Mr. Mohan Siroya sent me this article on his experience at the IFFI 2008. He has 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.
39 TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OF INDIA AT GOA
A DETAILED ACCOUNT BY MOHAN SIROYA
IFFI 08, this time ,organized jointly by two organizations viz; The Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) and Entertainment Society of GOA (ESG) from 22 nd Nov. till 2 nd Dec. 2008
Smooth and colourful take off with a touch of Glamour
The Glamour Diva and ageless Rekha was specially flown down to Goa to be the Chief Guest and lead in lighting inaugural lamp for the 39 th International Film Festival of India at sprawlling Kala Academy, Goa on Sat. 22 nd Nov. She was aided by another two beautious actresses viz: Ms. ILLina D’Cruz , a native of Goa ,who is now a well known actress in Telugu, and another bollywood actress chirpy Amrita Rao, who also had competently compered the function . They were accompanied by the Miniister of State for Information and Broadcasting , Government of India Anand Sharma , the Governor Of Goa S S Sidhu , and Digmbar Kamath, Chief Minister ;besides other connected dignatories.
Seated in the audience were talented actress Tabu, who is one of the juries for the competition films ; Actor-Producer Director Randhir Kapoor and showman film maker Subhash Ghai .
More than 6000 delegates and about 500 media persons have registered ;besides a good number of International film invitees and critics.
Every dignatory wished IFFI to be better and better and as good as world famous Cannes, Berlin or Karlovy Vary festival. REKHA MADE A SENSATIONAL DISCLOSURE THAT SCENIC GOA IS GOING TO BE HER FURTURE HOME .Another controversial statement was made by the Chief Minster of Goa that he would like to make International Film Festival of India as “International Film Festival of Goa” (Brand Goa). This triggered a tug of war between ESG, Government of Goa and the Directorate of Film Festivals(DFF )
Next day the news papers were abuzz with the statement of the Director Film Festivals
S M Khan that the Indian identity of this prestigious festival can not be diluted by making it “Goa” instead of “India”
According to him such a proposal and the proposal of taking over the organization of the entire film festival by the Entertainment society of Goa (ESG)was already rejected by the I & B Ministry twice .Only the active administration and infrastructural support and sponsorship of the Goa Government and ESG was retained. Because of continuous insistence to have more active role in organizing the event, this year the DFF has already assigned two active functions to ESG viz: Organizing ” Indian Premier section ,consisting of seven film package” and the permission to start the special category of “Short films” and to market that globally. However, if the Goa government continues to harp on changing the identity of IFFI then the Government of India might again rethink of change of location for the festival . DFF is not aware about I & B Ministry declaring Goa as permanent venue as every year there is MOA signed with the government of Goa.
Even the media at large will not like that a serious and prestigious event of such a magnitude having a boost factor to Indian image as a nation, can not be handed over to an inexperienced government aided society, the very name of which starts with “Entertainment” . If left ESG, it will only turn the seriousness Of quality films into “Fun and entertainment films and events” merely to please the local public. So far, ESG has failed in providing the adequate infrastructure to screen films without any hassles. Position is becoming worse because of ever increasing enrollment of delegates ( This year 6000 plus against the last year’s 5000).Opposed to this, the seating capacity is reduced by almost 25 percent compared to last year as Maquinez Palace II Mini theatre and two cinema halls viz; Ashoka and Samrat , are also deleted as venues.
This year IFFI was budgeted to spend about 14 crores of which a mere Rs. 2 crore was from the DFF (Central government ) and the rest was from ESG and Government of Goa .A part of this amount was recovered from delegate fee , public ticket sale and rent recovered from stalls in the complex. Additionally ESG had earmarked Rs. 1.50 crore for live concert by Sonu Nigam (Cost Rs. 21 lakhs) and other entertainment programmes for public. But most of this expenditure was saved due to cancellation of entertainment events ( aftermath of Mumbai terror carnage). Total of 225 feature films from 40 countries were screened in the fest.
