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There Are No Heroes or Villains in “Against the Tide”

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PARK CITY, UTAH – JANUARY 20: (L–R) Quentin Laurent, Sarvnik Kaur, and Koval Bhatia attend the 2023 Sundance Film Festival “Against the Tide” premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on January 20, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images)

By Lucy Spicer

When director Sarvnik Kaur came upon the idea for Against the Tide, which premiered January 20 at the Egyptian Theatre, she was looking for some good in the world.

“I figured out very early on that the world was paradoxical,” she says at the documentary’s post-premiere Q&A. “Good, when it takes itself too seriously, becomes evil, and evil can be a turning point for regeneration, for re-creation. And in between these two men — we’re talking about modernity and tradition — there was a conversation between the heart and the mind for me.”

The men she speaks of are Rakesh and Ganesh, two fishermen part of the Koli community in Bombay. Rakesh fishes using traditional methods on a small boat, while Ganesh is in charge of a larger, more modern vessel that uses higher-tech methods for deep-sea fishing. Their lives look pretty different on the surface, yet the two are close friends. “There was a love that bound them — love of identity, love of the sea, which went way beyond, way, way, beyond their differences,” says Kaur.

Another thing the two have in common is their current lack of fishing success. The waters along Bombay’s coast are heavily polluted and home to increasing numbers of jellyfish species, both of which are contributing to the dwindling fish population. Despite their differences in lifestyle, both men are feeling the financial strain — Ganesh from his modern Bombay flat, and Rakesh from his modest home that only recently acquired running water.

Ganesh takes out loans and contemplates further unscrupulous fishing methods, while Rakesh’s mother urges her son to remain humble and pray for a better catch. Both men have growing families for whom they need to provide, and it’s not up to us to judge either of them. “This film has been done with a lot of diligence, with a lot of love, with a lot of honesty, and transparency that there were no good and evil that I was looking for, no heroes and villains that I was trying to portray,” explains Kaur during the post-premiere discussion.

Kaur’s vérité approach seeks to place the audience in Rakesh’s and Ganesh’s homes while simultaneously reminding us that their struggles aren’t black and white. “I needed for them to resonate with my voice,” says Kaur. “I needed for them to understand where I was at, because I was not going with some sanctimonious idea of ‘I know how your life is, or better than you know it.’ I went with, ‘Can you show me the way? My creativity is limited, and your lives are infinite. Just let me be there.’”

The long process of observing the two men’s everyday lives is what truly brought home the purpose of the project for Kaur. “For the focus of our film, it was always that life is tough, and it’s full of tragedy, and yet it’s a joy. It’s a celebration. And the celebration is hidden in these small, little moments.”

2024 TIFF: César Augusto Acevedo, K’naan Warsame, Laura Carreira & Durga Chew-Bose in Discovery Programme

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2024 TIFF: César Augusto Acevedo, K’naan Warsame, Laura Carreira & Durga Chew-Bose in Discovery Programme

Reserved for debut and sophomore films from emerging filmmakers, this year’s Toronto International Film Festival’s Discovery programme consists of two dozen feature films and it’ll include some noteworthy items beginning with the film that opens the section in Canadian writer-turned filmmaker Durga Chew-Bose‘s directorial debut Bonjour Tristesse – the book to film adaptation that follows Cécile (Lily McInerny), a young woman spending the summer in a villa in the south of France with her widowed father Raymond (Claes Bang) and his latest love interest, Elsa (Naïlia Harzoune).

NashFilm 2024 Screenplay Competition Semifinalists

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The Nashville Film Festival Screenplay Competition receives over a thousand screenplays every year. Over several months, readers select the best of the best to honor the work of writers across the globe.

It’s an honor to announce this year’s semifinalists, a dedicated and diverse group of artists that have dedicated hours to crafting an entertaining story. Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s competition. Your words have made us laugh, cry, and jump every time we hear an unexpected noise.

