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Discovering Desire: Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal’s Debut Production Film ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ to Premier at Sundance 

Discovering Desire: Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal’s Debut Production Film ‘Girls Will Be Girls’ to Premier at Sundance 

  • Also screening at the prestigious film festival include Indian eco-doc “Nocturnes,” and Bhutanese filmmaker Arun Bhattarai’s “Agent of Happiness.”

Bollywood actors Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal’s debut production venture “Girls Will Be Girls,” is scheduled to premier at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Directed by Shuchi Talati, the film will be screened under the World Dramatic Feature category. 

The festival will be held from Jan. 18 to 28, and marks the first with Eugene Hernandez at the helm as festival director. The festival had over 17,000 submission, and like last year, select titles, including all competition titles, will be made available online.

“Girls Will Be Girls” revolves around 16-year-old Mira who discovers desire and romance in a strict boarding school nestled in the Himalayas. “But her sexual, rebellious awakening is disrupted by her mother who never got to come of age herself,” says a synopsis of the film On the festival website. Malayalam actor Kani Kusruti (“Pada”) is playing one of the leads. The film marks the debut of emerging actors Preeti Panigrahi and Kesav Binoy Kiron who also have lead roles. 

Talati told Variety that she’s “this selection is a huge honor for my first feature,” and that she “couldn’t have imagined a better home than Sundance.’ She hoped that the selection “also means the film will now reach more people because it’s for everyone. I mean, who hasn’t struggled with loving and hating someone at the same time?”

Also screening at the festival are two documentaries with Indian connection in the World Cinema Documentary Competition — Anupama Srinivasan’s “Nocturnes,” and Bhutanese filmmaker Arun Bhattarai’s “Agent of Happiness.”

Set in the Eastern Himalayas, “Nocturnes” sees “two curious observers shine a light on a secret universe, transporting audiences to a rarely-seen place where moths help knit together an important ecosystem,” according to the ec doc’s synopsis. The duo’s latest documentary, Flickering Lights, competed in the International Competition at the 2023 edition of IDFA, where it took the top prize for cinematography.

Co-directed by Dorottya Zurbó, and produced by Noémi Veronika Szakonyi and Máté Artur Vincze, “Agent of Happiness” follows two happiness ggents, Amar and Gunaraj, “who are like an odd couple, the Bhutanese Laurel and Hardy,” the film’s synopsis says. While Gunaraj is a serious family man, Amar is a relentless romantic, who dreams about finding a wife. “His day job is to document happiness in others’ lives while he is in search of his own,” the synopsis adds. 

Organizers told The Hollywood Reporter that this festival “is the most in the history of the festival. International submissions significantly outpaced those of U.S. productions. In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford said that since its first edition in 1985, the festival “has aimed to provide a space to gather, celebrate, and engage with risk-taking artists that are committed to bringing their independent visions to audiences.” Noting that “the festival remains true to that goal to this day, Redford noted that “it continues to evolve, but its legacy of showcasing bold work that starts necessary conversations continues with the 2024 program.”

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