General view was that, although the opening film “The War Lords” was only good as a piece of craftsmanship, and battle visuals; the closing film of Majid Majidi”s (Iranian) “Song of Sparrows” should have been in its place and the grand finale should have been show cased by the masterpiece brazilian film “Blindness” which was one of the best films of the fest and also had the honor of being an opening film of 2008 Cannes Fest; Or by the Internationally acclaimed Ang Lee film “Lust , Caution”
1. In view of the grave Mumbai terror attack, appropriate condolences were paid , and all entertainment events and parties were cancelled .
2. For the first time , ESG, the co-organiser of fest had introduced a new section of short films made by first timers , film aspirants and students from all over the world. The package of these 364 films was a big draw for film enthusiasts and acted as a platform to attract buyers and sellers.
3. Accolades to PIB for hassle free management of press events, conferences and manning of facilities and material ,including smooth IT devices with soft wares. Unlike previous years, there was no rush or chaos for opening and closing invitations for media as timing and allotment was notified in advance .
4. Plenty of stalls for food stuff, snacks and beverages (including beer and hard drinks), fresh fruits and juices were allowed in the sprawling
INOX compound ,albiet at a price. And there was also an AIDS AWARENESS stall where the needy could pick up a condom free.
5. On first floor of GMC bldg. a special ,well furnished Airconditioned lounge was opened by Randhir Kapoor commomerating the memory of his father Raj Kapoor. Delegates and media persons had a cozy relaxation or chat sessions on comfortable sofas.
6. Rare Indian and foreign heritage classic films retrieved from available decaying film remnants were restored by the National Film Achieves of India (NFAI) which were screened.
7. A number of films were Issue based or for a social cause . “Mahasatta”, “Yarwing”, “Kanchivaram” “Dhuuaan” etc. on various issues plaguing the country
8. Above all, this year the quality of films screened was much better in comparison to previous year. Besides variety of subjects, best and good films from all genres were clubbed. I have picked such films and reviewed in this article.
1. Usual mismanagement, undue delays and lack of
co-ordination between different agencies and
organizing departments prevailed, especially
between DFF-PIB vs. ESG .
2. Transport facilities ,whether plying of autos and Shuttle mini coach service between INOX to Kala Academy or the Hotel Cida-De- Goa (Official hotel for delegates and parties)was inadequate . But the most disgraceful thing was lack of clean toilet facility, continuous running water and hand wash soap in the toilets of festival premises ,except the INOX theatre. One of the panorama selection committee member Ms. Chitra Palekar and herself a film maker had to personally complain to CEO –ESG to allow free access to all ID card holders to INOX multiplex toilet ,if outside premise toilets can not be maintained. This ultimately was done.
3 Software for advance ticketing was faulty and it was possible to make advance ticketing limited to only 2 days in advance.
4. Screening time of different films overlapped and media persons had to miss a film or leave it in between to catch up with the peripheral activities like press conferences and open forum. After 15 minutes of start , all vacant seats used to be allotted to others who did not hold ticket for that particular film ,thus deprived of watching films
5. There was an unscheduled inauguration of the film Poster exhibition arranged by NFAI, Pune much earlier than the official festival inauguration which many delegates and media missed.
6. Film Bazaar, a prestigious event of the fest organized by NFDC from 26 th to 29 th Nov. remained lack luster due to absence of transactions( buying and selling)for first two days and next two days because of Mumbai tragedy.
7. Commercialization was rampant and open. Daily 50 tickets of each film were sold to general public at Rs. 100 per seat.Heavy rentals were charged from the stall holders forcing them in turn to charge high prices. ESG also started a parallel daily bulletin only to publicise their public entertainment activities and local events alongside official IFFI bulletin. Many common articles appeared in both prints but in different language and meaning as there was no editorial co-ordination between the two.
