Mr. Mohan Siroya writes directly for “SACHINITI” from the festival precincts in Goa and gives us his first hand account..Interesting!
A brief profile of Mohan Siroya:
Academically a double post graduate ,worked as a Sr.professional manager in MNCs in Mumbai for 30 yrs.. Simultaneously, has also been freelancing as a FILM JOURNALIST/CRITIC for last 40 years. He has been a prolific writer , having written critical articles ,features, reviews etc. on films, Music and TV in numerous English periodicals in India. Named a few are :- The Indian Express, Film Fare, Film World, Picture Post, Cine Advance, Screen , The Hitavada, Lokmat Times , The Twin City Times , Film Industry Journal, Day After, Femina , Eve’s Weekly, Free Press Journal , Blitz etc.
So far Mr. Siroya has written about 7000 articles on films. He is the founder president of FREELANCE FILM JOURNALISTS COMBINE (FFJC), a registered association of Freelance film journalists all over India.
He is also a CONSUMER ACTIVIST of repute , presently being the Chairperson of Consumer Complaints Cell , an NGO based at Marol. Earlier, he was associated with the Consumer Guidance society of India for several years on their complaints committee.. Recently, The Times of India newspaper had eulogized his selfless and free services by calling him a “City Angel”and making a feature on him. Also a Social Activist , having held many prestigious offices in the International Association of Lions Clubs
Mr. Siroya is 71 years young and very much active . He believes in living life king size, with a flair for Shairi, poetry and humour .
38 th International Film Festival of India — Goa
Sedate and Smooth Take off
For the last four years since the Festival started taking place in Goa , this year was the first time that it took off with serenity and seriousnes as a festival of International standard deserves .
The opening ceremony was devoid of any bollyood or cinematic razzmattaz unlike last year when it was reduced to a cheap cinema song- dance show . Credit must go to the Dirctorate of Film Festival and the Chief Minister of Goa, for not entrusting the affairs of orgaanisation to the inexperienced Goa Entertainment Society and diding the two distint areas viz; Cultural and other film shows for public and the actual film festival, both at separate avenues. There was no hassle for the openiing day function ,excpet the autocracy and high hindedness of Police and Kala Academy mangement (the venue of opening function) where, the invitee guests, delgates and media persons were not allowed t enter back into the auditorin for the film show ,once a person had come out even for a natural call . After much ht exchanges and a commotion, the entry was allowed.
Present on the dias were the Minister of Information and Broaasting P R Dasmunshi, Chief Minister f Goa Digmbar Kamath,The Secretary Asha Swarup of Ministry of I & B .
From the film Industry, the Film Federation of India president Mayawalla , South Indian beautious actress Priyamani and the King Shahrukh Khan ,as the Chief Guest , who had the honur to first lit the inaugural lamp.
Union Minister Dasmunshi made two announcements– one that inspite of much media brahuva about shifting f IFFI frm Goa, he clared ,it will remain a permanent venue for the festival. He further revealed that from next year the Minisry will confer THE LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO THE OUTSTANDING FILM CONTRIBUTION . THESPIAN Dilip KUMAR an the Bhaarat Ratna Indian nightangle Lata mangeshkar will be conferred first such award.
Compared to earlier years fun filled bollywood , mis-managed and hassled fest, 2007 IFFI was a big success , a fest which conformd to the International standards . Major credit for this must go to the Directorate of film Festivals (DFF-director Neelam Kapur) which ensured that all the details of organizing festival are chalked ,out and executed by it ,leving only the local administrative and infrastructural nitty gritty to the state Government body -Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG). DFF also did delegation registrations, which was on merit thus keeping it manageable and of those who are indeed a part l of Indian film world. The highlights of this success were :-
Selection of films was wide and varied from amongst the meaninigful and serious films , oppsed to the bollywood Indian main stream cinema . . About 175 films from 46 countries were screened.
The innovative method of on line registration and advance ticketing system eliminated the long serpentine queues , stampede or seat hassles in the auditoriums. . Arrangement for the medfia was no doubt, hassle free and without chaos. For opening function , the select media invite cards were notified in adavance.which ensured the orderly distribution.
