Indian actress Tillotama Shome will be part of the prestigious competition jury at the upcoming third edition of The International Film Festival & Awards, Macau.
Most significantly, Shome will rub shoulders with legends like Paul Schrader (legendary screenwriter known for works like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull), Mabel Cheung (director of A Tale of Three Cities), Paul Currie (who helmed Hacksaw Ridge and Rampart) and Chen Kaige – who will lead the team.
Shome is pretty well known in India, and has played a variety of unforgettable characters, beginning as Alice in Mira Nair's 2001 Monsoon Wedding – a film I consider to be the director’s best.
But it was Anup Singh's 2013 Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost that catapulted Shome to the higher echelons of fame. As Kanwar, she is the fourth daughter of Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan), a Partition refugee who makes a home in India. Singh is very unhappy that he cannot beget a son, and so he brings up Kanwar as a boy, pushing him to wear a turban. But when Kanwar falls in love with a girl (Raskia Duggal), Singh's plan begins to slip into murky waters.
Shome was last seen in Rohena Gera's Sir, which clinched a Critic's Week Grand Prize at Cannes last May. Like in Monsoon Wedding, Shome essays a maid in Sir, but when she begins to get fond of her master (who has been stood up just before his marriage), social barriers start to raise their ugly head. A wonderful performance by Shome that made the movie eminently enjoyable.
Born in Kolkata, she was part of theatre groups for several years before Nair spotted her. It was really a take-off for Shome, whose journey thereafter got only more exciting: Deepa in Shadows of Time by Florian Gallenberger, a nun in the Australian work, The Waiting City (by Claire McCarthy), a social worker in Italo Spinelli's Gangor (based on Mahashweta Devi's novel) and an arguably breakthrough piece of acting in Dibakar Banerjee’s political thriller, Shanghai. Shome was also seen in Konkana Sen Sharma's A Death in the Gunj.
Chen is the only director from China to have won the Palm dÓr at Cannes with his 1993 Farewell My Concubine. He shot into the limelight with his Yellow Earth (1984). Set against the backdrop of the Yellow River Valley, the film was a grand epic of the past and the future of the Chinese nation, and was both a local boxoffice bonanza and, significantly, an international highlight after the country opened up its movies for overseas exhibition.
Chen was the first Chinese auteur to have entered the Palm dÓr race at Cannes in 1988 with King of the Children. He returned to Cannes in 1991 with Life on a String. Finally, Farewell My Concubine won him the Palm d'Or.
His distinguished filmography includes The Big Parade (1985), Temptress Moon (1996), The Emperor And The Assassin (1999), Together (2002), The Promise (2005), Forever Enthralled (2008), Sacrifice (2010), Caught In The Web (2012), Monk Comes Down The Mountain (2015) and last year’s award-winning Tang Dynasty epic, Legend Of The Demon Cat (2017).
The Macau festival will run from December 8 to 14, and the competition is dedicated to the first and second films of directors from across the globe.