8. The premier events as well as the screening of Indian diaspora films called as“Film India World Wide proved to be an impact less endeavor (organized by ESG) in spite of red-carpet treatment and presentation of film makers, ncluding star glamour. May be the selection of package was not up to the mark.
A sedate but serene closing
Closing ceremony or the finale function was low key and devoid of any star glamour or glitter except for the dignified presence of thespian Kamal Haasan as the Chief Guest, due to dark shadows of Mumbai events.
(Kamal Haasan presenting the Best film and special jury prizes )
And that was a befitting gesture besides a sensitive closing film “Song of Sparrows” made by the Internationally acclaimed film maker Majid Majidi of Iran ,known for depicting the soul stirring humane intricacies and relationships thru’ his films.
THE BEST AND GOOD FILMS OF THE FESTIVAL
T U L P A N (KAZAKHSTAN)
Amongst the best lot, the first choice deservedly goes for this film for various factors. Since the film was in competition , the learned jury not only declared this film as the best film winning the top prize of Rs. 40 lakhs in cash and golden peacock but also the second prize of Rs. 15 lakhs and silver Peacock as the most promising director for MR. Sergei Dvortsevoy, as this was his debut feature film . “Tulpan” has also earned many international awards during 2008 and now is the official entry from “Kazakhstan” for 2009 Oscar in the category of best foreign film. Sergei ,had earlier made a number of short films which were recognized as “Life cinema”,always depicting simplicity and warmth of the world in a mixture of naturalism and poetry.
After completing his naval service ,young Asa (Competently played by actor Askat Kuchinchirekov) comes down to Kazakh steppe where his sister and her shephered husband live. To start his life in comfort, Asa must get married first ,as that is pre-condition to be a shepherd. The only hope for him in the desert is Tulpan,a daughter of another shepherd. But she does not like him as she thinks that his ears are too big. But Asa does not give up and continues to dream of a life which is not possible in the small desert steppe. Ultimately he succeeds in his goal. “Tulpan” is an epitome of the film maker’s courage , persistence and originality. Sergie’s direction is meticulous in all aspects. His empathy for the characters overwhelms. He uses hand-held long takes to pull viewers into this very unique world where man co-exists with nature. His images dance by beautifully between poetry and realism. And that makes “Tulpan” a cinematic triumph.
We Indians are afraid that our own Aamir Khan’s “Taare Zameen Par” will face a strong rival in the forthcoming Oscar race.
A K A S A K U S U M (SRI LANKA)
This was another film in the competition which was awarded the Special Jury Prize to Ms.Malini Fonseca, with cash of Rs. 15 lakhs and Silver Peacock for her magical acting in the film , written and directed by Mr. Prasanna Vithanage.
Malini plays the central character of Sandhya Rani, once darling of silver screen, but now aging and neglected in obscurity. Her living comes from renting a room of her house to the present day film and TV stars who hire it for carrying out their illicit sexual acts. Once a glamourous star Shalika used her room for affairs with another young actor. But when her infidelity gets exposed by her husband, it becomes a scandal in media and the publicity hounds force Sandhya Rani to come again in limelight ,but for different reasons. The flashback then takes us to her own dark secrets of past hey days ,which she thought she had buried.She had to confront the demons of her past .
Malini Fonseca holds viewers from the first shot till the end with her eclectic close ups, subtle and natural but understated role. She is Diva of Sri Lankan cinema and it is magical to see her younger film clips in the flash back scenes when she was a major star . She rightly deserved this special Jury award, recommended by our very own actor Tabu as one of the Jury members.
L U S T , C A U T I O N (CHINA/TAIWAN)
This 2007 film from the Oscar winner director Ang Lee was another acer at the festival. After his “Crouching Tiger ,Hidden Dragon” , “Sense and Sensibility” and “Hulk”, Indians will be delighted to experience this visual marvel depicting lust and caution in the turmoiled period of 1942 (World War II)when the Chinese city Shanghai was under Japanese occupation.This is based on a short story by revered
Chinese author Eileen chang, but converted into a gripping script by Wang Hui Ling and James Schamus.