The opening functions were devoid of any frills and cheap entertainment. Even the location area of the fest was left free of any public functions or cultural revues which were shifted to the populated beach locations .
Screening capacity was augmented by adding two extra theatres adjoining the main Inox venue besides adding two local cinema houses to screen festival films.
Variety of eating stalls , soft/hard drink kiosks were allowed to operate within the INOX/ GMC complex for the benefit of registered participants. Transport arrangements too were much organized and satisfactory
However , there were also problems which could have been avoided with little forsight. They were :
a. Inspite of DFF director’s assertion that the media/delegates will be allowed to hop from the film they did not like to
any other film within half an hour provided seats were available in that hall . However, in practice this did not even. In
the bargain, most of the halls were empty and the media/delegates were deprived of seeing the films of their last
b. Just after the inaugural function on first day, there was a fracas at the Kala Academy as the security did not allow entry
or exit even for a loo and kept the gates shut . After a few minute hot exchanges, the security / Management
corrected the situation .
c For the closing function when the award winning films are announced , instead of inviting the media the way they had
done for the inaugural function , DFF surprisingly decided to dole out invites “On first come first served basis”. This
resulted in inconvenience and a long queue at the only window provided for the purpose.That was a sheer waste of
time at the cost of not watching a movie.
c. T The media centre premises was cramped and did not have any seating lounge for the press. Even the press briefing/conference room was too small to accommodate reasonable number. The computer systems provided for use of media was erratic, full of server problems and deficient configuration..
d. I Inspite of tight security, the ESG could not handle the vandalism played by a local NGO when a few forceed their entry ,removed the sign boards of Kingfisher Media lounge and compelled the management to close operations of serving free drinks to the registered media persons.It was in the guise of protecting morals of Goans , but they did not do anything about all those kiosks operated in the complex where people were wining and dining openly albeit after paying for it. In fact, on strict moral grounds, those should have been stopped first.
A FEAST OF BEST AND MEMORABLE FILMS
The screening of films was divided into various segments as genres , retrospective, focus on a country , cinema of the world . compitition section etc etc. Fourteen films form across the Asia- Africa and Latin American countries were selected for the competition . The jury who made the selection of award winning films , comprised of veteran worldwide film makers
Chaired by Ms. Maria Meszaros of Hungary. Other jury members were Ms. Metem Cumbul from Turkey, Pablo cesatr from Argentina , Robert Sarkies from New Zealand and Shaji Karun from India.
to be continued…….
A few of the good and best films of the Festival
Opening Film — Romanian classic “4 Months, 3
Weeks and 2 Days”
It was indeed a masterpiece . written and directed by Cristian Mungiu. The film is a moving tale of trials, tribulations and heart wrenching events in the life of two medicine girl students , for getting an unwanted pregnancy aborted. In those days, Hungary had a strict anti -abortion law . Both girls are staying in hostel and are room mates. One of them ,who bore a four months, three weeks and two days old pregnancy decided to abort it thru’ a quack referred by a friend and the room mate helped her in all respects to get the job done of clandestine ternmination . How they both manage , how the helping friend manages her twin responsibilities, one to be with her boy friend’s family for an important event and second to look after the abortion secrecy and nursing ,both occurring simultaneously. The film also depicted the motive of the room mate in helping the dangerous and risky task , because sooner or later she was to face the similar problem of getting rid of her conception from her boy friend, who was wavering to marry . She expected similar favours in return. For 113 minutes ,the audience was under the director’s magical spell, making them to clutch the edge of their seats due to gripping suspense and fast developments . The script and direction of Mungiu was excellent and flawless. He was aided by magnificent performances by actresses Ana Maria and Vlad Iranov. Photography and sound tracks were effective in heightening the tempo. This film rightly deserved the grand prize at the 2007 Cannes International Film Festival (The prize Pam d’ Ore ) which it won, besides the other awards at the Toronto International Film Festival .
