MAMI is back. And so are we, for our annual movie pilgrimage. Like every year, moiFightClub regulars and readers will bring you all the day’s reccos and reviews. Here’s our Day 1 wrap.


Certain Women

Director Kelly Reichardt is mildly successful in capturing moments in the lives of her four women characters played by Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart and Lily Gladstone. A restrained, languid pace, and a lack of melodrama places the film halfway between fascinating and a collossal bore. Stellar acting from the cast, which also includes Jarred Harris in top form and fantastic 16mm cinematography by Chris Blauvelt certainly help.


In NERUDA, about Chilean poet/diplomat Pablo Neruda’s attempts to hide from a fascist government, the director Pablo Larrain weaves a wholly unprecedented form, merging elements of Film Noir, Western, and Terence Mallick to create what I would term his masterpiece. Every scene manages to evoke poetry, what with the editing and the cinematography, done for the most part with a wide angle lens that invites light sources to cast beautiful echoes. The film maintains an even, zen-like serenity even in its more tumultuous scenes, cleverly steering clear of any explicit depictions of the Chilean government’s brutality. Anchored by magnificent performances by Luis Gnecco as the eponymous poet and Gael Garcia Bernal as the detective who pursues him, NERUDA is a magnificent, moving film.

Old Stone

Johnny Ma’s debut feature Old Stone is well made and mildly compelling. While it weaves itself around a fascinating concept – Chinese laws that encourage motorists to kill anyone they injure in accidents rather than save them – it does little else. A shame, because the film is technically quite well done, beginning in a soft cinema verité style that gradually gives way to gorgeously photographed traditional cinema. There is little nuance to his story, little depth to his otherwise well acted characters. Worst of all for a film that masquerades as social commentary, all attempts at metaphor and commentary come across woefully heavy handed.


A documentary about tourists visiting a concentration camp, Austerlitz is fascinating and taxing at the same time. Gorgeously composed in black and white, long, static frames invite us to see men, women and children pouring into a former concentration camp with their tour guides leading the way. There is no point of focus for the audience, no single character or theme you can latch on to, which can translate, quite quickly, into tedium. There is, however, something quite hypnotic about the rhythm of the crowds during certain scenes, some faces and people invite you to investigate them, the grotesquerie of the cellphone camera is in full display in scenes where crowds click pictures as if in unison. I hesitate to recommend this film because it requires immense patience from the viewer.

The Lure

A gonzo Polish musical about two mermaid sisters who become singers and strippers at a nightclub, this sexy, messy flick gets pretty fucking crazy but never really seems to fulfill the promise of its premise. Some of the numerous songs are quite grating and it never really finds its tone but there’s some great bizarro moments and a constant punchy soundtrack that keeps everything fun.

     – Anubhav @psemophile

Neruda (dir: Pablo Larrain, 107 mins)

Pablo Larrain’s Neruda is a magnificent fantasy masquerading as bio-pic. Part truth, part fiction, the story is as deceptive as the titular character — evasive, chameleon-like, and, above all, magical. Staged as a thriller, the film is actually a surrealist painting. Delving deep into the myths about Neruda — the man, the poet, the lover, the people’s champion — the film follows a police officer’s (played by the strikingly handsome Gael Garcia Bernal) futile hunt for Neruda, who’s on the run from his anti-communist government. Shot gorgeously — in a purple haze literally — the camera-work is reminiscent of 40s and 50s movies. Ultimately, however, what remains are the echoes of Neruda’s most famous lines, and by the time you leave, you think:
“The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.”

Austerlitz (dir: Sergei Loznitsa, 94 mins)

How do you watch a difficult movie on a difficult subject? Sergei Loznitsa’s Austerlitz is a black-and-white documentary film that challenges even the most patient viewer. At 94 minutes, there’s no action, as the cameras endlessly record footage of people in real-time.The film juxtaposes the present — tourists, hordes of them in colourful moods and clothes and phone cameras — with the dreadful past at the concentration camps of Dachau, north of Munich, Germany, and Sachsenhausen, just outside Berlin. Does history serve to make us feel better or worse about ourselves? As one tourist poses as a hanged inmate at the concentration camp, you wonder whether the lessons of history are lost as soon as they are learnt. After all, the papers every morning suggest just as much.

