Indian multinational IT services company HCL Technologies and Singapore-based startup Filmwallas jointly organised #ACutBeyond, a global filmmaking competition aimed at empowering independent filmmakers all over the world to tell their stories and showcase their work to a global audience.
The theme of the competition revolved around next-generation technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Cyber Security, Automation, Digital and Analytics, and how these technological advancements are juxtaposed in today’s world and human relationships. The total prize money was USD10,000.
The four winners were selected by a jury panel, consisting of award-winning filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, veteran actor Ashish Vidyarthi, HCL Head of Corporate Marketing Apurva Chamaria and HCL Chief Marketing Officer Matt Preschern.
“#ACutBeyond was a drive to democratise filmmaking and enable every amateur director to pursue the dream of filmmaking,” said Chamaria. “Rapid technological advancements in the realm of filmmaking stand at the forefront of this change, and through this one-of-a-kind partnership with Filmwallas we wanted to be a part of this revolution. HCL was able to crowdsource video content of remarkable quality, showcasing cutting-edge technology as an enabler for unique relationships,” he added.
About 2,000 filmmakers from around the world expressed interest and 70 teams participated in the contest; they went through a mentorship process with many Bollywood experts who guided them to fine-tune their film, from the scripting to production stage.
The Complaint by Mrinal Bahukhandi, which won the first prize, tells the poignant tale of how a Muslim technician and Indian retiree reconcile with old emotional scars over the course of a laptop diagnostic check.
“I asked myself the simple question of the need for technology in our lives. This brought me to the conclusion that technology brings us closer and makes things easier... it is a bridge,” said director Bahukhandi.
The short film, launched in partnership with Hamaramovie.com, on India’s Independence Day (August 15), was widely appreciated and has already garnered more than 80,000 views on YouTube.
The Priceless Art, which depicts the moving narrative of how a small boy raised money for his ailing sister through the power of instant messaging technologies and the kindness of humanity, emerged as first-runner up.
“Most of us are so involved with social media that we forget to stop for a minute and think about the welfare of others,” said director Mohd Asif Hameed. “We can still bring about a huge change with that little piece of technology we carry in our hands and pockets every day.”
These films point towards how ubiquitous technologies—such as cell phones and laptops—when harnessed by the right people and intentions, can have far-reaching social impacts, while other films explored the relationship between newer technologies and human connections.
The team that produced The Hajji clinched second runner-up for their moving story of how a boy employed the power of virtual reality to help his neighbour’s dream of experiencing The Hajj come true.
“Filmmaking itself is a challenge and a short film is like telling a story in a limited time without affecting the moral of the story. Some difficulties during the shooting of the film The Hajji made us more accurate and passionate,” said directors Kushan Shan and Jalpa Joshi.
Sriram Sundar described how the theme of the competition helped “in tickling my mind to work on such a genre which I might have not done generally”. “Filmwallas has helped us to showcase our creation to a great jury which we strongly believe would help us in our journey,” said the director of The 8th Sense.
The other second runner-up, The 8th Sense, was a stellar imagining of how virtual reality and automation could change the way humans live, from the simple action of watering plants to attending interviews with a cybernetic presence. The movies were released on Filmwallas' YouTube channel.
Founded in Singapore in 2015 by former journalist and online editor of Computerworld Singapore and CIO Asia and author of many bestsellers such as Startup Capitals and Iqbal Zafar Anjum, Filmwallas is the world’s first AI-based filmmaking platform supported by more than 20 Bollywood and global film personalities, including Prakash Jha, Nagesh Kukunoor, and Ashish Vidyarthi.
“What makes Filmwallas’ brand solutions unique is its mentorship process. For a long time, brands have looked down upon crowdsourcing for videos because quality becomes an issue,” said Anjum. “Filmwallas makes sure that its contestants go through an enrichment process with input from qualified Bollywood mentors who are experts in their own fields. It’s because of this process that enables us to source high-quality films for brands at a very low cost.”
HCL, the participants and jury members were all praise for Filmwallas’ initiative. “We would definitely recommend Filmwallas as a platform to crowdsource video content. Based out of Singapore, this platform gives you access to talent from across the world,” Chamaria added.
Bahukhandi observed how it was “about time that all facets of filmmaking come under an umbrella” to streamline the process of filmmaking.
“Filmwallas is a much-needed platform to connect a disorganised sector such as the film industry,” said the director of The Complaint.
Currently, the platform has about 1,000 filmmakers from around seven countries.