Award Winning films of the competition
The Wall ( Taiwan)
This Taiwanese film made by the director Lin Chih Ju was declared the best movie of the competition and was awarded the top prize of Golden Peacock with a cash Rs 10 lakhs. The film is finely crafted about dreams, hope , betrayal and love of ordinary people coping with politically challenging times in 1930 of the then Taiwan. Even the small villages were not spared of white terror. A- Zhen is a beautiful young housewife who always felt there was something weird in her house. She became curious about the mystery surrounding the wall and one day ,to her amazement found that there is a Japanese man hid behind the wall , whom her husband kept incognito since long and respected him like a God. The man was an activist of a socialist revolution . To prevent him from beiing caught by the authorities , her husband had hidden him inside the wall in a small cavity with a tiny closable cover Her husband used to feed him secretly and used to inform him of the outside developments thru’ fissures in the wall.
Film is well scripted by Wu Zhen Gang with two others. Cinematography with lanterns and candles is superb. Tsai Yi as the housewife and Yon Yn Shun as the husband have emoted well in their roles. Direction of Lin Ju is sensitive matching to the treatment of the subject.
Me Myself (Thailand )
This film was awarded the second prize silver Peacock with cash of Rs. 5 lakhs as the most promising director to Pongpat Wachira Bunjong for his debut film . The film talks about whether we have a freedom to choose our own life. In the process the film depicts a story of hope for a world without discrimination while recognizing the difficulties of coping with being different. Young man Tan suffers from amnesia and lives with a girl Oom , who is the reason behind his amnesia. Oom has broken from her boyfriend and she also has to look after her little nephew. In the beginning, Tan and Oom did not get along well , but the little nephew creates such situations that they start liking each other. The love Tan receives also helps him in recovering from his memory loss. However, when he realizes his past, that starts haunting him . His past is a big twist to his present life with Oom. How the opposing pasts are reconciled is the crux.
Pongpat , the director indeed has done a magnificent job from a well woven script by Kongdej J. He also has extracted commendable performances from Ananda as Tan and Chayaman as Oom . The film was well appreciated at the last Bangkok festival
Swapnodoya ( Bangladesh)
This film shared the special Jury award for the writer (also the director) Golam Rabaney
Biplab as he was adjudged as the best story-script writer of the film .The award consisted of a silver Peacock medal, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 2.5 lakhs.
“Swapnodaya” is a simple story of a poor man who has the chance to dream about rich life but later discovers that the things he already have are more important than the dream. The classic story is told simply without any western influence and resonates a truth of life around the millions of people. Fazlu sells fake medicines in local fairs but can barely support his family consisting of his wife, a handicapped daughter and a son to educate. One day his son buys a second had trouser . In a pocket the mother finds a lot of currency notes . Parents feel elated and become dreamy with a better life. But the snag was that the currency was foreign and the poor /illiterate Fazlu did not know how to convert in Bangladeshi rupees. He seeks help of a literate friend who agrees to convert the currency but with 50 percent cut. Fazlu still agrees. Fazlu starts dreaming of a second wife as he will well afford . However, the events playout for him and his family and then the film attains its grace and insight. Performances by all artistes and the music by Bappa Mozumder are befitting the mood of the story.The film has also won many International awards in other festivals.
More Than Anything in the World ( Mexico)
This film from Mexico shared the jury prize along with the Bangladesh film “Swapnodaya”, but for the wonderful performance of the girl child Julia Urbini. The film depicts the story of a child craving for her mother’s love. The child actor’s performance is central to the film’s success. Julia Urbini gives an enchanting , nuanced portrayal that helps make this film special.
The relationship between beautiful mother Emilia and her little imaginative daughter Alicia is tested every day. Left to herself in the apartment , she feels uneasy when Emilia brings new man every night . Alicia takes refuge in dreams which turn into nightmares. She begins to fear that her Mom is possessed by the vamparish man next door.. This film illuminates the secret world of lonely children. Writer -director duo Andres Leon Becker and Javier solar have done an excellent job. This film had also received the best film award in last Gudalajara and Montreal film festivals.
A few other good films from the World cinema
“Goodbye Bafana” ( Germany-South Africa and many othr countries Joint production) is the story of liberation struggle of the black South Africa of 1968 ,their freedom struggle led by Nelson Mandela and the eventual independence. Director and writer is Bille August and the character of Mandela is competently played by Dennis Haysbert.
