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Nandita Das’s ‘Manto’ to be premiered at Cannes Film Festival

The film will be screened in the Un Certain Regard section.

Nandita Das’s biographical drama Manto has been selected in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The Un Certain Regard category typically features 20 films that tell unique stories in non-traditional ways.

The announcement was made today along with the rest of the line-up by festival director Thierry Fremaux in Paris. The 71st edition will be held between May and 19. Cate Blanchett is the president of the festival’s official competition jury.

Un Certain Regard is a competition section separate from the Palme d’Or, with one prize winner announced in the category every year. The jury president this year is Benicio del Toro. The entries in this section are also valid for the FIPRESCI Prize.

Manto will compete with Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, Andréa Bescond and Eric Metayer’s Little Tickles, French-Morrocan director Meyem Benm’Barek’s Sofia, and Ali Abbasi’s Border, among others.

Das’s film traces the career of author Saadat Hasan Manto in Mumbai and Pakistan after the Partition. The movie stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manto, Rasika Dugal as Manto’s wife Safia, Rajshri Deshpande as author Ismat Chughtai, and Tahir Raj Bhasin as Manto’s friend and Hindi film hero Shyam. Also in the cast are Paresh Rawal and Rishi Kapoor.

The poster was unveiled at Cannes in 2017. Das also directed a short film, In Defence of Freedom, as a prelude to Manto.

Indian films that have been previously screened in this section include Gautam Ghose’s Antarjali Yatra (1987), Aribam Syam Sharma’s Ishanou (1990), Shaji N Karun’s Swaham (1994), Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely (2012) and Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan (2015). Murali Nair’s Marana Simhasanam won the Camera d’Or for best first feature in the Un Certain Regard section in 1999.

The festival will open this year with Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-language thriller Everybody Knows, starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darin. Celebrated Swiss-French director Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Livre D’Image, Jafar Panahi’s Three Faces and Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman are among the films competing for the Palme d’or. Other films in the section include Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, David Robert Mitchell’s Under The Silver Lake, Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum, Stephane Brizé’s At War, Lee-Chang Dong’s Burning, Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters and Jia Zhang-Ke’s Ash Is Purest.

Among the films in the special screenings section are Gilles Porte’s documentary The State Against Mandela and The Others, 10 Years in Thailand, which has contributions from Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Wim Wenders’s documentary, Pope FrancisA Man of his Word. Among the confirmed midnight screenings are Joe Penna’s Arctic, and Yoon Jong-Bing’s The Spy Gone North. Fremaux is likely to add a few titles over the next few days.

Netflix will boycott the festival to protest the ban on films produced by streaming platforms from the competition section, Chief Content officer Ted Sarandos told Variety.

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