Shubhodeep @diaporesis


Although it isn’t a biopic, Pablo Larrain’s Neruda is how a biopic should be. Set in a pre Pinochet Chile, the film feels like one of Neruda’s poems. Larrain is a master at deriving more from the screenplay than what’s written, and he does that here with visual references to old Hollywood, purple hued lens flares and a truly Nerudian narrator. Gael Garcia Barnel is sachha Neruda. One of the greatest films this year, bakshna mat!

Old Stone

A taxi driver’s travails when he decides to save the life of the person he gets in an accident with. Johhny Ma’s Old Stone tries to take a stark look at China’s dystopia, but gives it up midway for some arbitrary thrills. Could have been an entirely different film, and a good one at that.

Bhaskar @bolnabey


The film revolves around a retired music critic who refuses to sell her apartment to a construction company. The film’s setting barely extends beyond a beachside apartment block of Recife in Brazil but gives a great sense of place. The camera work is a thing of beauty and the running time of two & a half hours justifies the languid yet solid character study. The sassy Claire ( subtle and exquisite, Sonia Braga) will give you friendship, grace, sexual confidence and aging goals. What fascinated me the most was how the intangible feeling of ‘home’ is tied to some of the most mundane objects and how spaces are repositories of personal histories.

Dipti @kuhukuro

The Lovers and The Despot (Dir: Ross Adam, Robert Cannan)

Great premise. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il (baap of present dictator Kim Jong Un) kidnapped a Director-Actress couple from South Korea to make better films in his country. But the docu turned out to be okayish only, mainly because of the plain, uninventive, non-ironical way it was narrated. Could have been a cracker, but too little to play with (probably because of the iron-wall of N. Korea) as no footage available.

The Lure (Dir: Agnieszka Smoczynska)

A gory, bizarro, creature-horror musical. That sounds yummy and yummy it was! Two human-eating mermaids come to live with a music band at a night club and love, sex, exploitation gets into the mix. Run this through mermaid-based folk tales while beautifully shot and composed music becomes an integral part of the narrative. Winner for day 1 at MAMI!

वरुण @varungrover 

Under The Shadow

Peter Bradshaw has put it right for this film — it’s Asghar Farhadi meets Roman Polanski. Horrors of political war kills dreams and ambitions of an aspiring doctor who is now left alone with her daughter after her husband has been transferred to another city. Their fears, insecurity (of her being an incompetent mother) and surrounding paranoia culminates into horrors of  supernatural. Even though it has all the tropes of a horror film, it manages to surprise and shock at right places. The film deserves a lengthier review to discuss all its metaphors and humane observations. But till then, put this on your MAMI schedule.

Mostly Sunny

Looks like Dilip Mehta is confused if he wants to do a Wikipedia page of Sunny Leone or a Caravan profile. He ends up somewhere in between. If you have read anything about her life trajectory, this film has nothing new to offer. At times, it deifies Leone with people making sweeping statements like “everybody in Bollywood wants a piece of Sunny now”. Mehta interviews people from different sections — taxi driver, spot boys, TV channel head, but asks them the same question about what do they think about her past life. The film is short of perspectives.

The Lovers And The Despot

The fact that something like this happened is so hilarious that I stopped minding its over dramatic treatment. A divorced South Korean film couple — director and actress — is kidnapped by the dictator of the neighbouring communist country for them to make films. It’s a dream for any director to get to make films of his choice with all the country’s money. In a Stockholm Syndrome kind of situation, he did give North Korea its first romantic film and made non-propaganda films… but now the filmmaking itself is a propaganda.

