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Shadows Of Time

Nine years after terror struck London, Sambit Banerjee found a story that would touch people’s hearts. His Sundance journey is ample proof that it really did.

Sambit Banerjee
Tue, Mar 11 2014

About Sambit

Coming from Kolkata, Sambit has a passion for creativity using moving image. His profession of being a management consultant didn’t deter him from being sensitive to people’s emotions.

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I had the kernel of a story for quite some time. It was based on the belief that terror doesn't have a religion. Unfortunately, we live in a time when atrocities like 9/11 and 7/7 happened. Naturally the attitude of the West towards Muslims has changed. But all Muslims are not terrorists and all terrorists are not Muslims!

When 7/7 happened, 52 people died. They were from different nationalities. There were at least half a dozen innocent Muslims who lost their lives. Muslim families lost their loved ones to terrorists who belonged to the same faith. So as a filmmaker, I thought there was a powerful story that could be told - a very humane story which everybody could relate to.

If you watch the movie you see a Muslim woman grieving at the loss of her husband who died in the 7/7 attack on London. But it doesn’t ever say if the man who died was one of the bombers or one of the 52 innocent victims. It's open to interpretation.

When I saw the brief for Sundance London, it was like serendipity. (Sundance London presents a cross-section of films fresh from Sundance Film Festival – a mix of documentary and narrative features, made by first-time and established directors, and short films from around the globe.)

The topic for this year exactly matched the concept I had in mind. The brief goes like this: "As the world around us changes rapidly, it seems we are constantly striving to either get ahead or get by. This year we are looking for stories about moving forward in life, love or loss and the pursuit of what makes us inspired to keep going. Sometimes these are happy stories and sometimes they are poignant, but they always change the way we look at the world."

Unfortunately I saw it three days prior to submission deadline, so had to script, shoot and edit over the weekend to submit it on Monday.

Sundance film made for less than £50

The deadline for submission was Monday, the 3rd of March. It was a mad dash to the equipment store to rent the essentials on the Friday before. We could only manage three lights and a video tripod at such a short notice.

Our editor, Shreya Basu worked for free and even lent her camera and lenses. Kasturi Banerjjee used her own clothes in the film and we shot in her house overnight. On Saturday morning we shot at the 7/7 memorial at Hyde Park. Our French colleague Fabrice worked on post production from Paris using Skype and we pulled in all nighters on Saturday and Sunday. It was the craziest and perhaps most satisfying 72 hours of my life.

Due to the lack of time and equipment, there are some obvious flaws on the film. But it has had over 3000 views on the festival page in less than a week which goes to show that if a film is made from the heart, people are prepared to forgive you for technical glitches.

The film was submitted five minutes before deadline and I'm really glad that it got selected. It is currently placed second based on viewer votes, out of the 250 films which got selected. Voting ends on Monday, 17th March at 6PM. One can visit to watch the film and vote for it. If we get enough votes in the next one week, an Indian film might just win the award this year.

What’s next

I'm really excited with the response that Shadows of Time has received. We've sent it to Cannes and by end of this month will know if it is selected. We're planning to make a slightly extended cut of the film and fix some bad shot in production before sending it to other well-known festivals. Also, we are back to the drawing board with a different script and currently finalising the schedule to shoot it.

Cast & Crew

I'm essentially a movie buff. Coming from Kolkata, I grew up with a healthy dose of Satyajit Ray and graduated to world cinema when I was a teenager. A Management Consultant by profession, I’m a regular at the British Film Institute and many other film circles. On an average I watch 10 films a week. So taking the plunge and becoming a filmmaker was only a matter of time. I believe all human beings are instinctively storytellers and what medium you choose differs from person to person. I prefer moving images.

Kasturi Banerjjee, the leading character in our film is a part-time actor and a full time mother of a 3 year old (Yug Banerjee, who also stars in the film!). She has a lot of Bollywood films and Indian soaps to her credit. You can see her do a cameo in the upcoming Hindi comedy 'Gang of Ghosts'.

Sauvik Banerjjee plays Kasturi's husband in the film. He plays the same role in real life too. Sauvik is a Senior Manager with Accenture in London and this is his first acting stint.

Shreya Basu is a Graphic Designer in London and a film buff.

Fabrice Di Cicco is a VFX artist in Paris.

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