Bhargav Saikia’s much anticipated short film – ‘The Black Cat’ has received official selection to the 4th annual FilmQuest Festival, which will take place from September 8 to 16, in Provo, Utah, USA. “Thrilled to be a part of this amazing festival which showcases top-quality, fantastic independent genre cinema,” says Bhargav.
“The screening at FilmQuest will most likely be the film’s international premiere.” It will also be screened at the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival in Guwahati in September, with an online release later this year.
It has always been tough for short films to find a proper market. Despite being such a thriving medium, they have yet to receive the attention they deserve. The journey for these films basically begins and ends on the film festival circuit. Within Assam, a burgeoning group is engaged in making short films, which have even received recognitions in festivals around the world.
The Assam-born and Mumbai based Bhargav Saikia is genuinely committed to his craft, while making creative use of the flexible medium. Saikia, who is influenced a great deal by fantasy, horror and sci-fi cinema, took the festival circuit by storm with his short film ‘Awakenings’, which reached a level of recognition very few Indian short films have achieved, having been screened at well over 190 film festivals worldwide to appreciative reviews, including the prestigious Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival, Razor Reel Flanders Film Festival, A Night of Horror International Film Festival, HollyShorts Film Festival among others.
Like ‘Awakenings’, which is based on Henry James’ ‘The Turn of the Screw’, Bhargav’s newest film is based on celebrated author Ruskin Bond’s short story ‘The Black Cat’, which, like many of his other works, has been anthologised as part of short story collections, and is also part of the junior school curriculum in India.
A fantasy adventure, ‘The Black Cat’ revolves around a broomstick, a witch and a black cat. While filming in the Himalayan province of Uttarakhand, Bhargav has been careful to retain the basic construction of the original story.
The market for this genre is fairly large, as proven by ‘Awakenings’ which resonated deeply with real genre fans and critics in festivals around the globe, and with the kind of buzz that it is creating, ‘The Black Cat’ too is now expected to follow suit.
The film stars veteran actor Tom Alter, who plays Bond, and Shernaz Patel as the mysterious Mrs Bellows. Uday Chandra will be seen as Jaffer, an antique shop owner, in the supporting cast. A natural choice to essay Ruskin Bond’s character, Tom Alter’s close friendship with the real Ruskin Bond has been a huge asset to the film.
Bhargav, who also produced the critically acclaimed feature, ‘Kaafiron Ki Namaaz’, has recently completed a horror-drama screenplay for his feature directorial debut, and he plans to begin working on the film soon.