Young Wong Chia Chi (played by beautious actress Tang Wei) joins a theatre group of director Kaung as leading lady . Kaung convenes a core group of actors to carry out a radical and ambitious plan to assassinate a top Japanese collaborator Mr.Yee (Tony Leung Chiu Wai). As each actor has to play a part, Wong Chia Chi becomes Mrs. Mak. She is required to befriend MR Yee and get him eliminatd thru’seduction. She first befriends MR Yee’s wife and then draws MR Yee into an affair. Wong transforms herself utterly inside and out and the script proceeds beautifully as desired. However suddenly an unexpected fatal twist spurs Wong to flee Shanghai and emigrates to Hongkong. Here once again she meets Kuang, the theatre director who has now organized a strong resisitance to Japanese occupation of Shanghai. Now once again Mrs. Mak becomes active in the plot to kill MR Yee who is now the head of Japanese secret service. She amorously comes more closer to her dangerous prey MR.Yee . However,to the misfortune of Wong ,Mr Yee proves to be more cautious and foils the entire plot of the group.
The film is another feather in the crown of Ang Lee. In prestigious Venice festival, it had won Golden Lion as the best film and Golden Oscilla for the best cinematography. In Toronto and Taiwan Festivals it got rewarded as best director, best film, best screenplay and best actor award for Tony Leung as MR Yee.
B L I N D N E S S ( B R A Z I L )
This gripping to the edge film proved a wonder film right from first to the last frame as an interesting piece of pace, drama and story development. Directed by Fernando Meirelles of Brazil who was an Academay award nominee in 2004 for his film “City of God” and in 2005 ,nominee for golden globe award for his film”The Constant Gardner”. BLINDNESS is adapted from the same name novel of the Nobel prize winner Portuguese writer Jose Saramago. He did not want to part the film rights but later relented on the condition that the film will be set in an unrecognizable city. It deals with a society suffering from an epidemic of blindness. It follows a handful of people as they try to survive hunger in a government make shift prison. The focus is on a group of afflicted people who are drawn together, sent to an asylum (manned by guards ) by the baffled government as the cause for blindeness can not be fathomed by hospital doctors.In the given context, it appeared, the whole planet had gone blind , one after the other, except a doctor and his wife, who guided the unnamed characters. However, when the confined blind group escapes in the chaos of outside world, another gang of sightless children and old people is waiting. They attack each other and the dogs savage the bodies of dead and dying. Of course, at the end the sight to the blind people comes back as mysteriously as they had lost and sanity prevails back in the city/planet.
This film had its world premier as an opening film in Cannes festival 2008. Thereafter, the film was also appreciated in many other world festivals like Sarejao,
Sau Paulo, Toronto, Helsinki and other Atlantic festivals.
B L A C K I C E ( FINLAND )
This was another good film scripted and directed by the Finnish film and theatre director Petri Kotwica, embellished with good cinematography and acting. Story is an interesting suspense drama about an unlikely relationship between two women. Saara and Tuuli are irresistible and unpredictable women of equal strength. Saara is married to Leo, an architect and a lecturer at University. Saara suspects her husband is having an affair. Tuuli is a student instructor in a class of the University where Leo is lecturer who becomes her boy friend .Saara finds out about Tuuli and starts following her.Saara attends Tuuli’s class as a student with different identity. Saara gradually wins Tuuli’s trust and finds out more more details as Tuuli opens up having a relationship with Leo. Surprisingly ,Saara enjoys Tuuli’s company until Tuuli tells her that she might be pregnant with Leo’s child. Now, a journey towards an inevitable disclosure of lies begins. In the end ,it is finally Tuuli who has to choose a false identity in order to get close to Saara one more time.
