The Winter of Love at Capital Woman

Capital Woman are promoting and screening “The Winter of Love”, the directorial debut by Shakila Taranum Maan  on 8th March at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3EE.

The DVD of The Winter of Love will be sold at a discounted price for the conference participants.

Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London will introduce the day along with special audience with Angela Davis

For more information on the day, contact Capital Woman.

Click here to purchase the DVD of The Winter of Love.

 

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ASIAN WOMAN magazine gives THE WINTER OF LOVE 5 STARS

“The Winter of Love is a sensitive drama that gets under the skin of Asian life with its atmospheric visuals and a compelling soundtrack by Kuljit BhamraSuman Bhuchar writing in Asian Woman, January issue.

In the January Issue of Asian Woman’s film section, The Winter of Love walked away with a grand review by Suman Bhuchar   and 5 stars to boot. Recommended as stocking filler, the feature is an independent production released by The Art Ministry  and written and direct by Shakila Taranum Maan.

Click here for information and to purchase a DVD of The Winter of Love.  

Koutaiba Al-Janabi, Cinematographer of The Winter of Love

Renowned Cinematographer Koutaiba Al-Janabi’s contribution to the independent film, The Winter of Love, was uncompromising. Highly experienced of working on low budget productions and supporting new film makers, meant that filming of The Winter of Love was possible. Below is an extract of an interview with Koutaiba Al-Janabi conducted by Charlie Sen.

What is your background?

I was born in Baghdad, and studied at the Budapest film school and later moved to London. I have worked on short films, documentaries, and I have made a few features, and The Winter of Love (formerly A Quiet Desperation) is one of these low/no-budget feature films that I worked on.

How did you come to work on The Winter of Love?

A few years ago I met Shakila Taranum Maan with a ready script and she was looking for a Director of Photography to work with her. Ruhul Amin (another Filmmaker), from the Bangladeshi community introduced us and we started to work together. At that time I was in the middle of filming with Leon Herbert, shown in many cinemas in London. That too was a no/low-budget film, titled Emotional Backgammon. Shakila saw my work, I saw her work and I felt she came from the East, so did I, and I spent before many, many years in Eastern Europe always working with European subjects and I felt that this was a real opportunity for me to work with someone from the East.

I talked together with Shakila about our backgrounds, how we like colour; how we like the people. And so through these conversations a relationship started between us. From that moment I advised Shakila to explore the history of art and we started to study the old painters and advised her to see the work of the Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer to establish the mood and the relationship of the Preeti, who lived mostly in her bedroom. We started to work with the scenes in the house, for the colour of the location. We had some difficulties, as there was very little money involved. We went to the location a few times, we set up the scenes.

The film is based in Southall, a very well known multicultural area in London. We visited the area many times. Shakila took me to around the area; we worked a lot to prepare this film.

So what kind of look did you go for? What was your and your director’s design?

The starting point was very strange – really it was the East, and the quality of the drama and the story. Plus – a very strange thing happened to me. Always I build the scene – when I first saw Shakila’s face it gave me a lot to move the story. Her face, she doesn’t know this, but Shakila was the starting point. Because I felt that in that period, definitely she worked on this script for many years, and I tried to get something from her face, her hands.

We felt about yellowish, golden colour, as this colour in my culture and her culture was dominant.

How was it shooting in a place like Southall?

I thank Shakila because she gave me the chance. Maybe she liked the first three days of the filming and she let me move on and I moved on – anybody came to Southall who have not been to India will be impressed with the colour, the people, with the shops. Somehow for me, I can feel the similarity with where I came from. I felt I knew the people. I knew them before. I can talk to anybody in the street, I can touch anybody on the street, and I can go to the shops. Somehow I feel this kind of tolerance and the people of Southall were very open to help. This is what helped me to show Southall

So how did you visualise the film?

The framing was open, although Shakila had a very strong visual style she was willing to look at different ways of imagery for the film. Also as it was low budget we understood that we had to treat the 35mm like a 16mm and so that is how it was. As I mentioned before, we didn’t prepare everything so much in advance and the situation was always moving and changing around us. And we have to be creative sometimes we have to be handheld; people sometimes don’t arrive on time. We jump to another scene. The light is no good, everything is changing and we must think very quickly, and this is something, which made the people very tired because we worked very hard. And the crew was very limited.

Being low budget, you must have had a very good team to work with – how were you able to sustain it?

I must thank two people, they worked very hard; Thomas Theakstone he was the Focus Puller and he was the Gaffer.

We got very good support from the producer, Manjeet. She gave us very good confidence and really supported us. Sometimes we did not really have permission to shoot, things like that. The lights we put it in the middle of the road! We made it in a crazy way, in a guerrilla filmmaking way. Manjeet was brought up in Southall and she had a relationship with the people, and this helped a lot.

As the film was made on 35 mm and we had huge equipment. Tom, and Gaffer Paul DeFriepas and I – I can’t remember all the rest of the people, we all worked very hard. And you can see the quality of the picture. We never let any scene go without lighting it well.

Were you able to get support from the industry?