Anup @thePuccaCritic


A Death In The Gunj

A death in the Gunj is my story. It’s your story too. It’s a story about life and its vagaries, and our inability to handle it. It’s a story about the weaker ones amongst us and their struggle for survival, almost Darwinian. The story slides through mundane parties and games, and like the town in which it’s set (McCluskiegunj), the film moves in leisure pace giving you ample time to absorb and soak in it. The melancholic aftertaste of the film refuses to leave me. Vikrant Massey who plays Shutu, depicts the vulnerability of his character so earnestly that he keeps you rooted throughout the film. This is such an assured debut by Konkana Sen Sharma that I can’t wait to watch it again.

 – @invokeanand

A fabulous start to the MAMI madness for me. Saw 4 amazing films in this order – Neruda, The Lovers And The Despot, You Are My Sunday & Loev. All completely different movies of different milieu but felt like being woven through some common invisible thread. They became like pearls of same necklace for me and the thread was – a deep realisation within human beings about this fact that our outer realities are mere reflections of our inner creations. Obviously this also says what I am looking for in a film i.e my inner reality. But surprisingly enough, this is not only a subtext which I am deriving based on my interpretations. And happier part of this experience was that 2 of the 4 films were Indian, low budget Indie films – You Are My Sunday and Loev.

Loev / You Are My Sunday

Both films felt so fresh and non pretentious at its conception and writing level itself. And both had this newness regarding truthful exploration of emotional landscape behind Indian male psyche. They blurred the boundary of male and female characterisations and became the voice of human emotions only. The fears, the hurts, the hesitations, the longing and the inherent complexities of understanding love while being in it which remains same at fundamental level for both the sexes. And to see two indian films show this root aspect of human existance so beautifully and effortlessly on the very first day would be the most pleasant surprises for me in this MAMI I think.

Neruda / The Lovers And The Despot

Both the films had one major event happening in the artist’s life which finally defines the artist’s individuality against its environment i.e his/her country and its situations but basically becomes a tale about the power of art and its influence in our politics and finally ends into blurring the persona of the artist even. Both end up telling the same basic truth again – our inner realities creating our outer reality. And when seen in this light, how our individial stories just becomes a symbol, an emoji or a shortcut link may be to take us back to the same basic inherent beliefs (read fears) behind our creation.

In Neruda, this point of creation was shown through the character of Neruda being an enigmatic and fearless poet.

In Lovers and the Despot, this is being reflected by the life and deeds of Kim Jung il, the former president of North Korea.

Both the films were about protagonists getting trapped due to an oppressive system and then the chase for freedom resulting after that.

The Lovers and the Despot at its core is about ‘denial of fear’ being mistaken for fearlessness even by a dictator. And hence the constant state of paranoia. And if this basic misunderstanding is done by a man of power, how it creates a whole society based on false perceptions of every emotion possible.

And Neruda, was the admission of this same truth, in the words of poet itself, which is guiding the mad chase of other protagonist, the police inspector, simply to show him the futility of his own chase at the end.

Raj Kumari


This year’s edition of the Mumbai Film Festival started with its opening ceremony at the restored Royal Opera House. While the re-opening of venue was the talk of the town, cinephiles were happy that two iconic filmmakers, Jia Zhangke and Sai Paranjpye, were honoured with Excellence In Cinema Awards.

Here are some snapshots from the opening ceremony of the fest.

Let the movie madness begin! See you at the movies.

(If you haven’t read, click here and here to read our recco posts on the films)

(click on any image to start the slide show)


(all pics via twitter. If you want individual credit for any pic, or want us to remove it from the post, do let us know)


Among the many new things that has been added to the programming of Mumbai Film Festival this year, a filmmakers bootcamp was much needed. This was the first year of the bootcamp. The day-long event had three back to back interesting panels with lunch, snacks and dinner break.

But before you scroll down, do check out the Movie Mela schedule too. Two days full of back to back interesting panels.

Movie Mela

Back to bootcamp! The three sessions were –

Session I: Journey of the First Script
A dive into the avenues available to filmmakers with their first script draft.

