‘In Retreat’ Explores Themes of Belonging and Home – HAF

HAF work in progress project “In Retreat” is a deeply personal project for debutant Syed Maisam Ali Shah.

A graduate of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Shah made several globally seen shorts before embarking upon his fiction feature debut “In Retreat.”

In the film, a man returns to his hometown after many years and undergoes a one-night pilgrimage.

“We were allowed and encouraged to make our own personal films [at the FTII],” Shah told Variety. “I made a couple of shorts there as part of the course and a kind of inner artistic journey began for me there over a period of five years and I hope to continue that engagement in my other films as well. I also got the idea of ‘In Retreat’ as my first long feature there as well.”

“This idea has been there with me for a while and I tried with couple of different drafts as well till I reached a draft where it felt that it can be realized,” said Shah. “I always think and struggle with themes of home, belonging, insider, outsider, which has lead to this plot for ‘In Retreat.’ There are no clear cut answers which I know, but while doing cinema I just hope to give some small spaces to unknown characters of the night inside the film.”

Produced by Shah and Abhishek Kherotia for Varsha Films, the project is budgeted at $177,300 and has secured $59,800 of it.

“I’m really thankful for HAF for selecting this kind of a project which is not like very grandeur but personal and minimal,” says Shah. “Here we hope to find funds and partners to finish the rest of the important post-production processes and guidance to take the project further to places.”

“Right now, we are focused on getting it complete and then we will start sending it to festivals,” Shah added.

Next up for Shah is another fiction feature based on the character of a mother inspired by some of the works of Elena Ferrante. It is in the early stages of development.

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