” No Exit” is an Israel film scripted and directed by Dror Sabo.It’s based on reality shows . The director discovers that no success can be repeated unless you have added new gimmicks. The film had won the best film and the best actor award for Gal Zaid at the Melbourne and Shanghai Film Festivals respectively.
” The Exam” ( China) . This film is like a mini poetry on celluloid. This vividly weaves a true story happened in a remote island village in China ,where a primary school teacher Ms. Qu devoted her twenty yeas in serving the lone school and the village students, where no other teacher ventured to come. Ms. Q, wanted a transfer to the city where her two daughters (one mentally ill),required her presence .The Director General of schools keep a condition that if she can top her school in the district exam consecutively for 10 years then she may get the transfer. Q worked hard and topped the school for 9 years. In the penultimate year ,the village head reveals her plans to leave the village if students fair well in the Exam. In order to re-tain her, the students deliberately give wrong answers and fail in the exam. When Q learns how much the village and children love her, she abandoned her plan to leave the school. First time director Pu Jian has executed the film in a very natural way and even the actors were real life characters from the village, no professionals. The film had won appreciation at Tokyo , Barcelona and Asian film fest.
“Cruel Embrace ” (Sri Lanka) The moving emotional drama tells of the struggles of a war widow in Sri Lanka . The film is is scripted by Nimal Senanayake and directed by Anirudha Jayasinge.
” Yoshimo’s Barber Shop” (Japanese) .This film interestingly tells a tale of a small village in Japan, where the only barber shop binds the entire cultural and traditional fabric of the village children. Written by Ms.Naoko Ogigami ,this film had won huge appreciation at Pan International film Festival
“Love Lorn” (Turkey) It’s a story of an idealist school teacher , who chose his ideals over his family. The film has won laurels in many International festivals and was an official entry from Turkey for Oscar in 2006. Film is written and directed by Yavuz Turgul . Film’s lead actress Meltem Cumbul had won the FIPRESCI best actress award at the Palm Springs festival . Incidently , Ms. Meltem was also on the jury of this year’s IFFI.
“Red Like the Sky” ( Italy) . This moving film deals in a matured way with the creativity and mental state of blind / low vision children . Sensitively written and directed by Cristiano Bortone, the film leaves a lasting impact on viewers.
” Paper Bird” ( Germany). It’s a story of love, lost childhood and the search for her own identity by a 23 year old man .Imaginatively written and directed by Vanessa Van Houten.
with beautiful photography of Bangkok.
Hyped and much touted films which did not come up to the expectations.
The much touted Mira Nair film “Aids Jaago” is a mere compilation of four short docu-dramas directed by the well known director celebrities , one by Mira Nair, second by Vishal Bhardwaj, third by Farhan Akhtar and the last one by Santosh Sivan. The story material is all predictable and offers nothing new. Only Sivan’s “Prarambh” was comparatively topical and better.
Other Indian diaspora film was “Amal” scripted and directed by Rachie Mehta which failed to make the desired impact. Pakistani film (Also a part of competition) written and directed by Shoaib Mansoor “Khuda Ke liye” also failed to impress as it contained predicatable events and defective script. Of course, our own talented actor Naseeruddin Shah gave convincing performance in both these two films viz ‘Amal” and “Khuda ke Liye”. Another much hyped film of Rituparno Ghosh made for the International audience in English ” The last Lear” ,premiered especially in the festival failed to enthuse our confidence in either the director or the thespian actor Amitabh Bachchan who played the pivotal Shakespearian character.
Unfortunately , the biggest disappointment proved to be the closing film of the festival ” Fados” scripted and directed by the celebrity film director from Spain/Portugal Carlos Saura. Years back , the great Indian dancer-composer late Uday Shankar had made the classic Dance ballet film “Kalpana” that was appreciated by only the hard core music -dance aficianods. Same can be told about this international festival touted film “Fados” May be the song and dance numbers for the entire 90 minutes might have been liked by Goans , still having a kink of Portuguise culture. Otherwise, half of the packed Kala Academy was empty within first thirty minutes. And that was the last note of the festival – IFFI 2007.