With my relationship with Panavision, Shepperton and after Adrian Waterlow met with Shakila and read the script, they tried to encourage her and they gave her a very good deal which helped us a lot. We need to thank Adrian as he helped us to get the equipment, and Harry Rushton at Bucks Labs who helped us so much and really took the project to heart, he further helped us to get the footage from Fuji through Roger Sapsford. We got a few lights from Lee Lighting.

I am very proud of this film, and I hope somehow, somewhere the film gets some luck and is shown.

This was clearly a low budget film, how was it on a day to day basis?

This was a big thing, Shakila and Manjeet, they put this thing together and they tried. They got support from the crew and from me to realise this dream – it seems to me that the dreams of low-budget films in this country there are problems.

I think this was made five years ago carrying the subject about tolerance and personal struggles. And this is a big issue around us and always will be. And all the crew, actors worked beautifully, enthusiastically, everybody when they saw the film they realised the quality of the picture. I believe this film will never die because everybody put their heart in to this film.

This film was shot in very small rooms, small locations, Manjeet and Shakila’s friends, council flats and so on. Every location in this film carried the energy – and the human touch. We made two sets, the scene with Banger and his wife and she set up the shed where Shammi and his older brother drinks – but I think this was half a set as we used a really shed so in reality we only made one set. All the film was shot in real locations.

How was it being in Southall, as part of a community?

With this film I believe and we believed that we went into the heart of the community. I do believe that the East is East. And that is very clear when you go to a place like Southall.

We worked very hard to present the mood of the light, and working toward the colour of the Art Director, Amarjeet Kaur Nandhra, who had put in lots of effort.

As the DOP of this film, I am very proud of the night scenes, of the shadow scenes, abut the colouring of the film, the quality of the colour. And all this I think it is a little bit in the European style. It is not a Bollywood film, absolutely not. A Bollywood film you need money. Somehow we made a European film.

I think the film shows the struggle of the community. But the problem is with low budget film you need some support to survive, need some distributors for such a film to survive.

We showed the harshness, the difficulties, the suffering of the immigrant community. I think this film will show either the beginning or an end of this kind of film being made here in this country. I also think that this film shows the energy of the Asian community and all the community was very positive with us. And through all this – a kind of tolerance between the communities, and it was fantastic to work with the people in the heart of it.

What is your overall feeling of the project?

I think this is the best that I have touched, because of the atmosphere, the quality of the picture. This is when the Director of Photography can work and is able to voice their thoughts and have input. I feel that everything is there in this film.

The Crew of The Winter of Love

I am indebted by the incredible dedication that my producer Manjeet Singh showed whilst putting the film together. She managed to pull the production together and made the shoot possible against all odds. We were all unaware of the gravity of her condition and saw Manjeet continuing to work on the production despite having suffered a car accident. She is still recovering from the accidents and is as excited as I am to see the release of the DVD.

It would not have been possible to get the production off the ground had I not met with Ruhul Amin, a fellow film maker based in East London, who introduced me to Koutaiba Al-Janabi and recommended him as my Director of Photography.

Koutabia was very keen to work on 35mm and liked the idea of the project to be shot entirely on location, with no set building. His recent work had been on low budget films so he understood the need to be precise and hit the mark immediately. Of course his creative abilities played an overwhelming part in him coming on to the project.

Koutaiba introduced me to his ‘crew’ who worked with him as a complete unit. A mixture of experienced and in-experienced individuals meant energy and a vibrancy that was needed when working on the edge – which this project was.

The rest of the team included Assistant Director, Matthew Hope who ended up writing an aspect of the script with me; Focus Puller Thomas Theakstone, Gaffer Paul DeFriepas, Sparks Taimur Shuja Akhtar and Yves S Barre, and the soul of the party Clapper Loader Edward Ware made the shoot endurable and memorable. Other key members of the crew who worked relentlessly and with great passion included the sound department headed by Daniel Rosen along side Boom Operator Mark Hargreaves.

I was able to source other much needed individuals to cover the various departments that were as yet not confirmed. Continuity by Zac Rashid, Wardrobe by Abi Ward, assisted by Surina Mangat and Harjit Jatana, Makeup by Lucy Lebow and the Art department headed by the Art Director Amarjeet Kaur Nandhra, assisted by Dandeep Wariabharaj and finally the Props department managed by Mamta Anand meant that we could finally get the show on the road.

Using the Avid facilities provided by Andy Isaacs at a very reasonable rate, Tanya Trohoulia and I set about editing the film.

Post production crew included the talented Julian MacDonald who created the Sound Design and mix and of course the original sound track was created and composed by the legendary Kuljit Bhamra.

When we ran out of money and couldn’t afford the catering by Omi’s restaurant, we had to resort to asking the family. And of course various cooks contributed to the production from Manjeet’s mum through to my sister, sometimes Harjit and at times I cooked for the crew.

I have a great affection for my crew and individuals who worked to make The Winter of Love possible. We were making a film in very difficult and adverse conditions and dealing with subject matters at the time and perhaps even now that were outside of the realms of the mainstream. I think this was recognised by all those involved and the film stands as a testament to their dedication to their craft and passion for making films in this country.