– Bianca Taal (curates the Voices section of IFFR), Konkona Sensharma, Vikramaditya Motwane, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Kanu Behl and Amit Masurkar

Session II: Navigating Film and Co-production Markets
What do these platforms offer? How can a filmmaker/producer maximize this space?

– Neeraj Ghaywan, Nirupama Kotru (former director (films) of Ministry of I & B), Chris McDonald (President, Hot Docs), Ajit Thakur (CEO, Eros Trinity Pictures)

SESSION III: Digital Distribution : A Real Alternative To Theatrical Release?

– Vasan Bala, Kiran Rao, Pratiksha Rao (Head, Media-Partnership, Twitter), Paolo Agostinelli (Chief Content Officer, Tata Sky Ltd)

And here are some of the interesting notes from the sessions..



Our MFF-Recco post continues. If you missed the 1st part of ‘Films You Should Not Miss’ at Mumbai Film Festival, click here. The post covers reccos from World Cinema, International Competition, Rendezvous, and After Dark category.

This is the last part of the series by Shazia Iqbal.


Director: Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon. Country: Syria, Denmark. Language: Arabic

The Arab Spring changed Syria and the Middle East forever. In March 2011, radio host, Obaidah Zytoon decided to capture the significant historical change along with her friends, and began filming their lives and events around them. But as the regime’s violent response spirals the country into a bloody civil war, their hopes for a better future are tested by violence, imprisonment and death.

There are a thousands stories in every corner in Syria. Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body and Omar Daqneesh’s traumatised motionless face created international media wave though eventually we will forget them. That is why we need more documentaries, more reminders of the ongoing conflict in Syria. So the world doesn’t forget the numb faces of Syrian children.

The jury at Venice Film festival called, The War Show, a must see movie that “provoked an impassioned response from the jury. We were immediately struck by the political and social significance and urgency of the film, while also appreciating its daring and innovative approach to filmmaking.” It will be a difficult watch but a must see. It won the won the Venice Days Award, the top nod in Venice’s independently run section.


Director: Ros Harin. Country: Australia. Language: English

The world is facing its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Apart from housing people, largely from the Middle East and Africa, how do you rehabilitate and heal people hurting from the post-war trauma and integrate them into a peaceful society. Ros Harin found dramatic Art as a way for these refugee women to liberate themselves of their suffering.

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe is based on an Australian theater production of the same name and features four refugee women who fled conflict, rape and brutality in Africa -including a former child soldier in Eritrea and another who trekked across the Sahara to escape war – who play themselves on stage.

 Trailer here


Director: Boo Junfeng. Country: Singapore, Germany, France, Hongkong, Qatar. Language: English, Malay

Boo Junfeng’s prison drama dealing with Capital punishment and its stringent laws in Singapore is country’s Foreign Language film entry to Oscars – a story that not only explores the psychology of executioners but also the suffering of the criminal’s family.

Aiman, a correctional officer is transferred to a maximum-security prison. He strikes up a friendship with Rahim, who is revealed to be the chief executioner of the prison, the longest serving and the most prolific one. When Rahim’s assistant suddenly quits, he asks Aiman to become his apprentice. Aiman has to overcome his conscience and a past that haunts him to become the executioner’s apprentice, the same man who executed his father.

Was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Trailer here


Director: Davy Chou. Country: Cambodia. Language: Khmer

Davy Chou’s feature debut, Diamond Island is a coming-of-age story of an adolescent boy from Cambodian provinces, who moves into a big city to do a menial construction worker job at the titular luxury complex. Here he is reunited with his missing older brother. Hollywood reporter reviewed it as “Reminiscent of both Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito in its fish-out-of-water account of a kid trying to make it in the city and of Tsai Ming-liang’s Rebels of the Neon Gods in its portrayal of disaffected Asian youth”. A Critics’ Week selection at Cannes, it won the SACD prize for the Best Screenplay.

