DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT: “The Silent Echo” directed by Suman Sen

What was the inspiration for this film?

There is no direct inspiration as such. I follow cultures and people around the length and breadth of the countryand a few parts of the world too. I love meeting new people and understanding their life. I am a mountain person and for some reason, I have a biased belief that whatever innocence is left in the world it’s there in the mountains. Maybe because the mountain makes you stay humble. For that matter, nature makes you do the same too. 

I live in Mumbai, the western part of India, where the monsoon is gorgeously destructive. I live on a higher floor and the rooms face the direction of the sea. A direct ghastly sea wind passes through my rooms, and it gets difficult to keep the glass windows open, especially during the rainy season. Even if you try to open it a little, a whistling sound creates a very eerie atmospheric feel. If you really want me to pick any inspiration, I think this is the incident from where I started conceiving the story. 

What was it like directing such young children? 

Extremely rewarding and deeply satisfying. I love working with children. They take the best out of everyone. The children in my film are special. They are full of life. 

The casting for this film is phenomenal, how/where did you find the young actors? Have they worked in film before?  

The kids I worked with in this film are not actors or never faced cameras before. They are indigenous kids from the Mustang district of western Nepal, bordering Tibet. They are from a forbidden land named ‘Lo Manthang’. culturally and linguistically influenced by Tibet. I do not speak the language of the film, but that never stopped me from communicating with them. They usually come to study in Pokhra in the wintertime at the refugee camps. We camped in Pokhra to do the casting and met at least 100 kids across schools in different parts. Finally, through an intensive auditioning process we selected 4 kids from 3 different schools. 

How does it feel to be considered for an Oscar? 

It is definitely giving a special feeling, but I would rather cherish every micro-moments of this journey. I am not looking toward a particular destination.

Are there plans to make this into a feature film? 

I do not have any plans to expand this idea to make it into a longer format film. As I am developing two more ideas at this moment, none of which a remotely close to the ones I have already worked on. But maybe the soul of the film will come back to me sometime in life in different forms and shapes without me trying to design it consciously. 

What do you believe is the importance behind a film like this? 

I never determine a particular film by judging its importance to the world. You cannot enforce a mandate on a film. It overburdens the joy of witnessing an experience. I will let the audience decide if there are any. 

What can we expect next from you? 

I am still cherishing the residual success of the ‘The Silent Echo’ as it continues travelling to festivals across the world. I have just finished the post-production of my second short film ‘Cry Me A River’ set in Taiwan for which I received the grant and support of the Information Bureau of Taichung City Government. My debut feature film, Eka (Solo) was part of NFDC Film Bazaar Co-Production Market 2019 and Torino Film Lab Next 2020 and La Fabrique cinéma de l’Institut francais 2021, Festival du nouveau cinéma – Montréal 2022 is going on floor in early 2023 is an India-France-Bangladesh-Canada -Norway co-production has received Aide aux cinémas du monde by the CNC. I am entirely invested in the pre-production of the feature film at this moment. 


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