A visual artist, a “storyteller at heart”, an FTII graduate with two National Awards and an emerging filmmaker are some of the winners of the Children’s Screenwriters’ Lab, an initiative of NFDC India to pep up films for young audiences. The second edition of the Lab was held in collaboration with CineKid Amsterdam, the largest international film, television and new media festival for children between four and 14, and is also receiving support from DutchCulture, Centre for International Cooperation.
The half-dozen, who made the final cut, can be divided into first-timers and veterans. Sneha Nair, an assistant director and a researcher, has attempted her first screenplay with Beej. Priya Ramasubban, too, is attempting something new. She has made films for major international broadcasters but Chuskit, a Hindi and Ladhaki story, is her first fiction feature. Mrudhula Sridharan, who discovered a love for storytelling during a stint in ad films, is creating her first feature screenplay, titled Malli in Tamil.
The other two selected works come from experienced hands. Nitin Zihani Chaudhary, a visual artist based in Mumbai, has worked on films such as Ship of Theseus and the upcoming Tumbad, and is writing Krikus, which has been selected by the Lab. Kaushal Oza, a veteran with many awards for short films, is creating a story in Hindi and English, titled Little Thomas and the Miracle of Life.
Last year’s winners included Sharmilaar Sankar’s film, The Mahout, in which, under the guise of a boy, a Kerala girl embarks on a journey to find her beloved pet elephant. Other films from last year’s selection also emphasise on the importance of friendship; Sagarika Banik’s The Lottery Ticket was about two boys who realise the futility of short cuts. Soumitra Ranade’s narrative revolves around the bond between a six-year-old with a wild imagination and a dry-fruit seller from Kabul in Kabuliwala.
The Lab will allow participants to discover their stories through focused sessions, both group-based and one-on-one, with international mentors. The mentors include filmmakers from the Netherlands — Tijs van Marle, Sytske Kok and Jolein Laarman. The participants will also get the chance to showcase their scripts to producers and investors at a special session during Film Bazaar.