The Auction House – A Tale of Two Brothers

After premiering in Los Angeles and New York, THE AUCTION HOUSE is now screening at film festivals worldwide. It was selected as the Gala film at the London Open City Film Festival in 2014. Press Reviews:

“Featuring enough juicy material to fuel a long running sitcom, its personal and ethnographic themes are told in an expertly entertaining fashion.” Hollywood Reporter
“The Auction House is intimate and funny…” IndieWire
“A beautifully made and captivating film…” London City Film Fesitval
“A wry and endearing look at a hidden India” India Worldwide

The oldest auction house in India is fighting for survival in the age of eBay and a changing Calcutta. This film follows its charismatic owners, brothers Anwer & Arshad, as they struggle to save their family business and a piece of India’s heritage which still brings people from across Indian society through its doors today.

Elder brother Anwer recently returned to his homeland after a lifelong career in the UK and is desperate to revive the fortunes of his beloved auction house. It was purchased from the British by his grandfather in 1940 and has been in the Saleem family ever since. But the odds are stacked against him – a chaotic, fragmented city; a lazy, half-dead staff and most notably his quarrelsome younger brother.


The struggle unfolds against the backdrop of the Exchange’s constant trade, which is illustrated by a series of vignettes tracing objects in and out of the auction house, as they change hands from rich to poor, and back again.


Younger brother Arshad, India’s longest-standing auctioneer, has worked at The Russell Exchange since the 1960s and knows the place, and the world of antiques, inside out. He is steeped in the city’s traditions and is sceptical about Anwer’s plans for change. He believes that Kolkata is a city is in terminal decline and the auction house is destined to die out along with it. As the brothers come to terms with living together for the first time since they were teenagers, they try to find a place for their future by remembering their past. Their amusing, argumentative, but ultimately heartfelt relationship explores whether old family businesses and unique places like the Russell Exchange can still have a place in 21st century India.

Directed and Filmed by Ed Owles
Producer: Giovanna Stopponi
Assistant Director: Sounak Chakravorty
Editor: Emiliano Battista
Composer: Harry Lightfoot
Executive Producer: Phil Cox


Posted on

December 14, 2010