Asian trio's film at int'l fest
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Asian trio's film at int'l fest

The documentary on Daniel Pearl will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 20:52 IST

India'sMovingPicture Company (MPC) promoted by Ramesh Sharma of New Delhi Times film fame, has teamed up with US-based HBO Documentary Films, London-based Ahmed Jamal’s First Take, and Anant Singh’s company Distant Horizon for a documentary film entitled The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl. The film’s world premiere will be held at a special screening during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April. The film will also be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

The documentary’s debut later this year will coincide with Pearl’s birthday, on October 10.

Narrated by CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour, the documentary is directed and produced by Jamal, Sharma, and Anant Singh. Singh has the worldwide distribution rights for the film.

Sharma says it took two years to make this 90-minute documentary, which tracks the parallel lives of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and his murderer, jihadi Omar Sheikh. Sharma says, “Two years ago, I was doing my research for a film entitled Jihad – The Sword of islam. The film was based on Omar Sheikh. During the course of my research, I came across the fascinating story of Pearl and Sheikh.”

Sharma says that while reading the story, he realised that “Both were extremely educated men who came from privileged backgrounds. Although they both saw the world differently, they seemed to do so with seemingly similar passion and commitment.” Sharma further explains, “Pearl was a humanist, who spent most of his career reporting from the Islamic world on a quest to promote cross-cultural understanding. Sheikh was a militant, who ultimately chose a deeply violent path to express his views. After 9/11, their paths crossed in Pakistan, with tragic consequences.” After his research, Sharma collaborated with Jamal to do the film. The two researched extensively for the film in India, South Asia, England and America. This involved meeting key people associated with Pearl like his wife Mariane, his parents, FBI agents and the Pakistani police who were investigating the case.

Extensive archival footage has also been taken from several media organisations such as Reuters, AP Television News (APTN), Independent Television News (ITN) and the London Times. Refusing to divulge the budget of the film, Sharma said, “This film is one of the most expensive documentary films that has ever been made.” English composer David has composed the music for the film with violin tracks by Itai Shapira, one of the world’s top three violinists.

In addition, the Daniel Pearl Foundation will coordinate worldwide events designed to foster cross-cultural understanding through music and journalism.

The HBO channel has the rights only for the US. The producers are also looking for a worldwide theatrical release.

However, Sharma is not sure about the film being screened in India. “We are looking at both options – theatrical as well as television,” Sharma says.

First Published: Mar 06, 2006 20:01 IST