Trailer here

GODLESS (Bezbog)

Director: Ralitza Petrova. Country: Bulgaria, Denmark, France. Language: Bulgarian

Gana, a morphine addict medical aid, steals ID from her vulnerable elderly patients suffering from dementia, and traffics them in the black market along with her boyfriend with whom she is in a sexless relationship that doesn’t have love as well. The post-communist Bulgarian world of depression, apathy and corruption has no effect on her conscience, not even an incidental death of a patient. But things change when she meets a new patient, Yoan.

Irena Ivanova won the best actress at Locarno Film festival for her catatonic, hardened portrayal of Gana, while Petrova got the Golden Leopard along with the Best Director prize.

 Trailer here


Director: Ben Young. Country: Australia. Language: English

Ben Young in his debut feature takes real life inspiration from serial killer, Eric Edgar Cooke, and more directly from David and Catherine Birnie, the couple who abducted and mutilated four young women in the 1980s, Perth, Australia.

The story follows a serial killer couple, Evelyn and John White, who hunts down young women from neighbourhood, abducts and kills them brutally. A rebellious teenager, Vicky reeling from separation of her becomes their latest victim and her only way out is to create rift between the predating couple.

Hounds of love scouts twisted understanding of human psychology and falls under torture-porn genre and had maximum walkouts during its premiere at Venice Film festival. But it’s been getting good reviews and Variety said, “with a harrowing ride that morphs from discrete horror to probing character study and back again in a vivid yet admirably restrained 108 minutes”. Like me, if you have a taste for gruesome serial killing horrors that questions human behaviour, don’t miss this one.

Trailer here


Director: Jordan Schiele. Country: China. Language: Chinese/ Mandarin

Jordan Schiele’s Chinese feature debut, Dog days got him nomination for best first feature at Berlinale. It is a social drama cum crime thriller about a single mother, lulu who works as a dancer at a sleazy nightclub. She comes home one night to find her boyfriend, Bai Long, missing along with their child. In her desperation to get her child back, she strikes a deal with Bai Long’s drag queen lover, Sunny to leave the couple alone once she gets her child back.

Dog days deals with single parenting in China amidst its one child policy, child trafficking and social incongruity between its affluent and lower class. Schiele was inspired to make this film after witnessing a fatal accident in Beijing, where a young mother looses her child while riding a bike in between cars.

SAND STORM (Sufat Chol)

Director: Elite Zexer. Country: Israel. Language: Arabic

Elite Zexer’s debut, Sand Storm is set in the southern part of Israel and is a story of two Bedouin women who struggle with sexist cultural traditions, where men and women both are largely regressive towards women. This compelling story about a women’s humiliation with the traditions of her husband’s second marriage to a younger women and its frustrated reflections on her daughter’s love affair with a boy outside her tribe, won it the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film festival.

 Trailer here


Director: Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel. Country: UK, Peru. Language: Spanish

 I am biased to stories where common people rebel against the establishment. The ‘Anti-Estd’ genre deals with the inspirational strength of what a group of commoners can achieve when greedy politician, bureaucrats threaten to affect and destroy their life.

This compelling activist documentary and winner of Special Jury Prize at Sundance, set in the Peruvian Amazon puts itself directly in the line of fire between the powerful government and indigenous tribes who are fighting over the future of the country. When President Alan Garcia attempts to extract oil and minerals from untouched Amazonian land with the hopes of elevating his country’s economic prosperity, he is met with a fierce, violent opposition from local tribe led by indigenous leader, Alberto Pizango. This leads to a conflict that quickly escalates from a heated war of words to one of deadly violence.

Trailer here


Director: Paul Verhoeven. Country: France. Language: French

In reviewing Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, most reviewers have called it a ‘rape – revenge – comedy’. Now that’s three words you will never see put together in life or in movies. That’s what makes the plot of Elle so powerful, so fascinating.

 Michèle is the CEO of a leading video game company, who is raped in her house by an unknown assailant. Instead of being the ‘victim’ she tracks the man down and they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game. Elle is a thrilling character study as it subverts behavioral pattern, you know or expect of a rape victim. Thought provoking, gripping, brutal and laded with dark humour, this deeply disturbing psychological thriller is France’s Foreign Language Film entry to Oscars.

