Don Palathara's 'Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam' selected to Moscow film fest competition section

It is the only Indian film featured on the list of 13 films

68-Don-Palathara Beyond black and white: Filmmaker don palathara | Sanjoy Ghosh

Acclaimed filmmaker Don Palathara’s latest film, Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam (Joyful Mystery) has been selected as one of the 13 films that made to the final list of competition section of the prestigious Moscow International film festival—one of the top film festivals in the world with FIAPF accreditation. This is the only Indian film featured on the list. The festival will be held from April 22 to April 29.

The 85-minute-long film, starring Rima Kallingal and Jithin Puthenchery, is a relationship drama shot completely inside a car, with the camera fixed on the dashboard. The film portrays a day in the life of Maria and her boyfriend Jitin. The couple is on their way to a clinic as Maria believes she may be pregnant after having an unprotected sex with her partner. The film’s title is a reference to the first joyful mystery—the annunciation to the Virgin Mary—in the rosary prayer of Catholics.

SOR, filmed in one continuous shot, is a milestone in Indian film history. Such one-shot feature-length films are a rarity in world cinema itself. “I wanted to give a constraint both temporally and spatially for this film. One space, one time and one shot—that was the idea,” Palathara had told THE WEEK in an earlier interview.

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Kallingal and Puthenchery learned by rote each dialogue before the shoot began. The entire film was shot in just six days. Though it was scripted, Palathara gave his actors the freedom to improvise during the takes; he gave dialogue credits to both Rima and Jithin. Five takes were shot, and he turned the best one into the final version.

The Moscow Festival is one of the oldest international film festivals in the world. Founded in 1935, Master filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was chairman of the jury in its opening edition. In 1973, acclaimed filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s debut film Swayamvaram was screened in the competition category of the festival.

Leading world film personalities like Richard Gere, Theo Angelopoulos, Margarethe von Trotta, Alan Parker, Gleb Panfilov, Fred Schepisi, Luc Besson, Geraldine Chaplin, Héctor Babenco, Pavel Lungin, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Kim Kiduk headed the jury of the festival over the past 20 years. The selection committee of the upcoming festival is headed by film critic and historian Andrei Plakhov.

SOR is Don’s second film which is getting selected to this festival. His previous film, 1956, Central Travancore was screened in its last edition held in October 2020. The screening at the MIFF will be the international premiere of the film.