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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



IFFI 2018, IV: To the Desert

IFFI 2018, IV: To the Desert

The inspiration for ‘To the Desert’ came from a true news story I had read, about kidnapping in Patagonia. The film uses real-life settings of abandoned houses, employing thereby a documentary approach to film-making. It was an opportunity for me to get involved in the exotic landscape of Patagonia.

- Ulises Rosell, Director

The shooting for the movie was quite difficult as the weather conditions were hard; I always wanted to show Patagonia on the cinema and my wish is fulfilled through this film.

- Valentina Bassi, actress

“I was very happy when I heard that my film got selected in World Panorama section of IFFI which was like an opportunity to take my film to the other side of the world, and we are really grateful for this opportunity,” Rosell said.

Narrating her character, Bassi said “Julia wants to escape in the beginning of the movie but she cannot as she is trapped in a vast open space; the emotions she feels are contradictory as she is dependent on the captor for her survival and she starts to admire the captor’s survival skills in the middle of nothing but at the same time she is very afraid of the harm he can inflict on her. Julia ends up believing that she would not tell anyone about the incident.”

"The film is thus also a story of a secret that should not be shared," added Rosell.


Rosell is an award-winning Argentinian film-maker, with 12 feature films to his credit. Leading actress of the film and Rossel’s wife, Valentina Bassi, is an Argentinian film and television actress.

The film, To the Desert revolves around Julia, a casino employee and Gwynfor, a Welsh descendent, who promises her an administrative position at the oil company where he works. Later on, what starts out as a morning appointment, résumé in hand, becomes a nightmarish journey in the middle of the arid desert landscape of Patagonia. Julia and Armando are in there 30s. He has kidnapped her and now they walk the Patagonia (Argentina), feeding themselves on animals, sleeping outdoors, enduring intense the thirst. Slowly, this captivity gets transformed into a survival test. This unexpected and intense lifestyle might not be worse than her life as a casino waitress.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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