Kamar Ahmad Simon's upcoming project “Day After Tomorrow”, was picked up by Cinefondation, a film development initiative of the Cannes Film Festival, to be part of its L'Atelier this year at the 70th edition of Cannes. “Day After Tomorrow” was one of the 15 projects from 14 countries from all over the world chosen, and Kamar will attend this year's festival as an invited guest of the Atelier.
Although being invited to Cannes is an epitome of sorts for filmmakers, it's not an unreal jump for Kamar at all. His first film, “Are You Listening!” has traveled to at major festivals like Berlinale, Dok-Leipzig and IDFA and many others in and out of competition, and has won the Grand Prix at the Cinema Du Reel in Paris.
Throughout the year, Cinefondation scouts for film projects it finds promising, gives its makers and producers expert advice and connects them to potential co-producers and funding sources.
The Daily Star caught up with the filmmaker to find out more about the project, and how the selection happened. Excerpts:
“I did not know that this film was being considered for L'Atelier. I recall at last year's Locarno (Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland), one of the officials of the L'Atelier, his name is Georges (Georges Goldenstern, General Manager, Cinefondation) wanted to meet with the people behind two of the eight projects in the Open Doors competition ('Day After Tomorrow' eventually won the first prize at the grant competition). So we had a meeting there. That is all the connection I have. And you know filmmakers cannot submit projects for the Atelier. The Cinefondation themselves select these projects. And I did not ask for that meeting; the interest was shown by Georges. Then last month, they contacted me and told me about the selection of the L'Atelier, but told me to not publicise it until March 15. But the announcement was made on Cannes' Facebook page on March 3; I was in Kolkata, for another project, 'Shikolbaha', when I got a call from Dhaka congratulating me,” Simon says.
So, what is “Day After Tomorrow” all about? “This thing has been on my mind for a very long time; loosely, I call it the 'Water trilogy'. The first of it was 'Are you Listening!”, the second is “Day After Tomorrow” and the third one, I keep telling myself, is 'Till the Last Drop”. If I am healthy and capable, I will finish this trilogy. As for what form of films they are, they are feature films. As a filmmaker, I love to delve between the lines of fiction and non-fiction.”
So what stage of production is “Day After Tomorrow” in? That is the next natural query. “I have prepared all the shooting materials, and done the primary photography as well. We can begin with the principal photography at any time. But like with 'Are You Listening!' which took me 20 months to film, this will also take a long time, at least 14-15 months. Because of the build-up of the narrative, I cannot speed that up,” says Simon.
The L'Atelier, established in 2005 to support filmmakers from virtually unknown to the established, has had a high success rate in its last 12 years: of the 186 films selected, 146 have been completed and another 14 are in pre-production.
This year's L'Atelier features films that have already been in buzz at the global film festival scene – from South African Jahmil X.T. Qubeka's “Sew the Winter to My Skin,” Jahmil X.T. Qubeka to Israeli Yona Rozenkier's “Decompression and Danish helmer Marie Grahtø Sørensen's “Teenage Jesus”. There are also films from China, Mexico, Mongolia, Palestine, Dominican Republic, Romania, UK, Singapore, Syria and Vietnam.