Writer- director Petri Kotwica has excelled in communication thru’ the film . Film won several awards at various world festivals in Berlin( for photography), Moscow,Brussels, Warsaw, Canberra, Osaka,Taipei etc.
D E S I E R TO S U R (Chile )
This is a debut feature film of young Chilean director Shawn Garry,earlier to that he had directed a short film which was appreciated in many International festivals.
A simple story but told sensitively and well acted by Marta Etura as the leading character Sofia. Sofia is a champion swimmer. She gets devasted by the news of her mother’s death in hospital when she was busy in participating in a swimming competition and could not bid last good bye to her mother.One day in meloncholic state when she was sitting in her late mother’s room, she discovers from a letter that for many years her mother was having an affair with a man living in the desert community of desierto Sur. Now, Sofia decides to meet the man who meant so much to her mom and sets out to find him with no idea about his address or if he is still alive. On the way, she picks up a travel companion ,a hitch hiking punk rocker girl named Nadia. After many travails, the duo get one Gustavo, who knew where the Desierto Sur is located and promised to drive them . To their bad luck, Gustavo turned out to be a drug runner and was arrested on the way. But accidently companion Nadia gets killed by police bullet . Some how, Sofia manages to reach Desierto Sur and meets the wanted man who is living a lunatic life. As per the last wish of her late Mom, sofia immersed her ashes in the sands of desert where her love was blossomed.
The film touches viewers’ hearts to the core with sensitive directorial treatment and brilliant acting by
Marta Etura.The film had received many awards in International festivals including audience appreciation award , special Jury award, best director and best actress awards .
T H E S O N G OF S P A R R O W S (IRAN)
This film was the closing film of fest besides being an entry in the competition. In his known usual style, veteran Iranian film maker Majid Majidi once again selected a story of a poor worker struggling for survival; sensitively directed and treated to evoke empathy and pathos.
Karim works at an Ostrich farm, outside suburbs of Tehran. He leads a simple and contended life with family in his small house. One day an Ostrich runs away and Karim is blamed for the loss and fired from service. Soon after he ravels to Tehran to get repaired his elder daughter’s hearing aid. There he is mistaken for a motor cycle taxi driver.Thus begins a new earning vocation for him ferrying people and goods thru’ heavy traffic. But the people and material goods that he deals daily, start changing Karim’s generous and honest nature.That puts his wife and daughters in distress. To their good luck, one day the ran away Ostrich returns back to the farm because of which he gets reinstated in his job and the family succeeds to make him restore his values he once cherished.
Besides realistic and sensitive direction and script by MaJidi , the actor Reza Naji has also given a heart winning performance , for which he was awarded Silver
Bear at Berlin festival.The film was further appreciated at various other International festival venues . Now Iran has entered this film as official entry to compete in best foreign film category for 2009 Oscar. Another potential danger for Aamir Khan’s T Z P.
M A I N L I N E (IRAN)
This film was a part of country focus on Iran made in 2006 by writer –director Ms. Rakshan Bani-Etemad.
The director is effective in showing the human struggle encountered by the modernity and conservatism of Iran of present day, where even the female characters freely use smoking, drinking and drugs along with Hijaab ( The head scarf ). Prior to her engagement young Sara was a drug addict. While her fiancé was studying abroad, Sara has had a heroin addiction relapse. Faced with the impending return of her fiancé for wedding , she and mother undertake a desperate journey to a drug treatment centre in the countryside. This modern day portrayal of Iran’s new middle class provides a stark and heart breaking look at youth drug and smoke abuse with contemporary Iran.
“ Main Line” was the ninth feature film directed by Internationally acclaimed and many award winner, Ms. Rakshan Bani- Etemad. This film had also won awards at reputed film fests like Karlovy Vary, Boston and Toronto festivals ,besides other fests.
