Redlight to Limelight
A redlight neighbourhood strives to become a film colony
Project type: Documentary Feature
Project status: Production
Director: Bipuljit Basu
Producer: Nilotpal Majumdar
Producer: Max Tuula
Producer: Uldis Cekulis
Creative Consultant: Martijn te Pas
Cinematographer: Subhadeep Dey
Editor: Anirban Maity
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A group of sex workers and brothel youth form a film production house in the Kalighat redlight area, Kolkata, India. Despite the opposition from the conservative society, they are determined to become filmmakers, resist prostitution among the second generation, survive through the art of cinema, and aspire to transform the redlight area into a professional film colony in the post-pandemic time.
A group of brothel youth and their sex-worker mothers form their own film production enterprise called CAM-ON in the poor Kalighat redlight area, India. The energetic and creative community learns film crafts from the internet tutorial videos and uploads their dynamic visual stories on YouTube. Making the community issue-based, zero-budget short fiction film is their foray.
RABIN (22) is the founder-secretary of their unit. He chooses to become a film writer and he scripts stories for the films CAM ON produces. An aspiration of turning their brothel into a film colony always plays in his mind. MEENA (35) is a sex worker who became a fundraiser in the CAM ON group. She and her fellow members take extra bucks from each of her customers and the additional money goes to CAM ON fund to support the films they are making. AFSARA, a 19-year-old teenager, does not want to join sex work. Her step-father wants her to engage in prostitution. However, she chooses to work with Rabin as a dubbing artist. CAM ON faces resistance from the community, police, and other vested groups from outside. COVID-19 makes the situation even more difficult. However, Rabin and the team plan to produce a film again. They start raising funds innovatively for their zero-budget film. They plan to organize a screening in the city. The film initiative keeps reinventing the brothel’s interpersonal relationships. Will they be able to overcome the challenges and screen the film in the city? Will they get recognition from the mainstream local film industry? Will Rabin’s aspiration to turn the brothel into a film colony be fulfilled ever? We will be following in this observational documentary cinema on whether a marginalized community is empowered through a cinema initiative.
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Meet the Filmmakers
Bipuljit Basu – Director
Bipuljit Basu is an impact filmmaker in Indian hybrid cinema and documentaries. His foray is to bring the less known South Asian marginal stories in mainstream film and media. Postgraduate in Social Development, Bipuljit finds out the unexplored stories which have a social significance in popular culture, creating some impact values in the broader social spectrum. He believes in showing Inclusion, which is an instrument for social change. Bipuljit is nominated as an Asian Jury at Science Film Festival, hosted by UNDEP and Goethe Institute, held in 94 countries.
Filmography includes – Redlight to Limelight, Feature-length Documentary Cinema (Work In Progress), 2021-22, India – Estonia Coproduction, selected at international pitching forums of Sheffield Doc Fest Meet Market’22, UK, Dok Leipzig Co-Pro Market’21, Germany’, Docedge Kolkata’21,India, Dhaka Doc Lab’21, Bangladesh. “Midnight Blues”, Short Hybrid, 2021, 26 Min, selected NFDC Film Bazaar, India and in the Competition section (India Premier) at Kolkata International Film Festival’22.
Nilotpal Majumdar – Producer
Postgraduate from Film & Television Institute of India, Pune with a Specialization in Editing, he spearheaded the first Asian documentary incubator-cum-pitching forum Docedge-Kolkata to advance alternative reality storytelling in the region through skill development incubation and professional assistance. He attended international festivals and workshops as a Jury, tutor, and mentor. He is the former Dean of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute of India, Govt. Of India. He is at present engaged as Director, Manipur Film & Television Institute, Imphal, India. He was honoured with European Documentary Network Award 2017 for making an outstanding contribution towards the culture of global documentary cinema. Filmography as a producer includes- The land within ripples (1995), Metal Storm (1997), Rotinaama ( 2012)
Max Tuula – Producer
Max is the co-founder of Marx Film, a Tallinn-based production company, founded in 2012. Most of his films were made in collaboration with celebrated filmmakers Aleksander Rastorguev and Pavel Kostomarov. Among them are the experimental documentary I Don’t Love You by Kostomarov/Rastorguev (Warsaw IFF 2012), The Term by Pivovarov/Kostomarov/Rastorguev (Karlovy Vary IFF 2014), Kiev/Moscow by Elena Khoreva (Special Mention at Locarno IFF 2015), My Friend Boris Nemtsov by Zosya Rodkevich (Best Documentary at Krakow FF 2016) and political documentaries, including The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov by Askold Kurov which premiered at Berlinale Special in 2017, How Big Is the Galaxy? by Ksenia Elyan (IDFA 2018, Best European Children’s Documentary 2019).
