V S Kundu
Artistic Director, CIFF
Senior Programmer and Head of Press & Publicity
Programmer and Programming Manager
Head, Children's Sections
Head, Art & Design
Riyah P. Ghuman
Ajitpal Singh is a self-taught filmmaker living in Mumbai. Born in Punjab, Ajitpal was a young boy when his father’s cinema in Bathinda suffered huge losses during the Punjab insurgency of the 1980s. The family had to move to Gujarat, where they lived amid poverty and violence. Ajitpal overcame these early barriers to study chemistry, theatre and photography, before choosing filmmaking to express himself creatively.
His first feature film which he wrote and directed, Fire in the Mountains (2021), premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema – Dramatic competition. It went on to play at more than 30 film festivals around the world and won numerous awards. FITM was on the list of NY Times’ best films of 22. Ajitpal directed his debut web series Tabbar (2021) which is streaming on SonyLIV and was ranked highly in various Indian ‘Best of 2021’ lists – it came in fifth in Variety’s Best International Shows of 2021. In 2018, his short film Rammat Gammat won honours at the prestigious Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and is now available to watch on YouTube.
Ajitpal is currently engaged in developing a series set in Mumbai and two feature films, continuing his journey of creating impactful cinema.
After successively working as a classical musician, artistic director and CFO for a classical record label, Jérôme Paillard produced alongside Daniel Toscan du Plantier at Erato Films over a dozen feature films by such famous directors as Satyajit Ray, Mehdi Charef, Souleymane Cissé, Maurice Pialat, Jean-Charles Tachella…
He then served the Festival de Cannes from 1995 to 2022 as Executive Director of the Marché du Film overseeing the development and management of what is now heralded the world’s leading film market.
He has also been the co-director of Ventana Sur, the first market specialized in Latin-American films, since its creation in Buenos Aires in 2010. Paillard is also the founder of cinando.com, a leading online resource, communication and screening platform for the industry.
He now consults for events, film and business projects. He is also President of the ACM Distribution Commission at CNC and mediates in audio-visual industry disputes. Paillard has participated in several commissions at CNC and SACEM, has been a professor at the ESCP-EAP, the INA SUP, the Universities of Avignon and Lausanne, and is Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
In a second life, he is also an aircraft commercial pilot and flight instructor.
Julian Friedmann is co-owner of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency and was the publisher of ScriptWriter magazine, which became the premier magazine for screenwriters in the UK and Europe. At the agency, he represents both book and scriptwriters and also acts as Executive Producer for and with clients.
Julian is the author of the Make Money Screenwriting series (an updated version of the previous How to Make Money Scriptwriting), co-author of The Insider’s Guide to Writing for Television, and editor of two volumes on Writing Long-Running Television series.
He has taught at universities and film schools all over the world. He designed the MA in Television Scriptwriting at De Montfort University, and PILOTS (for developing long-running television series) for the EU MEDIA Programme.
In India, Julian has led impactful scriptwriting workshops for NFDC and Cinevesture, sharing invaluable insights into the intricacies of the scriptwriting business, and leaving a lasting impact on aspiring storytellers in the country.
He has been on Emmy and Grierson Juries and is a Senior Advisor to the London Screenwriting Festival.
Founder of Jugni Films LLP and Loudspeaker Media, Mauli Singh is an independent film producer and publicist with a passion to discover and nurture new storytellers with a distinct voice. Her passion for cinema propelled her evolution from a film journalist to publicist, festival consultant, programmer and producer. As a publicist, she has profiled handpicked indie films and filmmakers and also helped them find an audience in a country where such an ecosystem doesn’t exist. She produced the Oberhausen winner short film Rammat Gammat and the internationally acclaimed feature Fire In The Mountains, which premiered in the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition and is now streaming on Sony LIV. After a successful stint as the Creative Head at Matchbox Shots, Mauli is currently developing projects for her production house.
Harinder Sandhu, socially known as Hydra, is a distinguished professional with a remarkable 23-year career in children’s theatre, specialising in crafting English musicals. Her versatility extends beyond the stage, as she conducted interviews and has also acted in film, television and advertising, showcasing her talent across various mediums. Fluent in English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu, Hydra not only connects with diverse audiences but also serves as an effective educator and mentor in acting, language, and subtext. Moreover, Hydra’s commitment to fostering cultural exchange and understanding is evident in her collaboration with organisations like Ajoka Theatre in Lahore, where she has directed productions aimed at promoting peace and harmony between India and Pakistan. Hydra’s multifaceted expertise, artistic vision, and dedication to social change make her a truly impactful figure in the world of performing arts.
In the world of design, where creativity meets precision, Anuja Lath emerges as a trailblazer—a visionary known for seamlessly blending art and engineering to create aesthetic marvels.
Anuja’s journey is a kaleidoscope of experiences that converge into a singular passion—design. A student of design at the School of Art, Chandigarh, Anuja embarked on a journey that transcended traditional boundaries, ultimately establishing her as an Aesthetic Engineer. Starting as a design student, she ventured into advertising, played a pivotal role in taking newspapers online during India’s internet revolution, to designing and executing a 12000 sq feet house on a 3 acre farm, running a successful digital design studio and now a pottery studio that hosts pottery learning retreats with renowned international potters.
As an Aesthetic Engineer, Anuja’s love for innovation resonates across various media. She designs and hand builds the most unique lifestyle ceramics that become part of an annual ceramic showcase at Aura.
With Anuja, the terms ‘design & creativity’ go beyond their literal meaning—it’s a commitment to shaping the world of design with simplicity, beauty, and an enduring sense of purpose.
