Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of India's finest filmmakers at the international level, has sold the non-commercial rights of his latest film Nizhalkuthu to an art film circle in the United States.
Nizhalkuthu (Shadow Kill), produced by French filmmaker Joel Farges, deals with the mental turmoil of an old executioner. The film was recently screened at the Manosque Film Festival in France.
According to Adoor, who is back from a tour of Europe, his agreement with the New York-based Global Film Initiative will help popularise Nizhalkuthu across America.
Adoor is the first Indian director to have sold his film to GFI, a new foundation formed to promote cross-cultural understanding through cinema. GFI ensures films from the developing world are viewed regularly at cultural institutions throughout the US. It also provides financial help and distribution opportunities for films under-represented in the US market. GFI also helps expose American high school and college students to quality films.
Under the agreement, GFI will only be entitled to screen Nizhalkuthu in non-commercial film circles. Adoor hopes Nizhalkuthu, which the French film festival termed as 'must-see for upcoming directors' and 'a unique human document,' will make an impact on the huge film-loving community in the US.
Nizhalkuthu -- Adoor's first offering in six years -- is set in the 1940s. In those days, the maharaja ruling the princely state of Travancore had the power to hang those found guilty of a crime. The executioners who would have to carry out his sentence lived in remote villages in Kanyakumari to minimise their contact with the public.
Nizhalkuthu's protagonist is one such executioner. He retired long ago, but his family is undergoing a series of tragedies. The executioner knows his 'fate' is the root cause of his sad plight; he has executed many people and this is their 'curse' upon him. He is plagued by guilt brought about by his profession.
Then, the maharaja orders him to carry out a new execution. The film deals with the executioner's turbulent mind, and his battle with remorse, crime, punishment and justice.
Veteran actor Oduvil Unnikrishnan, who won the Kerala state Best Supporting Actor Award for Adoor's last film Kathapurushan in 1995, plays the protagonist in Nizhalkuthu. The film's remaining cast includes well-known Malayalam actors Nedumudi Venu, Murali, Jagathi Sreekumar and newcomers Rajiv Menon and Reeja Venugopal.