajkumar Rao, who has become a powerhouse in Indian independent cinema now, is quiet wonderful as the righteous, strength and no-nonsense election officer. His nuanced performance is wonderful to watch. But the biggest hook of the film is it's beautiful story, told quite spectacularly by the director Amit V Masurkar. The film acts as a comedy, a thriller, a drama and a political commentary, all-in-one!

The film is story of Newton, who is a stickler for principles – whether with respect to his unusual name or the not entirely orthodox way in which his arranged marriage has been handled. He’s given the job of a volunteer election worker and entrusted with a mission that demands the utmost flexibility if it’s to succeed. Newton is flown by helicopter into the jungle. The village where he’s to make sure that the election is carried out properly turns out to be a democratic stress-centre, where he must keep devious military personnel and oddball bureaucrats in check – even as the voters, the very people the whole thing is about, remain strangely absent. The Adivasi – as the indigenous people of India are called – are wise to keep their distance from this staged spectacle of democracy and put up resistance with a cunning game of hide-and-seek. Newton remains true to his principles. When a foreign election monitor arrives, the tide turns in his favor – but only temporarily.

With a feel for the special, multifaceted humor of his compatriots, Amit V. Masurkar succeeds in making Newton into a black comedy about the pale specter of democracy in dark times. We had a chance to talk to Amit. You can watch it here:

Amit V. Masurkar was born in Bagalkot, India in 1981. He studied Engineering at the Manipal Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India from 1999 to 2002. He then worked as an assistant director on films made for television, before writing comedy sketches for TV and film screenplays starting in 2003. From 2003 to 2006, he also studied History at the University of Mumbai. NEWTON is Amit V. Masurkar’s second film after the sleeper hit SULEMANI KEEDA in 2014. 

NEWTON was part of the Co-Production Market (CPM) at Film Bazaar 2015 and also one of the Film Bazaar Recommends titles at Film Bazaar 2016.

About Drishyam Films
Drishyam Films aims to build a platform for unique voices of Indian independent cinema and create global content with rich Indian flavours. The company's filmmaking journey started with the award-winning film Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor. Its success was followed by Umrika directed by Prashant Nair which premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2015 and bagged the Audience Choice Award. Soon after, Dhanak directed by Nagesh Kukunoor won the Grand Jury prize at Berlinale 2015, and Masaan directed by Neeraj Ghaywan picked up two big awards at Cannes 2015. Drishyam’s next film Waiting directed by Anu Menon, premiered at the prestigious Dubai International Film Festival. All their films have been released theatrically to universal critical acclaim. Their upcoming productions include Atanu Mukerjee’s Rukh starring Manoj Bajpayee and Amit Masurkar’s Newton starring Rajkummar Rao. Drishyam Films had partnered with the Sundance Institute, USA between 2015 to 2016 to organize Screenwriters’ lab for Indian writers in its endeavor to promote content-driven cinema. They have set up a VFX studio specialising in post-production and visual effects for feature films and commercials. Drishyam VFX has provided end-to-end VFX services for tent-pole Bollywood films such as Abhishek Kapoor's Fitoor, Ashutosh Gowariker's Mohenjo Daro and Vishal Bharadwaj's upcoming feature Rangoon, among many others.

RESERVOIR DOGS Reunion at #Tribeca2017, with 25th anniversary screening and panel talk.

Tribeca Film Festival 2017 saw the reunion of the team of cult classic RESERVOIR DOGS. Twenty-five years ago, auteur filmmaker Quentin Tarantino reinvigorated cinema with his singular voice in his canonical feature Reservoir Dogs. He generously provided a 35mm print from his archive for this special 25th anniversary screening.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Quentin himself, joined by Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen. They talked about the colossal failure of first screening at Sundance; Quentin counting the walkouts from early screenings during the torture scene; casting of Michael and rest of the cast; making of the movie and a lot more. Watch the videos below to get the word directly from the horse's mouth.

Reservoir Dogs, directed and written by Quentin Tarantino. (USA). They were perfect strangers, assembled to pull off the perfect crime. Then their simple robbery explodes into a bloody ambush and the ruthless killers realize one of them is a police informant. But which one? With Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Edward Bunker, Quentin Tarantino.

