Pan Nalin on Last Film Show making Oscars shortlist: ‘We hope we broke some kind of a jinx’
Filmmaker Pan Nalin’s Gujarati feature Last Film Show is one of 15 films selected from around the world for the International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards. He spoke about being selected for the next round at the Oscars.
Ever since the news broke that Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show (Chhello Show) had been shortlisted to advance to the next round of voting in the International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards, the filmmaker has not got much sleep. The Gujarati film released in India in October after premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021. (Also read: Last Film Show shortlisted for Oscars in Best International Feature Film category)
The semi-autobiographical film is about a young boy sneaking into a single screen theatre and learning about cinema from his friend, the projectionist. It features newcomer Bhavin Rabari as Samay who also discovers heartbreak as the technology shifts from film reel to digital, making the old way of cinema obsolete.
The filmmaker spoke about the excitement that has spread amongst the cast and crew since the film was shortlisted. The messages have been pouring in from around the world. Last Film Show becomes the first Indian film to move forward in this category after the Aamir Khan-starrer Lagaan in 2002. He told Hindustan Times that he was surprised that it took this long, “I was always under the impression some other films moved forward. I remembered that for two decades no [Indian] film has been shortlisted. Just hearing that in itself, is like 'wow', that's quite an amazing thing, especially in our country which produces 2,000 movies a year. In a small tiny way, to be a part of the history of Indian cinema and Oscars is quite amazing. We hope we broke some kind of a jinx.”
Pan went on to add that most of the Academy members who have watched the film have related to it in some way or another. There is a universal feeling of remembering their own first-time movie going experience. But he also added some feedback about the coming-of-age film was unexpected. “Some of the screenings we had in New York were quite amazing. Most of the Wall Street people said this is the best movie about entrepreneurs we have ever seen, [about] leadership qualities and how to work in a group. They said everyone dealing in the New York Stock Exchange must watch Last Film Show,” he said.
It was interesting for him to see how different people interpreted the film, seeing Samay’s spirit of hope and how to succeed at his dream. But overall, he felt Last Film Show has managed to touch people’s emotions. He shared, “[They] could believe in the story because everything is related in terms of film, food, friendship and family. In a way, it has the universal tone, which people seem to relate, even though the story is happening, inspired from my own childhood in a remote part of Kathiadwad. It seems to echo some kind of a universal code within it.”
Since its premiere last year, the film has been reaching out to the widest possible audience, much to Pan’s delight. “You always dream that it must reach audiences,” he stated, happy that distributors were taking the film to countries like Spain, Germany, Japan, and Italy.
When Netflix released the film in India and South Asia, messages about the film began coming in from all corners, like Bhutan and Ladakh as well. “First of all, we did not expect that we will ever be the FFI [Film Federation of India] selection, from the jury, to represent India, because there were so many popular movies which were competing. There is a whole lot of star power. There is a passion driven audience who only wanted a certain kind of cinema, so we never even thought... but once we were shortlisted, we already knew the distributors are loving the film. We had won half a dozen audience awards worldwide so we knew there is something universal about it and this movie should speak to the Oscar jury members, so we made sure they watch it. We didn't create any hype. We just stayed true to this film and they appreciated that.”
The team plans on showing Last Film Show to as many Academy members as possible in cities around the world. Pan, actor Bhavin, producer Dheer Momoya and music composer Cyril Morin were already part of an Academy Conversations panel held to showcase movies up for consideration. The question-and-answer session is also available for members to view. The final nominations are going to be announced on January 24, 2023 and the awards ceremony will be held on March 12, 2023.