Pan Nalin interview: ‘Last Film Show’ director

“It was exciting news when India chose to send us as an entry,” says director Pan Nalin, whose movie “Last Film Show” was chosen to represent his country at the 95th Academy Awards. It has since been shortlisted as one of 15 potential nominees for Best International Feature. “We make thousands of movies in India. There are all kinds of films with big studios and streamers.” Watch our video interview above.

“Last Film Show” tells the story of nine-year-old Samay (Bhavin Rabari), a young boy who falls in love with the art of filmmaking. He befriends a film projectionist and trades him his lunch to watch movies for free. Samay realizes that in order to pursue his dream, he must leave his small village and everything he loves. Nalin, who wrote the script as well, based portions of Samay’s life experiences on his own.

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“It is also inspired from my childhood friend who was a film projectionist,” the director explains. “The climax was inspired by his life and what happened to him when he lost his job in 2011, when most of the single screens were going digital. Many of them were shutting down to make room for multiplexes. There were at least 200,000 projector operator jobs lost. I was moved by that story.”

Nalin auditioned over 3,000 kids before Rabari was cast in the lead role. “Our casting started with professional child actors,” he says. “He’s in every single frame. It’s normal thinking from a film crew that we need a professional child actor. This is a very demanding role. Those auditions were a big disappointment. Many of the kids are influenced by popular Indian cinema. Everything is over the top, larger than life. All their parents push them to go to TV reality shows. Their idea of acting is so corrupted. Then we thought, let’s risk it. Let’s go where kids rarely see films. That’s where we hit the jackpot. We arrived in the remote countryside and when we met Bhavin Rabari, with his two cows and a buffalo in a government school, there was something about him that was very striking.”

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UPLOADED Jan 11, 2023 11:57 am