Thursday, March 02, 2006


World's Fastest Film Shoot, Inspired by Schiavo Case

Acclaimed Indian film maker Jayaraj has just completed post production on Wonder (Atbhutam), a film, he says, was inspired by the Terri Schiavo right-to-life case which captivated the United States (and the world), in 2005. However, while the subject matter here is certainly timely and interesting, the unique and compelling aspect of this production, for me, is the fact that Jayaraj completed shooting the 74-minute feature film in December, in just two hours and 14 minutes! (Documentation has been filed with The Guinness Book of World Records for consideration as "the fastest film shoot in the history of cinema.") Wonder tells the story of an Indian-born playwright, living in the U.S., who is suffering from pancreatic cancer. His wife, an attorney, supports his wish to die; while his parents (who are unaware that a "right-to-die" even exists) oppose their son's wish, when they arrive at the hospital. Jayaraj chose an Oregon hospital as the setting for the film, since the state's 1997 "Death with Dignity Act" made physician-assisted suicide legal. The director reportedly approached several film studios in the United States and Great Britain five years ago with a story on assisted suicide. But, it was the Terri Schiavo case that convinced Jayaraj the movie's time had come. (Last year's winner of the Best Picture Oscar, Million Dollar Baby, also had a similar theme.) The Indian film industry is far more prolific these days than in the Untied States, and Jayaraj has been known to make up to two films a year himself. The globalization of cinema is greater than it's ever been and new voices in cinema are no longer regulated to the U.S. and Europe. There was a time when the great filmmaker Satyajit Ray (who was awarded an honorary Oscar just weeks before he died) seemed to be the sole voice in Indian filmmaking. But that time has passed, and film makers such as Jayaraj, combined with advanced technology, now allows visions to be produced from around the world in, well, two hours and 14 minutes.

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