Elina Psykou, director of SON OF SOFIA #Tribeca2017

Elina Psykou's SON FO SOFIA won the best international film award at Tribeca Film Festival 2017. The film is written and directed by Elina and stars Viktor Khomut, Valery Tcheplanowa, Thanasis Papageorgiou, Artemis Havalits, Christos Stergioglou, Iro Maltezou. In her second feature, Elina Psykou explores the inability to express and accept love. Son of Sofia gives a glimpse into Misha’s mind as he is confronted with early puberty and clashes with adulthood.

We had an opportunity to talk to Elina, here are the excerpts:

Art Shrian: The film deals with several subjects like immigrants, family, Parenthood, childhood amongst many. What do you think is strongest & core theme of the film, and why?

Elina Psykou: For me the strongest theme of the film is identity formation. Of all types, such as national, sexual, linguistic, religious, political… Misha is at that sensitive age where he has to build his personality and he is surrounded by so many stimuli. All the others themes, like immigration and family, come to contribute to his identity formation, to his coming of age, let’s say.

AS: Was it specifically challenging to work with kids or young artist? How was your experience?

EP: It was my first time working with a kid, plus it was his first experience with a camera. So, both me and Viktor (the kid who plays Misha) were enthusiastic about exploring the process. Viktor is a really cool and clever kid, so we didn’t face any difficulties. From the very beginning, I decided not to give him the whole script and this was the most important challenge for me as a director. I just read to him the story and then started improvising with the other actors. It was really useful that he didn’t have the script in his home, so he didn’t have to learn lines etc. This way, he stayed authentic and fresh, and his interest never waned until the last day of the shoot.

AS: The film is multilingual. Why these specific languages? And how was casting and scripting for multiple languages.

EP: The story is set in Greece, so Greek was a normal choice. As for the Russian, I decided that Sofia and Misha had to be from Russia, first for realistic reasons, as the majority of women immigrants in Greece come from Eastern Europe. But second, I felt that the culture and sociopolitical history of Russia took me down a very interesting cinematic path. So, I explored songs, the communist background, the Olympic games, TV programs and I finally used a lot of traditional elements of the region.

Casting was really challenging. We found Misha in a multicultural school in Athens, but we tested a lot of kids from Russia and Greece as well. The same for Sofia’s part, we tested a lot of actresses from Russia and Greece, but we finally found her in Germany. As for the rest of the kids, we found them in schools and cultural associations of immigrants. And finally, it was easier for the Greek actors, as they are quite famous in Greece, so we didn’t have to discover them!

Scripting and directing a film where most of dialogue is in a language I don’t speak (Russian), a language so different from my native one, was challenging as well. I decided to take some private Russian lessons only to discover that Russian is so difficult... But I insisted, I continued the courses and I studied every single line of dialogue. Very soon I managed to understand what I was listening to and I could follow the actors and their feelings. The communication between all of us was a present day Babylonia in a way – we communicated in Greek, Russian and English, as well as some Bulgarian, as for coproduction reasons, we had also four Bulgarians technicians in our set.

AS: How was the experience of having your film at Tribeca?

EP: It was wonderful. After so many years of working on the film, I was nervous but enthusiastic at the same time, when the time came to present it to the world. The screenings and the audience were really warm. So, now the film is an adult, it exists without me, it can fly away from me, like Misha in the end…

AS: What do you think about diversity and inclusion in film industry (women and others, both behind and in front of the camera)

EP: It is difficult to know what’s happening in other countries, but in Greece the things are getting much better. There are almost as many talented and recognized female directors as there are male. The same for actors and actresses and of course for artistic collaborators. Yes, sometimes it is difficult to be a woman or a non-white in the film industry, but I am optimistic that this is changing and I think the most powerful weapon against any prejudice is our movies and artistic work.

AS. Finally - What’s your most favorite and least favorite thing about New York? Be candid!

EP: It was my first time in New York, so I didn’t have the time to explore everything I wanted to. I really liked Williamsburg and the walk to Brooklyn’s bridge, plus I enjoyed the gospel at St. Joseph Church in Harlem. In Manhattan, I felt strange, like part of a video game, and this fascinated as well as terrified me.

Synopsis: Two years after his father’s death, Misha’s mother has created a new life in a new country. After migrating from Russia to Greece she has found a husband for herself, whose obnoxious attempts at disciplining her son are less than welcome. Moving to Athens means Misha’s life is being uprooted and his identity reformulated. This deeply personal story is enveloped in fairy tales, set in the peculiar cultural circumstance of the summer of 2004, as the Summer Olympics pervade all casual conversations and the ever-popular winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest plays in the background. What is public and communal invades the private in the form of sports, music and television. A child’s imagination transforms difficult situations into the dark side of fairy tales.

