Mira Nair's THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST to open Venice Film Festival

By Rajesh Kumar Singh, Glamsham Editorial

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST directed by filmmaker Mira Nair will open the 69th Venice Film Festival that starts on 29th August and ends on 8th September 2012. The film screens out of competition and stars Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Martin Donovan, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi. It is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher as a Mirabai Films and Cine Mosaic production and financed by Doha Film Institute. The film was shot in the cities of Lahore, Delhi, Istanbul, New York and Atlanta. K5 International is handling international rights with Hal Sadoff for DFI and Bart Walker of Cinetic handling North America.

Based on the eponymous best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid, published in 2007 and translated into 25 languages, THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST is a riveting international political thriller that follows the story of a young Pakistani man chasing corporate success on Wall Street who ultimately finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family's homeland.

The director of the 69th Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbera, says, "It is a choice that intends to highlight the growing role of female creativity in all spheres of culture and contemporary society. Mira Nair has made an exemplary film adaptation of a novel ... With great sensitivity, subtlety and remarkable sense of cinematic narrative, the director is never reluctant to take a difficult stand, inspired by profound ethical and moral reasons that, although choosing to face reality, still reject its compromises and aberrations."

Mira Nair was born in India and educated at Delhi University and at Harvard. Her debut feature film, SALAAM BOMBAY! (1988) won international critical acclaim, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988. It won the Camera D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a BAFTA Award. Her next film, MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991), an interracial love story between an Indian woman and an Afro-American, was presented at the Venice Film Festival. Subsequent films include THE PEREZ FAMILY (1995), about an exiled Cuban family in Miami, and KAMA SUTRA: A TALE OF LOVE, a story set in India during the 16th century. In 1998 Nair directed MY OWN COUNTRY based on Dr. Abraham Verghese's best-selling memoir about a young immigrant doctor dealing with the AIDS epidemic. In the summer of 2000, Nair shot MONSOON WEDDING, a story of a Punjabi arranged marriage, winner of the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival. MONSOON WEDDING also won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and opened worldwide to tremendous critical and commercial acclaim. Nair's next feature was an HBO original film, HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS (2002). The film received great critical acclaim and the highest ratings for HBO, garnering a Golden Globe for Uma Thurman and two Emmy Awards for Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara. In May 2003, Nair helmed the Focus Features production of the Thackeray classic, VANITY FAIR, in which Reese Witherspoon plays the lead role of Becky Sharp. The film was premiered at the 61st Venice Film Festival. In 2005 Nair directed THE NAMESAKE, based upon the novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Nair joined a group of 11 renowned filmmakers, each commissioned to direct a film that was 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame long. Nair's film is the true story of a mother's search for her son who did not return home on that fateful day. In 2007 she produced with her company, the New York based Mirabai Films, AIDS JAAGO, a collection of four short films about the AIDS epidemic in India. In 2008 she directed HOW CAN IT BE?, an episode from the Movie 8, a series of eight short films centered on the eight Millennium Development Goals. In 2009 Nair directed a short film starring Natalie Portman and Irrfan Khan, that was included in NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU, an anthology film consisting of eleven short films, each by a different director. In 2009 she also directed AMELIA, a biographical film on the life of Amelia Earhart, starring two-times Academy Award winner Hilary Swank.

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