O T H E R G O O D F I L M S
T H E W A R L O R D S (HONGKONG )
This Peter Chan ( who was the chairman of Jury for competition films of fest) film was also the opening film of the fest ,but failed to receive audience approval due to repetitive battle scenes, though spectacular. In 1850, 430 million suffering Chinese people had raised rebel against the corrupt and exploitative rule of Qing dynasty. 50 milion people had died in the decade long civil war either from hunger or battle . General Pang had bravely led the rebellions and could have turned the history to establish new China but for the two blood brothers and a woman who betrayed him and his leadership. Film is mounted on epic scale with great visuals. Peter Chan maintains that his film is influenced by the 1973 hit film “Blood Brothers” but definitely not a remake as alleged by many. This 2007 film was shown in London and San Francisco festivals and now in IFFI 08.
Comparatively , Peter Chan’s 2005 film “PERHAPS LOVE” was more impressive ,also shown in the fest as a special tribute . The film has a love triangle developed between the two female leads and the director while making a musical in mainland China. This is also the film in which top notch Indian choreographer- turned director Farah Khan show cased her choreography creativity at International level. When asked what made him to select Farah Khan as the choreographer; Chan exclaimed “Although he has not been exposed to many Indian films, I did watch a few Indian musicals and I thought for my
Chinese musical too, she will be a fit choice”. Indeed, our Farah Khan proved it with her easy,Chinese type dancing steps composed in the film. Chan further elaborated “This musical format gave me a larger canvas to explore emotions at over-the- top level , reminiscent of old Hollywood charm”.
T H E S H A F T
This was a competition entry from China written, edited and directed by Zhang Chi . In three interrelated parts, the film focuses on individual members of a family in a mining town. In a symbolic way the lives of these three family members viz; daughter , son and father.the daughter gets intrerelated .Daughter has to choose between her dreams and a suitable marriage, son who is about to start life down in the mine much against his will and a father who has just retired from the mining job.
In a subtle presentation and treatment by director Zhang Chi, the film becomes a delicate celebration of ordinary lives, more authentically and eloquently.
Earlier ,the film had received appreciation at Karlovy Vary and Bangkok International fests.
C U M B I A C O N N E C T I ON ( MEXICO)
This Mexican film had a liberal dose of sex and nudity, but it was an intrinsic part of the theme of stalkers and psychopaths. Attractive 17 year old girl La Cori (played by Fernanda Garcia) is a window shopper as an obsession. Her tempestuous dark beauty draws stares of passers- by; interest heightened by her two-toned hair, tattoos,body piercing and swaths of make up.
First her boy friend El Guiripi enjoyed her sensual sexuality but later on an young photographer El Neto who becomes a stalker for her and attracts her sexually, ringing to her as a “Columbiano” music.The two men are fiercely at odds over this woman but the end shows all three characters driven together by the magnetic pull of this “Columbiano” that magically transforms their lives in joint co-habitation.
This film , written ,edited and directed by Rene U Villarreal was also appreciated at Los Angeles Latino Film Festival .
T R A N Q U I L I T Y (HUNGARY)
This Hungarian film is scripted and directed by Robert Alfoldi .This is an intellectually stimulating film about an author struggling desperately to live his own life and to fall in love under the shadow of his manic-depressive, ex-actress mother . In their helpless inter-dependence ,love and hate chain them to each other. They are locked within the cages of their own madness, pacing within and hoping for liberation assisted by someone else. After prolong tension filled
Developments, how they find a sensible resolution of their problems is the crux.
The film also borders on the Freudian abnormal psychology and elements of Oedipus complex.
This film was shown in Cannes 2008 fest where it received critical appreciation.
A F E W D A Y S L A T E R (IRAN )
This was another new trend film from IRAN ,directed by Ms. Niki Karimi who also played the lead role as Shahrzad with competence. Karimi is an Internationally-hailed actress film maker ,having won several awards in festivals including Cannes and Berlin.
In this festival she was in the Jury and this film was presented in the special tribute section.
