Ajitpal Singh’s debut feature Fire In The Mountains will be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2021 in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section. The Jar Pictures production is the only Indian title among the 10 movies in this section.

The 82-minute film is “about a mother who toils to save money to build a road in a remote Himalayan village to take her wheelchair-bound son for physiotherapy but her husband believes that a shamanic ritual (Jagar) is the remedy,” a press release stated.

Also selected in the World Cinema Documentary Competition section is the Indian production Writing With Fire, directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh. The synopsis reads: “In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions on the frontlines of India’s biggest issues and within the confines of their own homes, redefining what it means to be powerful.”

Previous documentaries by Thomas and Ghosh include Dilli and the National Film Award-winning Timbuktu.

The cast of Fire in the Mountains includes includes Vinamrata Rai, Chandan Bisht, Sonal Jha and first-time actors Harshita Tewari and Mayank Singh Jaira. Produced by Ajay Rai and Alan McAlex and co-produced by Amit Mehta and Mauli Singh, Fire In The Mountains was previously titled Swizerland.

The story was inspired by a personal incident in the filmmaker’s life, Ajitpal Singh said in a press statement. “The idea of Fire In The Mountains came from a personal tragedy, when my cousin sister Amarjeet Kaur died because her husband didn’t take her to the hospital thinking she was possessed by a ghost,” Singh said. “The film is about the clash of two worldviews – traditional and modern with a strong woman at the heart of it and I hope my film will make people ask some relevant questions about their blind faiths.”

Singh’s short film Rammat-Gammat won a Special Mention at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen in 2018.

Ajitpal Singh.

The Utah-headquartered Sundance Film Festival will be held between January 28 and February 3. The festival has been truncated to a week instead of 10 days because of the coronavirus pandemic. In-person screenings in Utah and other American states will depend on clearance from health authorities, the Hollywood Reporter stated.

The festival will screen 72 titles, including Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut, the race-themed Passing. Other films include Robin Wright’s first feature Land, the Casey Affleck starrer The World to Come, Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland, starring Nicolas Cage, and Ben Wheatley’s virus movie In The Earth.

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