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Allen Maldonado, is launching digital app for short films, EVERYBODY DIGITAL. #Sundance

Allen Maldonado is one of young Hollywood’s busiest stars on the rise. The multi-talented actor, writer and entrepreneur, not only co-stars on the award-winning sitcom, BLACK-ISH  (ABC), he is also in his third season as a full time writer on the hit Starz series, SURVIVOR'S REMORSE, has recurred for three seasons on YOU’RE THE WORST (FXX), is booked for a major film shooting over the next two months in Detroit, and has developed the industry's first digital app for short films, Everybody Digital, launching early spring. We had a chance to talk to him at Sundance 2017. Here it is:

In the past couple of years, Allen has appeared in several blockbuster films including the Sony Pictures action thriller, THE EQUALIZER. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (TRAINING DAY, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN), Maldonado stars as ‘Marcus’ opposite Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. The film is adapted from the television series of the same name and follows ‘Robert McCall’ (Washington), a solitary, monastic figure with a mysterious past who despises injustice and devotes himself to helping victims. The film was released and opened at #1 in the box office.

Maldonado was also seen in the feature CAKE alongside Jennifer Aniston, Sam Worthington, Anna Kendrick and William H. Macy. CAKE won a Golden Globe and several other awards. After CAKE, Allen joined the cast of Universal’s NWA biopic STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, produced by Ice Cube and helmed by F. Gary Gray, which opened at #1 in the box office and stayed there for four weeks straight.

Last September, TV One aired the TV movie, RINGSIDE, in which Maldonado starred as Spencer Collier, the egotistical welterweight boxing champion of the world. In addition, he has 4 films in post-production slated to be released in 2017; FIRST MATCH, SMARTASS, QUEST, and WHERE’S THE MONEY?

His dexterity in sitcom is demonstrated by his character in BLACK-ISH, in which Allen co-stars as ‘Curtis’ the super cool millennial assistant to Anthony Anderson in the offices of Stevens & Lido.  On YOU’RE THE WORST, which centers on two toxic, self-destructive people who fall in love and attempt a relationship; he portrays ‘Honey Nutz’ in this sitcom which puts a dark twist on the romantic comedy genre. In addition,Maldonado has impressed with memorable appearances on MAJOR CRIMES and ROSEWOOD. 

Lastly, SURVIVOR’S REMORSE is a hit comedy on Starz that follows Cam Calloway and his family as they deal with his recent rise in fame and money as a professional basketball player.Maldonado stars as ‘DeShauwn May,’ a wild and spontaneous ex-drug dealer turned sports manager. For season 3 of SURVIVOR’S REMORSE he was brought on as a writer and quickly earned a "story by" credit, showing he's just as talented behind the camera as he is in front of it. He is currently still writing for season 4. 

Of African American and Puerto Rican descent, Maldonado is a native of Rialto, CA, a city just outside of Los Angeles. Allen was raised by his single mother, having lost his father to cancer at a very young age. Growing up in a tough neighborhood, he was inspired by his mother’s passion and determination. This platform of support has proven invaluable for him to achieve his goals. At the age of 21, Maldonado landed a year-long role in the daytime series THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS until his career was briefly interrupted when he was involved in a near-fatal car accident with a drunk driver. After a brief, yet arduous recovery, Maldonado began to build his resume landing roles in the Emmy® nominated CBS drama JUDGING AMY and FX's THE SHIELD," DETROIT 187, CHASE and RIZZOLI & ISLES to name a few. Additionally, his film credits include LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, THE UGLY TRUTH, THE NEXT THREE DAYS, and the Marvel Studios short film ALL HAIL THE KING.

Outside of his acting career, Maldonado is a successful entrepreneur. He runs a record company- Get It Done Records; a production company- Only Son Productions; and a T-shirt line- Vineyards Phinest, where a portion of the proceeds go to his foundation. As a staunch advocate for higher education, community service, and encouraging youth to pursue the arts,Maldonado is the founder of Demo Nerds, a foundation that provides free acting classes, tools, and services for at-risk youth and foster children in the inner cities of Los Angeles. Additionally, the organization frequently collaborates with other city programs such as “The Boys & Girls Club,” “The Dream Center," and the “New Village Girls Academy”. 

During his rare free time, Maldonado enjoys working out, boxing, playing basketball, and spending time with his family.