The film premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Trailer here


Director: Bertrand Bonello. Country: France. Language: French

Nominated thrice for Palme d’Or, Saint Laurent Director, Bertrand Bonello comes up with a controversial film on a bunch of angry and angsty Parisian adolescents, from different origins about to execute a series of terror attacks in the city. After planning the attacks, they meet at a Departmental store in the night, where one of them is missing.

Apparently the script was written five years ago, prior to Charlie Hebdo and horrifying attacks in November last year. Because the film doesn’t portray the characters as black or darker shades of grey, and kind of make terrorism look ‘cool’, it is being called out as irresponsible. The world is not getting better by bombing places that gives birth to terrorists so Bonello tries a different route by entering an anti social element’s psyche.

Trailer here

MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE (Ma View De Courgette)

Director: Claude Barras. Country: Switzerland, France. Language: French

Switzerland’s Foreign Language film entry for Oscars, Director Claude Barras’, My life as a Courgette is written by Celine Sciamma (Screenwriter of the critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama, Girlhood). The film uses gorgeous stop-motion animation to delicately tell the story of a shy 9 years old who ends up with other orphaned misfits after causing the accidental death of his alcoholic mother, only to find solace and acceptance in their troubled company. A Director’s fortnight selection at Cannes, the story dwells on the theme of life isn’t easy for anyone and seems to be a kid’s movie meant for adults.

Trailer here

THE RED TURTLE (La Tortue Rogue)

Director: Michael Dudok de Wit. Country: France. Language: French

Oscar winning director of wordless short ‘Father and Daughter’, Michael Dudok de Wit partners with Studio Ghibli, Japan’s top animation company founded by Master filmmaker Harao Miyazaki. The result is what is unanimously being called the ‘Wordless masterpiece’. The Red Turtle is story of a man shipwrecked on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds. This dialogue free journey recounts the milestones in the life of a human being, its explorations about the deeper truth of life and its contentment at every turn.

This powerful journey of images won it the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film festival.

 Trailer here


Director: Mia Hansen love. Country: France. Language: French

Mark Kermode reviewed Slack Bay and wrote half a page praising Isabelle Huppert for her magnificent acting journey, her reputation for going the extra mile and “understated talent, conveying complex conflict through restrained physical gesture”.

In Mia Hansen love’s post divorce drama, Things to come, Huppert Plays 50 something Natalie, who teaches philosophy at a high school in Paris. Her life circles around her work and her former students, her family and a possessive mother. She needs to reinvent her life after getting dumped by her husband for another women. A woman liberating herself after divorce is an idea done to death but Mia Hansen takes a fresh approach to a women at the onset of old age about to question human existence and her own relationship with life. The film won her the Silver Berlin Bear for Best Director.

Trailer here


Director: Olivier Assayas. Country: France. Language: English

Olivier Assayas, director of the enigmatic Cloud of Sils Maria, and five time Palme d’Or nominee, teams up again with Kirsten Stewart who plays Maureen, an American women who works as a fashion assistant to a celebrity in Paris. Like her dead twin brother, Lewis, she has psychic abilities to communicate with spirits. She starts receiving ambiguous messages from an unknown source.

A film that cuts across many genres is hailed as ‘horror-meets-Devils-Wears-Prada’, has divided critics though mostly in favour of its bewitching unconventional horror story. This character study of a psychic’s response to being stuck at a morose job in the midst of losing someone very close won Assayas the Best Director Award at Cannes.

Trailer here


Director: Babak Anvari. Country: UK, Qatar, Jordan. Language: Farsi

What could be most horrifying than living in a place that is constantly under threat of being attacked by a bomb or a missile? Ever wondered how people live and function in a war zone knowing their family, children can be dead any moment? Babak Anvari, Iran born British filmmaker and director of the extremely disturbing short ‘Two & Two’ needn’t even dwell on these questions. It must be within him.