Uldis Cekulis – Producer
He created the independent production company VFS FILMS almost 20 years ago and worked on almost 50 creative documentaries and author-driven prime time TV docu-series.. He won the International Trailblazer prize at MIPDOC in Cannes. Most of his produced films have received awards around the world, including nomination for the European Film Academy Documentary Award in 2005 for Dreamland by Laila Pakalnina and Immortal by Ksenia Okhapkina awarded Crystal Globe as Best Documentary Film at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Three of his films, Ramin and Bridges of Time by Audrius Stonys and Kristine Briede as well as Wonderful Losers. A Different World by Arunas Matelis, were selected as the official Lithuanian entries to the Academy Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, 2018 and 2019 respectively. In 2015, IDFA Special Jury Award went to Ukrainian Sheriffs by Roman Bondarchuk, which also resulted as the official Oscars entry in 2016. He is also a member of the European Film Academy.
Martijn te Pas – Creative Consultant
Martijn was the Senior Programmer and Head of the Program department at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) from 2000 to 2018. He was also the IDFA Bertha Forum and Bertha Fund advisor, maintaining an extensive network of film professionals and attending major film festivals – often as a juror. Martijn was a documentary advisor for the Dutch Media fund ( renamed as NPO Fund). In 2020 Martijn was a Guest Documentary Programmer at Nordisk Panorama, selecting films for the Best Nordic Documentary competition and the New Nordic Voice Competition. Currently, he is also a programmer and festival advisor of MIRAGE- an Oslo-based hybrid documentary Festival, and Sheffield Doc Fest. From April 2020 onwards, he started ‘e u R O P E doconsultancy ‘- a company based in Stockholm consulting both filmmakers and producers on all stages of creative nonfiction projects.
Subhadeep Dey – Cinematographer
A Film and Television Institute of India, Pune pass out, Subhadeep believes in framing surrealism in Camera. For the last 8 years, he has been filming a range of film genres. However, his preference always lies in nonfiction cinema and hybrid documentaries based on South Asian social issues. His filmography includes The Darkroom (2010) directed by Renu Sawant (Berlinale Film Festival, Kerala International Film Festival), Train Singers (2015), directed by Abhishek Basu, Produced by NHK, Japan, Shikor, the Root (2019), directed by Pradipta Bhattacharya, produced by National Film Division Corporation(India), The Divine Elephant, directed by Renu Sawant, National Award (India), Special Jury mention in Budapest Masterclass, Hungary.
Anirban Maity – Editor
Anirban Maity started his career as an edit caretaker in the contemporary Bengali cinema industry. Anirban has never received professional training in editing, but only learned the art by watching and studying world cinema. Gradually he has accomplished himself as one of the prominent editors for indie and documentary films in Kolkata. Renowned Bengali director Tapan Sinha inspired Anirban in editing cinema to create magic on the screen. His first independent work on editing was Bari Tar Bangla with director Rangan Chakraborty in 2015. Kia and Cosmos, a crowd-funded film Dudh Pither Gachh Sahobashe, Network and Sahoj Pather Gappo to name a few that caught critic’s attention to his work. Kia And Cosmos was nominated in the prestigious Milan International Film Festival for the best editing. Sahaj Pather Gappo has earned him the best editing Filmfare East Award (India) in 2018. Another indie project named Work In Progress received ‘The Garoa Award’ for best editing of documentary.’
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