This 2006 film also deals with the technocrats and modern professionals ,their deadlines, tension filled lives and free lifestyle clashing with old values of the fast changing Iran. The film explores the life of Shahrzad (Niki Karimi), a famous graphic designer living in Tehran, struggling to keep deadlines with her busy job ,daily routines and love life . At a point, she reaches to an emotional panic and has to finally decide between her hectic and erratic work schedule and a long time relationship.
Acting and direction of Niki Karimi are praiseworthy. The film was also screened in Rome and San Francisco Festivals receiving critical acclaim.
A B S U R D I S T A N (GERMANY)
This German film is highly hilarious and meaningful, directed by a multi talented young man Veit Helmer
Who is also a producer and co-writer of the film.
Somewhere between Asia and Europe lies a God forsaken desert village called Aburdistan. 14 families live here in unity. The biggest problem for the village is Water and lazy menfolks. Only one long distance community tap exists, which brings water from far away and underground sources thru’ old and junketed pipes. Due to rust, erosion and blockages, the water had stopped coming . The women and children in the family were disturbed as all the men were lazy and never bothered to get cleared the water supply source. There was one young ,innovative man Temelko who was in love with a beautiful girl Aya and they wanted to start physical relationship. But Aya’s grandmother had put a strict condition that Temelko will not touch Aya unless they both first bathe in a tub together. Aya sternly then warned Temelko “No Water, No Sex”. He, being educated and innovative first attempted on his own to repair the pipeline but single handedly he could not do it and other village men did not help due to lazyness. Just to motivate men to act, all women decided on “No water, No Sex”. Men were kept starved from sex,but that did not make them to shun laziness. In Unison with Aya, therefore , all women decided to divide the village with a barbed wire boundary . on one side lived all females and the other side was given to males. Men were, thus deprived not only from sex but even from food, socialization and family pursuits. That awakened them from their slumber and they approached Temelko for solution. Temelko made them to work with him to repair the broken pipes and restore the water flow.
The plot may sound simple , but the way scripting was done was full with mirth , humorous , satirical situations and love pangs. A truly delightful movie full of absurdities of ABSURDISTAN. The film was also appreciated in Sundance, Moscow , Karlovy Vary and other festivals.
G O O D F I L M S F R O M I N D I A
K A N C H I V A R A M (Tamil)
Commercial masala comedy film director Priyadarshan has written and directed this Tamil film for Percept Picture Company which was in Indian panorama and also a part of competition. It’s an issue based film showing the trials and tribulations of India’s pride Kanchi silk weavers . Poor ,daily wage weaver but a skilled artisan, Vengagadam promises to drape her daughter in the finest Kanchi silk saree on her wedding day. Since it wont’ be possible for him to afford such a costly saree even after 15-16 years with his meager earnings, he starts stealing a thread of silk yarn everyday from his factory and erects his own hand weaving shaft in the bard of his small house. He also becomes communist union leader of his factory. To fight for workers’ demands, he proposes a strike ,which gets prolonged .In the meanwhile his daughter’s wedding gets fixed .He goes into a quandary as to how, he will be able to finish the saree for lack of yarn since the factory is closed. He, therefore, rebels against the prolonged strike, betrays his co-workers’ confidence and resumes work. When coming out with the required stolen threads of yarn , he gets caught .The unfinished saree cloth is used by him as the silk KAFAN on his dead daughter.
Prakash Raj and Shreya reddy as his daughter have given a sterling performance
G U L A B I T A L K I E S (KANNADA)
This is latest from the acclaimed national awards winning director Girish Kasaravalli.This also has a message that how the communal virus is breaking emotional and secular bonds between people.
Gulabi is a discarded Muslim woman who lives an an island sepearted from her husband . To escape her lonliness, she fans her obsession for films. She ,being an expert midwife is always in demand. Once a wealthy city woman in emergency,seeks her services promising her to give a color TV with satellite antenna as her fees. That first TV set in the small island becomes envy of all women folks, who rush to her hut in evenings to enjoy the latest masala in colour. Even her estranged hubby and her foster son comes back to her. But a cruel twist of events, disturbs communal harmony and Gulabo, being a Muslim ,is forcibly thrown out from her hut and deported to some other place.
