The Doha Film Institute (DFI) is financing internationally acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair’s latest film based on Mohsin Hamid’s bestselling novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
The second major international production to receive financing from the DFI, the film started shooting this week on location in Atlanta, New York, Lahore, Delhi and Istanbul.
Nair is acclaimed for films such as Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake.
Adapted by Bill Wheeler, Mohsin Hamid and Ami Boghani and produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is a riveting thriller about Changez, a young Pakistani man chasing corporate success on Wall Street in the era of globalisation.
After 9/11 Changez experiences a seismic shift in his own attitude, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.
Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Black Gold) stars in the lead role of Changez alongside actors Kate Hudson (Bride Wars, Nine, Something Borrowed), Liev Schreiber (Salt, X-Men: Origins, The Manchurian Candidate) and Kiefer Sutherland (24).
Also appearing in the film are Nelsan Ellis, Martin Donovan, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Haluk Bilginer and Meesha Shafi.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a Mirabai Films and Cine Mosaic production, marks DFI’s first financing involvement in an independent feature film.
Commenting on The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Nair said: “My father lived in Lahore before the partition of India and Pakistan.
“I am inspired to make a contemporary film about Pakistan, especially in this day and age when the perceived schism between Islamists and the Western world becomes more pronounced each day.
“In Doha Film Institute, I have a like-minded partner who shares a common belief in this story and its ability to affect change, having supported this project from the very beginning. In this day and age to have creative freedom to make a film that is political, timely and multilayered is a gift.”
Hamid is often cited in the media regarding Pakistani politics and culture. He adds, “Right now in Pakistan there is a feeling of intense isolation. So this film means a great deal to me. It is a rare case of artistic collaboration between Pakistanis, Americans, and Indians.
“It tries to humanise what too often is stereotyped. And it tries to break down the walls that separate us, to expand our sense of empathy, and to let us reconnect as artists, as people, and as citizens of a shared planet.”
Executive Director of DFI, Amanda Palmer, commented: “Mira Nair is one of the most recognised filmmakers working today, someone who Qatar has long admired for her talent and commitment to making films that tackle strong subject matters with enduring humanity.
“And with the tenth anniversary year of September 11, the importance of this story cannot be understated. From the moment DFI was introduced to this script, we have believed in the strength of its story and the profound and important message that it conveys, and we’re thrilled to have a stellar cast of Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Riz Ahmed, on board with us to help take it to wider audiences.”
Palmer observed that at the very core of DFI’s film financing mandate is to contribute to world cinema and ensure that great stories continue to be told.
“From that perspective, we hope to provide people in the Mena region with opportunities to be involved in international filmmaking, whether as interns, production staff or on screen talent. We started this process by sending production staff to work on the sets of Black Gold in Tunisia and Qatar. This experience for them and for DFI was transformative, and part of an ongoing multifold strategy to build creative industries in this region, as well as international film relationships.
“With The Reluctant Fundamentalist, we will again send a regional team on-location with Mira’s crew to learn their craft.”
Nair, who moves between Hollywood and independent cinemas, has directed 10 narrative feature films, including Salaam Bombay!, which was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Camera D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and also Monsoon Wedding which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Other team members in the film include cinematographer Declan Quinn (Monsoon Wedding, In America, Rachel Getting Married), costume designer Arjun Bhasin (The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding, Life of Pi), production designer Michael Carlin (The Last King of Scotland, The Duchess, In Bruges), and editor Shimit Amin (Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, Chak de India!).
DFI’s first ventured into international production earlier this year with Arabian epic Black Gold, alongside Quinta Communications.
Shot jointly in Tunisia and Qatar during the Tunisian revolution, and directed by French auteur Jean-Jacque Annaud, Black Gold will world premiere as opening night film at this year’s DTFF, which runs from October 25 to 29.
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