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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IFFI 51, Goa, 16-24 January 2021, 04: Pablo Cesar to Chair International Jury

IFFI 51, Goa, 16-24 January 2021, 04: Pablo Cesar to Chair International Jury

The 51st edition of International Film Festival of India announced its five-member International Jury today, with eminent film-makers from across the world. The Jury will comprise Pablo Céésar (Argentina) as Chairman, Prasanna Vithanage (Sri Lanka), Abu Bakr Shawky (Austria), Priyadarshan (India) and Ms. Rubaiyat Hossain (Bangladesh).

Pablo César is an Argentinian film-maker. He has the critically acclaimed films, Equinox, the Garden of the Roses, Los Dioses de Agua and Aphrodite, the Garden of the Perfumes. He started making films when he was 13 years old when his older brother, José María, who was also a film-maker, gave him a Super 8mm camera, and taught him about the art and techniques of making movies. During the first period of learning cinema, he made twenty short films and two long feature films, in Super 8mm. In 1987, he started to make 35mm long feature films. He has been constantly recognised for his particular vision and his daring narration skills.

He is an international pioneer in developing co-productions between his home country, Argentina, and Tunisia, Mali, Benin, Angola, Ethiopia, India and Namibia. César is a professor too, teaching in the University of Cinema in Buenos Aires, where he specialises in film direction, production and his seminar of ‘author’s cinema’, since 1992. Three of his recent films are The Hidden Sky (2016), co-production Argentina-Namibia, Thinking of Him (2017), co-production Argentina-India, The Call of the Desert (2018) co-production Argentina-Morocco. Thinking of Him, which explores Rabindranath Tagore’s relationship with Argentinian feminist, writer and activist Victoria Ocampo, was the closing film at the 48th International Film Festival of India in Goa, 2018.

Prasanna Vithanage is a Sri Lankan film-maker. He is considered one of the pioneers of the third generation of the Sri Lankan cinema. He has directed eight feature films, including Death on a Full Moon Day (1997), August Sun (2003), Flowers of the Sky (2008) and With You, Without You (2012; starring Indian actress Anjali Patil), and won many prestigious national and international awards. His films have also been commercially successful in Sri Lanka. In his early theatre work, he translated and produced plays by international writers, and adapted works of world literature to film. He has battled against censorship in Sri Lanka and worked as an educator of cinema, who has conducted many Master Classes in the sub-continent for young film-makers and enthusiasts. He has been participating in earlier IFFIs and his films have won acclaim here too.

Abu Bakr Shawky, or “A.B.” Shawky, is an Egyptian-Austrian writer and director. His first feature film, Yomeddine, a road movie featuring a leper, his donkey, and his child companion, named Obama, Yomeddine, which means “Judgement Day” in English, was selected to participate in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Ten years before Yom-ed-dine, he made a short documentary, about the leper colony in Egypt. He got the idea while he was there, because people were telling me all these stories about how people were dropped as children, and never heard from their parents again. He wanted to make a film about that. It stayed with him for a few years until, in 2013, he wrote the script for it.

Rubaiyat Hossain is a Bangladeshi film director, writer and producer. Rubaiyat is one of Bangladesh’s handful of female film-makers, known for her debut feature film Meherjaan (2011), which faced political and cultural wrath in Bangladesh, for its anti-war narrative, and its critique of masculine nationalism, from a feminine point of view. Her second feature film, Under Construction (2015), premièred at New Directors’ Showcase at Seattle International Film festival, and was theatrically released and well-received in Bangladesh. Her third feature film, Made in Bangladesh (2019), premièred at Toronto International Film Festival. Rubaiyat uses a feminist lens to deconstruct what she calls the otherwise "phallocentric institution of cinema". Currently, she lives between Dhaka and New York, making films and attending the Tisch School of Arts at New York University, in Cinema Studies.

Priyadarshan Soman Nair is an Indian film director, screenwriter, and producer. In a career spanning over three decades, he has directed more than 95 films, in various Indian languages, predominantly in Malayalam and Hindi, while also having done six films in Tamil and two in Telugu. In a career spanning over three decades, he has directed more than 95 films, in various Indian languages, predominantly in Malayalam and Hindi, while also having done six films in Tamil and two in Telugu. Among his record 26 films in Hindi are Hera Pheri, Hungama, Hulchul, Garam Masala, Bhagam Bhag, Chup Chup Ke, Dhol, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Malamaal Weekly.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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