-Cat Stewart, Screenplay Competition Manager

Congratulations to the scripts that advanced from quarterfinalists. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see which of these scripts makes it to the final round! The winners will be announced at the 55th Nashville Film Festival taking place Sept. 19-25, 2024.

Comedy Feature Semifinalists
  • Bad Dates and Aliens by Navid Mehrjou
  • Bass Champs by Elizabeth Baquet
  • Boom the Conquerer by Ana R. Dominick
  • Brave John Burns by John Biolsi
  • Cheekbones by Deantre Henderson
  • Dick Nixon: Crisis in Space by Danny Rathburn
  • Down at the Val by Neil Goodchild
  • Emily’s Toy Boy by Paula Smith
  • I’m Begging You to Date Me by Fiona Kida
  • Janice Beside Herself by Laura Jaques
  • Nothing to See Here by Josh Long
  • Our Christmas Anniversary by Gary Templeton
  • Playing Hero by Warren Lane
  • The Formidable Miss Bennet by Alisa Kindsfater
Horror Feature Semifinalists
  • Assimilated by Christopher Guerrero
  • Blue Dreams by Jonathan Samuel
  • Desolation by Frank Kelly
  • Edgeplay by Jason Kaleko
  • House Of The Deaf Man by Henry Harper
  • Indigent by Briana Cox
  • Mars One by Andrew Henderson
  • No Control by Jeff Bower
  • Noctua by Andrew M. Henderson
  • Seeking Sugar Mason by Christopher O’Bryant
  • The Designer by Em Johnson
  • The Knocking At The Marsh by Gina Deangelis
  • The Mantis by Wylie Rush & Jessie Gill
  • Titch by Jody Matzer
  • White Bone by Richard B. Pierre
  • Witchsign by Scott Hawthorne
Drama Feature Semifinalists
  • Aman And Flor Agai

Alberto Barbera on the Return of Erotic Cinema in Venice, U.S. Indie Movies and Netflix Being MIA

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Venice Film Festival artistic director Alberto Barbera says he’s been “toiling for the past nine months like a factory worker on an assembly line at a Chaplinesque pace” to assemble the star-studded lineup he just unveiled that on paper also looks like one of his best. The Lido’s upcoming 81st edition features a geographically balanced […]

2024 TIFF: Valchanov/Grozeva, Nacho Vigalondo, Carlos Marqués-Marcet & Rodrigo Prieto in Platform Programme

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2024 TIFF: Valchanov/Grozeva, Nacho Vigalondo, Carlos Marqués-Marcet & Rodrigo Prieto in Platform Programme

Named after the influential film Platform (2000) by the great “Sixth Generation” master filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke, it’ll soon be a decade since TIFF introduced the Platform section – the fest’s only competition section meant to promote innovative and bold type cinema and comes with a cash award but unfortunately no trophy.

2024 Venice: Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Fabrice du Welz, Asif Kapadia, Errol Morris & Harmony Korine Out of Comp

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2024 Venice: Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Fabrice du Welz, Asif Kapadia, Errol Morris & Harmony Korine Out of Comp

While we might still be on the fence about what is being described as a first-person shooter-type experience in Harmony Korine‘s Baby Invasion, but the Venice Film Festival’s Out of Competition section lineup could be just as daring as the films selected for the competition.

2024 Venice: Avranas, Alex Ross Perry, Rosenberg, Kerekes, Friedland, Neo Sora & Elizabeth Lo in Orizzonti Selections!

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2024 Venice: Avranas, Alex Ross Perry, Rosenberg, Kerekes, Friedland, Neo Sora & Elizabeth Lo in Orizzonti Selections!

The Un Certain Regard section in Venice, recent winners of the Horizons (Orizzonti) section include Gábor Reisz’s Explanation for Everything, Houman Seyyedi’s World War III and Valentyn Vasyanovych’s Atlantis.

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