Rohit Pramar catches up with director Peter Webber to talk about his participation in the 16th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival
Festival veteran and British film and television director, Peter Webber, who is best known for directing Girl With A Pearl Earring and Hannibal Rising, is part of the jury at the ongoing 16th Mumbai Film Festival (MFF). He will be judging the international competition segment, along with Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Ritesh Batra and Ron Mann. In an exclusive conversation, we talk to him about the festival, his visit to India and his documentary, Ten Billion.
Are you excited to be part of Mumbai Film Festival?
Of course, I am! It’s always a great honour to be part of any jury for a film festival. But, to be the president of one is even more of an honour. Mumbai is an amazing city. I’ve lived here for five years, so it’s great to be back, watch movies for a week and sit and discuss them with my esteemed fellow jurists.
What do you look for in a film?
I just look for a good film. In a way, we have all these preconceptions. We want to see something that’s going to be the voice of a filmmaker. Then, there is the script’s performance, whether story was told in an interesting way, whether it’s a fresh story or an old story told in a new way. It’s not that different from when you watch a film with your friends and then come out of the theatre and discuss it. Except, most of the people who are a part of the jury are experienced filmmakers. So, these are definitely more informed and educated thoughts about filmmaking.
Have you travelled around India?
Yes, I’ve travelled through the north and south of India. I’ve been to Rajasthan, Goa, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. I’ve been all over.
Have you ever considered shooting a film in India?
I would love that. I haven’t set my mind on a script or found an Indian topic, but I would really love to shoot here. I think it’s a very cinematic country. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that you get to visit and spend time in another country. So, when I made Emperor with Tommy Lee Jones, I spent a year in New Zealand. It’s such a fantastic country and has such lovely people. I really enjoy working around the world.
Would like to collaborate with Indian filmmakers and artistes?
Well, I’m here for business. So if any Indian producers want to talk to me, I’m at their disposal. Come talk to me at the Mumbai Film Festival and maybe we can go to a coffee shop in Juhu and discuss some ideas.
Tell us about your upcoming documentary, Ten Billion.
It’s a film about what will happen to us in the future, especially what will happen if we don’t change the direction in which we are moving. It focuses on issues such as over population, climate change, the extinction crisis and ozone layer depletion. Let’s just say that the world is going to be a lot more dangerous thirty years down the line. The film should release early next year.
How deeply do you believe in the concept of the documentary?
I do believe in it very much or I would not be showing it. I worked for a year with Stephen Emmott, who is a very respected scientist. The film is very alarming and the situation is a very real threat. I think anyone intelligent who looks at and studies demographic and climate change, will realise that we need to do something about these issues. So I do believe in it wholeheartedly.