This may be another national award winner from Girish .
A K A S H A G O P U R A M (MALAYALAM)
This film is adapted from Ibsen’s play “Master Builder” and set in London’s Indian Immigrant community.Writer director is national award winner K P Kumaran who is known for his deep commitment to women empowerment. In this film he paints an intriguing portrait of one man’s consuming desire for success.
A middle aged Architect Samson (Mohanlal) becomes so obsessed and devoted to his success that he failed to establish a meaningful relationship with his wife but satisfied his lust by carrying out an affair with his secretary. A time comes when he becomes so insecured with his talent that he refuses to make his brilliant deputy independent for fear of eclipsing his own glory. Into this tension, comes a vivacious young woman in his life who helps in restoring is confidence in his ability.
Actor Mohanlal has excelled in the role of Samson.
T H A N K S M A A
This Hindi film by debutant director Irfan Kamal was part of Indian Premier package which depicts the joys and travails of street urchins , a-la- “Salaam Bombay” and turned out to be quite amusing and humane with street Mumbaiya Hindi. The story revolves around a 12 year old urchin called Municipality who has run away from a reformatory school and makes his living by collecting remnants from street bins. He rescues a two day old baby abandoned on the street from becoming a prey to a ferocious street dog. Failing to find any taker for the baby, he takes up the onus of finding the mother of baby. In this mission, he takes help of four other urchin friends. Rest of the story unfolds funny events, but ultimately they succeed in uniting the baby and mother.
N E E C H A N A G A R
Late master film maker Chetan Anand’s
1946 produced black and white beauty “Neecha Nagar” ,which was available nowhere is now digitally restored , thanks our National Film Archieves. As a part of “Treasure films” it was shown in the fest and the film buffs , who were deprived of this masterpiece got amply rewarded. The film plot was adapted from Maxim Gorky’s “Lower depths”. Prior to independence, it was a revolutionary kind of film for mass awakening to fight for their rights. Imagine the craft and talents India possessed sixty two years back in a film maker Chetan Anand and actors– his then wife Uma Anand, the debutant Kamini Kaushal in the second lead( That shaped her future career as one of the top Hindi Heroines) and Mohan Saigal who later became one of the top notch directors of bollywood during sixties.
But above all , HOW MANY OF US KNEW THAT this was the first Indian film which was exhibited in Cannes International Festival and was one of the runners for the top award ?
Hats off to late Chetan Anand .
LASTLY MENTION MUST BE MADE OF TWO STYLISH ART FILMS, WHICH REMINDED US THE OLDEN DAYS OF ART FILMS MADE BY LIKES OF Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahni and others who graduated the Film and Television Institute
Of India Pune.
S I L E N T L I G H T
This was a film from Mexico, Germany, France and Netherlands, scripted and directed by Carlos Reygadas.
Who had earlier won many International awards for his earlier two films. This is third film and was screened in almost all prestigious world festivals. At Cannes ,It won a jury prize and in other festivals FRIPRESCI Prize ,either for direction and photography. Director and cinematographers shot taking technique was imaginative and crafy. In a few shots the camera concentrated even fo 3-5 minutes for a single shot, but it was worth to wait to appreciate the photographic effects. Of course the subject was ordinary family story
Of course, due to its slow pace, the audience at large termed it as boring.
A U T I S T I C D I S C O (GERMANY )
THIS FILM TOO WAS A PIECE OF ART , but with a
better theme dealing with rehabilitation of autistic teenagers. But again, because of its slow different style could not receive much appreciation .
Film is sensitively directed by the Internationally acclaimed German director Hans Steinbichler. He was also handicapped by the pace of script; but his cinematic art and technique is flawless.