Meet the Artist with Ajipal Singh
FITM- World Premiere Screening
US Time: Sunday, Jan 31, 7:00 PM MST
IST: Monday, Feb 1, 7.30 am
~ Written-directed by Ajipal Singh and produced by Jar Pictures, Fire in the Mountains is the only Indian movie selected among 10 films in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition~
~Earlier titled Swizerland, the film won two awards, ‘Prasad Lab DI’ and ‘Moviebuff Appreciation’ for the best WIP project at 2019 Film Bazaar’s Work-In-Progress Lab~
Mumbai, January, 2021: Self-taught filmmaker Ajitpal Singh’s debut feature as a writer-director, Fire In The Mountains, will have its World Premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival 2021 in the ‘World Cinema Dramatic Competition’ and will have its premiere screening on the early morning of February 1 (IST).
Produced by Jar Pictures, Fire in the Mountains is the only film from Indian and South Asia to be competing among 10 films in the ‘World Cinema Dramatic Competition’, the section which presents the emerging filmmaking talents around the world who offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will be held from 28 January to 3 February. Normally held in Park City, Utah, the festival has opted for virtual edition this year due to Covid-19, combined with the drive-in and socially distanced screenings around the country.
The 82-minute intense and multi-layered family drama, Fire In The Mountains 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.
The film stars Vinamrata Rai in the central role of the mother along with Chandan Bisht and Sonal Jha, introducing first time young actors from Uttarakhand, Harshita Tewari and Mayank Singh Jaira. The Jar Pictures production, Fire In The Mountains is produced by Ajay Rai and Alan McAlex and co-produced by Mauli Singh and Amit Mehta.
Ajitpal Singh whose short film Rammat-Gammat won ‘Special Mention’ at International Short Film Festival of Oberhausen 2018, is excited about Sundance premiere of his debut feature.
The self-taught filmmaker and the writer-director of the film says, “It’s been a difficult year for all of us and I am so glad that it’s ending on a positive note with hopes of vaccine for everyone and on a personal note, I am super thrilled that my first feature, Fire In The Mountains is making its World Premiere at the prestigious Sundance in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Sundance has been a dream since 2012 when my first script was selected for Sundance Mumbai Mantra Script lab and I experienced their love and warmth for independent artists. This dream would have remained a dream if my producer Ajay Rai had not shown faith in me.”
Talking about the inspiration behind the film, Ajitpal says, 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. 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.”
The producer and co-founder of Jar Pictures which has produced award-winning films such as Berlinale winner Killa and Oscar entry from Indian, Liar’s Dice and also commercial hits like Gangs Of Wasseypur 1 and 2, Nil Battey Sannata and Qarib Qarib Single, Ajay Rai says, “We are thrilled to start our film journey at the prestigious Sundance and being the only Indian film in World Cinema Dramatic Competition. This is our second film after Liars’ Dice to be selected at Sundance, after a gap of seven years, and it feels truly special.”
The Jar Pictures producer Alan McAlex who also did individual projects Dangal and Amazon series Made in Heaven as an Executive Producer and was co-producer on A Suitable Boy, says, “We are delighted to end this difficult year on an exciting note with our Sundance premiere. It’s a great joy to be the only Indian movie among 10 films from across the world in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the prestigious international film festival.”
Having promoted indie gems, Mauli Singh produced her award-winning first short film Rammat-Gammat with Drishyam Films. Excited about the Sundance Premiere of her debut feature, the film publicist turned producer says, “Over the past seven years as a publicist, I have passionately promoted some of the best independent films premiering at the top film festivals, all the while harbouring a dream of producing films which will connect with the audiences across the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better start than Sundance for my debut feature as a producer. Fire In The Mountains is our labour of love and I am excited to see how the world audience will connect with it.”
On her collaboration with Jar Pictures, Mauli says, “I worked with Ajay and Alan as their publicist on wonderful indies Killa, Liars Dice and Gurgaon and it’s a joy to collaborate with them as a co-producer on my first feature and learn from the best in the business.”
Artists from several countries have collaborated on the film which includes the veteran French DOP Dominique Colin (who collaborated with many auteur filmmakers including Gaspar Noë and Cédric Klapisch) who shot the film, Simon Price from New Zealand edited the film along with Parikshhit Jha, and the music is composed by Arnaud van Vliet of South Africa. The Indian crew includes the production designer Mausam Aggarwal, sound recordist Kanishk Bhoklay, sound designer Mohandas VP, costume designer Karishma Vyas and casting director Taran Bajaj. Additional dialogues are written by Uttarakhand based actor-writer Sudarshan Juyal.
Earlier titled Swizerland, the film won two awards, ‘Prasad Lab DI’ and ‘Moviebuff Appreciation’ for the best WIP project at 2019 Film Bazaar’s Work-In-Progress Lab. It was also part of NFDC Screenwriters Lab 2018-19 and Marche Du Film 2020’s, Goes to Cannes Section.
For more updates you can follow the film on Social Media handles
About Ajitpal Singh: writer-director
Ajitpal Singh is a self-taught filmmaker living in Mumbai. His greatest passions are writing, reading, cooking, cycling and travelling. After studying chemistry, learning theatre and photography, he chose filmmaking as his calling.
Born in Punjab, Ajitpal Singh was an 8 years old boy when his father, a farmer and ex-army man, ran a cinema hall in Bathinda which suffered huge losses and was shut down during insurgency in Punjab. His family moved to Ahmedabad where his father took up a job of a security guard. Ajitpal Singh grew up in a ghetto amidst poverty and violence and being a Sikh child, he faced a lot of discrimination due to anti Sikh sentiments at that time.
Ajitpal’s first screenplay was part of Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2012, the project also won a Sundance grant. His second screenplay was selected for NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab.
His short film Rammat-Gammat won the ‘Special Mention’ award at the prestigious short film festival of Oberhausen 2018, and was selected in nearly 50 noted international and Indian film festivals including Palm Spring Shorts Fest, Cinekid, MAMI and won six awards. His other short film, Hummingbird which also travelled to many international film festivals won a jury award for best short film in France. Fire In The Mountains (earlier titled Swizerland) is his debut feature as a writer and director.
Ajitpal wrote dialogues for Once Again (available on Netflix), a Germany-India co-production film and worked as an associate director for Gurgaon (available on Netflix) and as an assistant director for Patang (Berlinale 2011).
About Jar Pictures
JAR Pictures founded by Ajay G. Rai and Alan McAlex in 2011 is an Indian motion picture production company based in Mumbai and also provides production services to leading studios in India. They have produced award-winning films, Liar’s Dice (Sundance 2013, India and Official Entry to Oscar), Killa (Berlinale Crystal Bear Winner 2014), Gurgaon, Moothoon, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, and TV Series. Currently, they are producing the feature film of Cannes Winner Sri Lankan director Prasanna Vithanage. Their recent feature project is selected for Berlinale Co-Production market 2019. They have produced critically acclaimed and commercially successful films like Gangs Of Wasseypur 1 and 2, Nil Battey Sannata and Qarib Qarib Single starring Irrfan Khan
The Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute. 2021 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, AT&T, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines® , WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – AMC, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Documentary Plus, GEICO, IMDbPro, Stella Artois®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Zoom; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. sundance.org/festival
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs which are dedicated to developing new work and take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally, are supported largely through contributed revenue. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.