M Cream | World Premiere RIIFF 2014
By Agneya Singh
We had just wrapped post-production on our indie film “M Cream” and were busy planning an upcoming US tour when we were invited to be the ‘Official Closing Night Screening’ at the 18th Rhode Island International Film Festival or RIIFF as it is more commonly known. Needless to say we were ecstatic if a little humbled by the proposition. For those of you who may not know, RIIFF is the undisputed champion of disenfranchised mavericks and rebel filmmakers across the world. Not only is it one of the most prestigious platforms for international cinema worldwide, RIIFF unlike a lot of other festivals actually values the artistry of the film above and beyond all other considerations. There really could have been no better place to start our journey with “M Cream”! Also I must mention that unlike most other Indian films that lobby to have their international premieres for years on end, it literally happened for us overnight!
We reached Rhode Island, a picturesque state in New England, about a four-hour drive from New York (if you care to know), in the wee hours of the night… I had these wonderful grainy black and white images of the Newport Folk Festival (that used to take place in RI in the 1960s and where Bob Dylan and Joan Baez first found recognition) running through my head as we drove along endless country roads.
The festival itself was a riot of fun! It was everything we expected and much, much more. Unlike other festivals where commercial interest supersedes any kind of artistic integrity and where the market is more important than the festival itself, RIIFF was a breath of fresh New England air! It was all about the films, the filmmakers and most importantly the audience… There was a substantial representation of the Cream Team including myself Agneya Singh, fellow director Aban Raza, cast members Auritra Ghosh, Ira Dubey, Raaghav Chanana and casting associate Srimohi Roy. The opening night at RIIFF took place at the historic Providence Performing Arts Center and it truly was a visual treat! Showcasing films from established directors such as “Caserta Palace Dream” by James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) and also works by new filmmakers, it was a selection of some of the finest short films ever made. I daresay that we can expect an Oscar nomination or two from this lineup. The rest of the days were filled with screenings, parties and workshops! It was a very intimate environment where filmmakers and festival-goers merged into one large boisterous clan.
The day of our screening, August 10th, was marked by an Awards Ceremony at the RISD museum. We weren’t really expecting much given the caliber of films that we had seen over the last couple of days but we hoped we might walk away with a little something. The entire ceremony went by and we had all but given up hope when “M Cream” was named the ‘Best Feature Film’ at RIIFF 2014! Needless to say it’s been a fantastic start to our festival run. What really stands out to me is the fact that unlike many other festival films from India that are garbed in exotic overtones, “M Cream” is a film that is relatable by people across the world, or so I have been led to believe. It just goes to show that we all are fighting for similar ideas and that the struggles are indeed, one and the same.