Hailing from Punjab, Riyah’s always had a keen interest in the arts from a very young age. To turn her passion into a career, she went on to study post-graduation in Film, TV, and Video Production at the Xavier Institute of Communications in Mumbai.
With a decade-long experience in the Indian Film & TV industry, Riyah has undertaken roles as an Executive in Content Management (Production & Development), Continuity & Script Supervisor and Associate Producer. Her professional portfolio encompasses projects such as Commando 2, Cobalt Blue (a Netflix Original Film), Drishyam 2, The Diplomat (scheduled to release in March 2024) and Leila (a Netflix Original Series), among various others.
Furthermore, Riyah has garnered experience as a Programming Coordinator for Film Markets. Her first engagement in this capacity transpired with the National Film Development Corporation during Film Bazaar 2016, where she came on board as a Programmer for the Co-Production Market. She undertook responsibilities of curating, evaluating, selecting, coordinating and managing meetings for the projects. To date, she has contributed to 3 editions, the most recent being the online version of 2021.
Presently, Riyah holds the position of Head of Content Management at Cinevesture, concurrently holding the designation of a certified Intimacy Coordinator.
Mr Varinder Singh Kundu superannuated in December 2022 as an Indian Administrative service officer of the 1986 batch, working then as Additional Chief Secretary and Financial Commissioner of Revenue in the State of Haryana. At present, he is Chairman of the Haryana Revenue Commission.
He has a deep interest in the fine arts, cinema and other visual arts, and is a renowned photographer whose pictures have won several international and national awards in photographic Salons and have been featured in many exhibitions. He has been experimenting with sculpture in mixed media for several years and has been working in wood, stone and metal to find the right expression for his artistic ventures.
He worked as Director General of the Films Division of India, the premier State organisation for the promotion of non-fiction cinema in India, in Mumbai from 2012 to 2015. During this time, he was also the Director of the Mumbai International Film Festival, India’s premier film festival for Documentary, animation and short films. He produced over 200 documentary films during his tenure, and the Films Division of India won a dozen international and over 30 National awards during his tenure. He also set up the National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai during his tenure in the Films Division. He also served as the Vice-Chancellor of the State University of Performing and Visual Arts at Rohtak, which runs a prestigious graduation program in cinema, fine arts, design and architecture.
He chaired the Film Policy Committee of the State of Haryana, which formulated the innovative film policy of the State adopted in January 2019. He has been associated with many film festivals as a jury and resource person and is also a patron of the Shimla International Film Festival held annually at Shimla.
His engagement with the audio-visual arts spans across Photography, Cinema and Sculpture in mixed media.
An alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India, Bina Paul is an award-winning film editor whose works have been presented at numerous international events. She has served as the artistic director of the International Film Festival of Kerala, shaping it into one of India’s most important film events. She is presently the joint president of NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema) and is a founding member of the Women in Cinema Collective, and Program Head for the Dharamshala International Festival. As a Board Member of the IAWRT, Chapter India, she is the Festival Director of the 19th Asian Women’s Film Festival.
Monica Gyamlani has been programming and curating since 2017. With an MA from the National Film and Television School, UK delivered in partnership with the British Film Institute, her programming portfolio includes the Dharamshala International Film Festival among several South Asian Film Festivals. She has been an advisor and screener for London’s Film Africa Festival and Sundance Film Festival to name a few. She curated a panel discussion for Frames of Representation by the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), UK and several more for Brands & Entertainment (B&E) a conference curated by Kommune, India. She served as Senior Programmer for the Knowledge Series section (which dealt with conversations) at Film Bazaar, South Asia’s largest film market.
Content development remains an area of interest for Gyamlani as she has observed the creative development of many projects through several labs, a production house and Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market. Gyamlani is interested in negotiating with culture through the medium of film.
Namrata Joshi has over 30 years of experience in journalism having worked in organisations like The Economic Times, TV Today, India Today, Outlook and The Hindu, specialising in writing on cinema, music, art, culture, society and lifestyle in general. She was the winner of India’s National Award for Best Film Critic in 2004.
For the past three years, as an independent journalist, she has been contributing articles on cinema to publications as varied as The Wire, The Times of India, Firstpost, Open, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Khaleej Times and National Herald.
Currently, she is a consulting editor with The New Indian Express and a freelance film critic with Screen International UK.
A member of the India chapter of FIPRESCI, the international federation of film critics based in Munich, she has been a member of the Fipresci critics’ juries at several international festivals, like the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Transylvania International Film Festival, Cluj, Cairo International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) and Aurangabad International Film Festival. She has also been on the juries at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK). She has extensively covered international film festivals like Cannes, TIFF, Sundance, Rotterdam, Berlinale, Pingyao, Macao and the Red Sea International Film Festival, Jeddah.
She has been on the selection committee for films at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa and IFFK.
Having had a sustained and in-depth engagement with films, particularly independent cinema, she decided to dip her feet into film curation in 2021 and has been a programmer with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) for the past four years.
She was the winner of the Charles Wallace India Trust-Iqbal Sarin Memorial fellowship in 2004 as part of which she was associated with the Department of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, to pursue independent research on the project: the changing themes and concerns of the British-South Asian diaspora cinema. She has also been the winner of the British Chevening Scholarship for Indian Journalists in 1999.
Having contributed to several anthologies on Indian cinema, she came out with her first book in 2019. Reel India: Cinema off the Beaten Track, published by Hachette, is a journey through the interiors of the country, intimately chronicling little-known accounts about the nation’s incessant obsession with the movies.