La Biennale di Venezia, otherwise known as the 69th Venice International Film Festival, will open on August 29th with Mira Nair’s out-of-competition world premiere “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” It’s her fifth showing at Venice, including the Golden Lion winner “Monsoon Wedding,” “Mississippi Masala,” the collective film “11’09’01,” and “Vanity Fair.” Based in New York and Uganda, Nair alternates shooting English-language films and films set in her native India. The festival closes on September 8.
Produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and presented by Doha Film Institute, international political thriller “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” is a Mirabai Films and Cine Mosaic production adapted by William Wheeler from the global bestseller. The film stars Riz Ahmed as a young Pakistani Wall Street player who gets caught in a conflict between the American dream, a hostage crisis, and his family’s homeland. Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Martin Donovan, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi also star in the film which was shot in Lahore, Delhi, Istanbul, New York and Atlanta.
“Mira Nair has made an exemplary film adaptation of a novel that deals with the topical issue of fundamentalisms of any kind or nature,” says Alberto Barbera, the new director of the Venice Film Festival. “With great sensitivity, subtlety and remarkable sense of cinematic narrative, the director is never reluctant to take a difficult stand, inspired by profound ethical and moral reasons.”
Nair worked with cinematographer Declan Quinn, production designer Michael Carlin, costume designer Arjun Bhasin and editor Shimit Amin. The score by Michael Andrews blends old and new Pakistani sounds and a new original song by Peter Gabriel.
K5 International is repping international rights; Hal Sadoff for DFI and Bart Walker of Cinetic are handling North America.
Synopsis is below:
Student demonstrations are raging in Lahore, as young Pakistani professor Changez Khan and a journalist, Bobby Lincoln, share a cup of tea and conversation. Princeton-educated Changez tells Lincoln of his past as a brilliant business analyst on Wall Street. He talks of the glittering future that lay before him and the beautiful and sophisticated Erica whom he was set to share that future with.
But then 9/11 changes everything. Attitudes shift dramatically – his very name and face rendering him suspect. Returning to his homeland and the family to whom he is very close, he takes up a post as lecturer at the local university, a hotbed of radicalism and the new militant academia.
The collegial pretense of the meeting in a Lahore teahouse, between Lincoln and Changez, slowly gives way to why the unlikely pair has gathered on a summer day — another professor has been kidnapped by extremists, and the clock is ticking toward a deadline for his execution. Changez’s family is being harassed and is in real danger. Bobby is there to listen, with an agenda of his own. As it is revealed that Lincoln is in the lions’ den with the CIA, we also learn that he has a personal stake in the immediate crisis at hand.
Taking us through the culturally rich and beguiling worlds of New York, Lahore and Istanbul The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an exploration of prejudice and the phenomenon of globalization that is both exhilirating and deeply unsettling.