Chola, the new film by the Sexy Durga/ S Durga director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan has been selected in competition for the Horizons/ Orrizonti section at the 76th Venice Film Festival. The section is dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema. And Sasidharan has both in spades.
Chola is a Malayalam-language movie, with the English title Shadow of Water. A magical realist drama, the film is about two teenagers who run away to visit the big city but end up having to spend the night in a bare-bones motel, where their nightmare begins. In a first for Sasidharan, it features mainstream actors Nimisha Sajayan and Joju George. Sajayan has previously been seen in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (2017) and Eeda (2108), while George was most recently seen in Virus (2019). Find a few exclusive images from the film below.
Sanal says that there are thematic similarities with his Tiger Award-winning film Sexy Durga, the first Indian film to do so at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. Both involve a road trip and the nightmares involved.
Sasidharan made his debut with the film Parole (2009), and has since made five more feature films including Oraalppokkam (2014), the acclaimed Ozhivudivasathe Kali (2015) and Sexy Durga (2017), another incredible social commentary film Death of Insane (2017), which he completed while working on Chola. The film has been produced by Aruna Mathew and Shaji Mathew.
Chola also won four awards at the Kerala State Film Awards this year, for the best male and female actor, a special jury award for direction and one for sound designing.
Chola is the sole Indian film competing among 19 international productions picked for the section for four awards, including for best feature. The only other Indian film to have won previously in the same section is Court by Chaitanya Tamhane, in the year 2014. In 2019, we have one other Indian film at the festival. Bombay Rose, a beautiful hand-painted animation feature by Gitanjali Rao, opens the Venice Critics Week out of competition.
The complete festival line-up was announced on 25 July 2019. The 76th Venice Film Festival will run from 28 August - 7 September 2019. For the full lineup, go here.