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Victoria Film Festival 2011 Interview - "The Market" director Rama Rau

The Market - At Victoria Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

"A slum in Chennai, India. Home of the discarded, the starving – and now, also the home of a desperate tsunami refugee camp, on the outskirts of an indifferent city. Out here, survival means selling a kidney. Hema, a young mother of two, wants to sell her kidney so she can pay off the crippling debts of her family. A broker tells Hema she’ll get $2500 for her kidney. If she sells she will be the fifth member of her family to sell a kidney for an amount that represents several years’ wages. Across the world in Nanaimo, Canada. Forty year old single mom Sandra’s kidneys are failing and she has been on a waiting list for 5 years now, for a new kidney. Her condition has left her chained to a dialysis machine, four times a day, every day, if she is to live. Two different people. Two journeys. With one end. To find a kidney, someone has to lose one. The Market follows individual stories that explore the larger issues surrounding the organ trade - and looks at these issues from both a Western point of view as well as from the point of view of people selling their organs. What are the ethics of organ buying and selling? And, what would we ourselves do if we were forced into a similar dilemma? Buy. Or sell?" -- Director Rama Rau on "The Market", which screens at this year's Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first film at the Victoria Film Festival? Tell me about your festival experience, and if you plan to attend Victoria for the film’s screenings.

Yes, this is the first time. I’ve never been and sadly, won’t be attending this year.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and what led you to the industry.

I trained in film in Mumbai, India. When I moved to Canada, I started getting interested in documentaries and now it’s a passion of mine.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

The camera person and I spent almost three months in the slums of India, researching, meeting and talking to people so when we finally start filming, they’ll ignore the camera. We shot it on HD but with a very small camera and crew as we were going into small homes in the slums. I wanted the film to be underlit and very real. For the look of the film, I had decided it should look cinematic rather than video and we shot it with that in mind. Just because we have a tragic story unfold, that doesn’t mean it should look ugly. Right from the beginning, I was sure I wanted to explore this all too human story with poetry, sensitivity and patience.

Out of the entire production, what was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Also, what was the most pleasurable moment?

The most difficult aspect was to find a Canadian character who was willing to talk about wanting to buy a kidney. The most pleasurable moment was when I took the Canadian women to meet the Indian women and to see their reaction and get it all on camera.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

I get my inspiration from life around me. As for inspiration, I watched "Nerakhoon: The Betrayal" and also asked my DP to watch it. I love the epic story in that film.

How has the film been received at other festivals or screenings? Do you have any interesting stories about how this film has screened before? What do you think you will expect at the film’s screenings at Victoria?

The film had its World Premiere at IDFA in Amsterdam to full house screenings and was received very well. I hope festival audiences in Victoria like it and are provoked into thinking, wondering and ultimately, donating their organs.

If you weren’t making movies, what other line or work do you feel you’d be in?

I’d be a novelist or short story writer.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

Media coverage and good reviews can make or break a film. Especially for documentaries that don’t have a large publicity budget, word of mouth is created by media and that’s what drives people to see a film.

If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

The Tuchinski in Amsterdam.

If you could offer a nickel’s worth of free advice to someone who wanted to make movies, what nuggets of wisdom would you offer?

Tell your own stories because no one else will.

What do you love the most about film and the filmmaking business?

Every film is a new challenge, every day is a new day.

What would you do or say to someone who is talking or being disruptive during a movie?

I’d politely ask them if they have any problems and request that they respect the film.

A question that is easy for some but not for others and always gets a different response: what is your favourite film of all time?


"The Market" screens today, 4:30pm at Empire Capitol 6 cinemas.

This is one of the official selections in this year’s Victoria Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to

Be sure to follow instant happenings of VFF ’11 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #vicfilmfestival is the official hashtag.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 02/11/11 03:39:58
last updated: 02/11/11 04:57:13
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