I saw in the monsoon an awful, beautiful, unfathomable phenomenon and wanted to both experience and meditate on it. – Sturla Gunnarsson
Award-winning filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson (Diplomatic Immunity, TIFF 1990; Gerri and Louise, 1997; Such A Long Journey, TIFF 1998; Rare Birds, TIFF 2001; Force of Nature, TIFF 2010) returns to TIFF 2014 with the World Premiere of MONSOON.
Part road movie, part spectacle, part human drama, MONSOON is a personal reflection on chaos, creation and faith in the land of believers.
MONSOON marks Sturla Gunnarsson’s filmmaking return to India, following his multi-award winning adaptation of Rohinton Mistry’s Such A Long Journey. This time the subject is monsoon, the incomparably vast seasonal weather system that permeates and unifies the immense and varied culture of India, shaping the conditions of existence for its billion inhabitants.
“Monsoon is my love letter to India, says Gunnarsson. I’ve been romanced by the idea of monsoon since I can remember. I’ve travelled often and extensively throughout India, I’m married into a big Indian family and have long dreamed of experiencing the monsoon. So, when producer Ina Fichman of Intuitive Pictures offered me the opportunity to make a film about it I jumped.”
MONSOON was filmed over the course of the 2013 monsoon season across the Indian sub-continent from coastal areas like Kerala and Goa to drought stricken agricultural lands of Maharashtra, the teeming cities of Mumbai and Kolkata and Cherrapunji, the world’s rainiest place in the State of Meghalaya, aka “Place of The Clouds” at the base of the Himalaya Range, where the monsoon ends its annual journey. Charting the huge system’s path as it surges toward and gradually engulfs every region of the country, MONSOON introduces us to a remarkable array of individuals whose lives are in different ways entwined with the phenomenon. Like, Bishnu Shastri, the red-haired bookie who never seems to lose a weather bet; the desperate farmers whose land has been passed over by monsoon for years; Bollywood star Moushumi Chatterjee who performed and danced in monsoon rain with Amitabh Bachchan in “Manzil”; and 12-year-old Akhila Prasad, whose family risks losing everything to the annual rains.”
Gunnarsson wanted to capture the epic scale of the monsoon on the breathtaking Indian landscape, while maintaining an intimate sense of the humanity affected by it. All decisions were governed by those two criteria – the epic and the human. There were many challenges in shooting mostly under extreme weather conditions but in order to achieve maximum cinematic effect, the filmmaker used Red Epic cameras which captured the images in ultra high definition 4K, which, in film terms, is roughly equivalent to 70mm. Gunnarsson felt that “the spirit of the monsoon danced in the clouds” and made extensive use of computer-controlled time-lapse photography.
MONSOON’s score was composed by Monsoon Dub Orchestra’s Andrew T. MacKay, based on the Malhar ragas, and featuring some of the top Indian players and vocalists in Bombay and London. The score also includes Bombay Dub’s “Monsoon Malabar’. For more information, click HERE.
A cinematic journey into the terrain where nature, science, belief and wonder converge in one of the most astonishing and breathtaking landscapes on earth, MONSOON is a film that captures the timelessness and rich human drama of our engagement with the natural world.
Check out the trailer below:
About Sturla Gunnarsson
Sturla Gunnarsson is one of Canada’s most prolific and eclectic filmmakers, whose work spans a broad range of genres, platforms and subject matter. His most recent documentary, Force Of Nature , won the 2010 TIFF Documentary Audience Award. Other non-fiction feature films include International Emmy Award-winning Gerrie & Louise and Academy Award nominated After The Axe. Fiction features include Beowulf & Grendel (Gerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgard), Rare Birds (William Hurt, Molly Parker) and Such A Long Journey (Roshan Seth, Om Puri). Gunnarsson’s extensive television directing credits include drama series for all the major North American networks.
MONSOON (2014, Canada/France, 106 mins.) Written and directed by Sturla Gunnarsson. Produced by Ina Fichman. Co-Producer: Luc Martin-Gousset. Editor: Nick Hector Director of Photography: Van Royko Original Music: Andrew T. Mackay. An Intuitive Pictures/Point du jour production in association with CBC and ARTE with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Rogers Documentary Fund and the support of the CNC.
MONSOON is distributed in Canada by Kinosmith Inc., an independent Canadian film distribution & marketing company founded in February 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. Kinosmith is also home to the Hot Docs Collection on DVD that releases award winning documentaries curated by the Hot Docs festival in Canada. Kinosmith recently announced that they will be teaming up with the Blue Ice Group to start a new, global distribution entity called Blue Ice Docs