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    HomePoliticsIndia-China Locarno Film ‘Rapture’ Explores the Politics of Fear – Variety

    India-China Locarno Film ‘Rapture’ Explores the Politics of Fear – Variety

    Indian filmmaker Dominic Sangma’s “Rapture” (“Rimdogittanga”) is the second in a trilogy of films based on his memories of village life that began with his debut feature “Ma’ama” (2018).

    The Garo-language film, which revolves around a 10-year-old boy who suffers from night blindness and for whom every night is terrifying when his village is gripped by the fear of child-kidnappers, originated from another memory of Sangma, who hails from Meghalaya in northeastern India.

    “The film germinated from the fear I experienced when I was a kid, fear of others, others that don’t look like us, or talk like us, the outsiders, also the idea of child kidnappers or a stranger lurking around at night is very common in northeastern India,” Sangma told Variety. “Fear is a very important tool in the hands of power be it in religion or politics, there is so much fear and hatred among each other in our time.”

    “What I wish through my film is to make the audience ask the right questions to find the right answer. Who creates this fear? What are we afraid of? I want to create doubt in their belief system that nothing is absolute – one of the factors that divide us nowadays is our belief system, it can be anything, religion, ideologies, political inclination etc,” Sangma added.

    The fear the villagers experience in the film is also due to a church prophesy that an apocalyptic darkness lasting 80 days is imminent. “The majority of the population in Meghalaya is Christian and the church plays a very important role in the community yet knowingly or unknowingly lots of our practices involve ancient beliefs even if most of us have become Christian,” Sangma said.

    The film is a rare India-China co-production. One of the lead producers is China’s Xu Jianshang, who met Sangma at a students’ film festival in 2014 and produced “Ma’ama,” which won an award at the Shanghai Film Festival. “Rapture” was developed when Xu was attending the Busan Asian Film School in 2019. “There I learned some knowledge of how to produce films independently by using the system of festivals, film funds and film markets. I think it’s one of the suitable ways for arthouse work. It gives more space for artist directors like Dominic to spread their creations,” Xu told Variety.

    Xu put her Busan-gleaned knowledge to good use and introduced the project to Sun Li of China’s Joicy Studio, who boarded the project. The film’s India producer Anu Rangachar brought in several other producers including Harsh Agarwal of Uncombed Buddha, Aditya Grover and Stephen Zacharias. Eva Gunme R. Marak, a patron for many artists in the region, also boarded the project.

    “Rapture” was invited to India’s Film Bazaar, won a grant for script development from the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund, participated in Boost NL and was selected for La Fabrique Cinema at Cannes. Xu took part in Talents Tokyo and Sangma at Berlinale Talents. Funding also came in from Vision Sud Est, Switzerland, and Doha Film Institute.

    The project was not made under the aegis of the 2014 India-China co-production agreement, so political tensions between the countries did not come into play. Xu is in talks for Chinese theatrical distribution. She is also working on a suspense arthouse Chinese feature under her production and distribution house CaoMu, based in Hangzhou.

    Next up for Sangma is the third part in his trilogy, also produced by Xu, and as a producer he is in post on short film “Lisum,” directed by Karry Padu from Arunachal Pradesh, via his Anna Films, which is committed to producing auteur-driven films from northeastern India.

    Meanwhile, some of the troubling events depicted in “Rapture” have real-life parallels in the northeastern state of Manipur. “When I was developing my script these were things I was afraid of seeing in reality, in fact, there were some scenes I was too sad and afraid to write that I had to omit it from my final draft,” Sangma said.

    “What’s happening in Manipur is unimaginable but at the same time, it is inevitable because someone somewhere is or was working to make different communities living together for so long to feel that they’re different from others. This sensing of others is also very palpable in Meghalaya too. The sooner we will be able to blur or erase this line we will be able to save ourselves from such tragedy. I hope art can do that.”

    “Rapture” world premieres at Locarno’s Cineasti del presente strand on Aug. 10.



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