Shideh and her family live in Tehran amidst the Iran-Iraq war at its peak in 1988. Accused of rallying against the government, she is blacklisted from the medical college and falls into a state of depression. With Tehran under constant threat of aerial bombardment, her husband is called at the front-line leaving her and their daughter, Dorsa, alone. Soon after, a neighbour dies right after a missile hits their apartment and fails to explode. Dorsa’s erratic behaviour of seeing a mysterious entity concerns Shideh and threatens her own grip on reality. One by one, everyone deserts the building leaving the mother and daughter to confront these forces by themselves.

Under the shadow is hailed as a political allegory for feminist horror film that deals with female oppression in Iran’s post revolution sexist society. Like Anvari says, “If you grow up in Iran or live in Iran, everything you do becomes political.”

UK’s Foreign Language film entry to Oscars, this is definitely the film you don’t want to miss.

Trailer here


Director: Na hong Jin. Country: South Korea. Language: Korean

Korean maestro director (of indigenous noir films like The Chaser and The Yellow sea) Na hong Jin’s horror-thriller, The Wailing is a monster hit in South Korea and has gathered tremendous curiosity at the festivals and among Cinephiles. Korean filmmakers have mastered the genre of horror thrillers without using the cheap thrills of jump scares.

The arrival of a mysterious stranger called ‘the Jap’ in an otherwise quiet village coincides with a rash of vicious murders, causing panic and suspicion amongst the villagers. When the daughter of investigating officer Jong-Goo falls under the same savage spell, he calls for a shamanic priest to assist in finding the culprit. The hair-raising trailer adds to the hype and looks like this is the kind of horror that will house in your subconscious and stay there for long.

Trailer here

THE LURE (Corki Dancingu)

Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska. Country: Poland. Language: Polish

Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska’s fantasy, horror-musical, The Lure is a modern fairytale for grownups with intriguing kitschy visual, set in a Warsaw nightclub. It premiered at Sundance and won the Jury Prize for “unique vision and design”.

Two vampire mermaid sisters – wild, beautiful, sexy and hungry for life, take human form to experience the terrestrial world. One of them falls in love with a handsome young bass player embroiling them in a love triangle that creates havoc in the sisters’ relationship.

Trailer here

And a few Special mentions:

Endless Poetry narrates Jodorowsky’s autobiographical journey as he liberates himself from his family and gets in the company of masters of Latin America’s modern literature.

Fatih Akin’s Goodbye Berlin is a coming-of-age story of two teenagers who take a road trip in a stolen car.

Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World documents how the virtual world of Internet has drastically changed the real world – education, business, health care and our personal relationships.

Dilip Mehta’s Mostly Sunny is Sunny Leone’s biopic that traverses through her unknown journey from being a porn star to a Bollywood actress.

Andrei Konchalovsky’s Paradise is love drama about a Russian aristocratic emigrant whose life is intertwined with a French collaborator and a high ranking German Officer during the second World War.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon is a horror/thriller about a young model who has just moved in dark, dangerous world of LA fashion industry.

Nicolette Krebitz’s Wild is about an anarchist young woman’s strange encounter with a wolf that arouses the deepest and wildest forces within her to break free of the controlled world.

The Together Project is story of a man who would go any length to prove his love for a Swimming instructor. He seduces her and pretends he can’t swim only to be caught later and lose her.

If you have some movie recco that we missed in our posts, please do reply in the comment section and let us know.

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The screening schedule of this year’s Mumbai Film Festival is out. And the best part – this year, it’s day-wise schedule instead of venue-wise. So we don’t have to make the effort to do the conversion. We are also hoping that the schedule will be out in excel format for easy navigation. So far it’s in pdf and we are embedding it in the post.

There’s a surprise too. The fest has added Manchester By The Sea as the closing film. As far as we remember, closing film at the fest used to be mostly a random one. It’s refreshing change in this regard.


It’s that time of the year when we spend our entire day running around from one theatre to another, staring at the big screen, to live inside different stories from different countries which are in various foreign languages. Yes, our annual movie ritual, Mumbai Film Festival, is here. And like every year, this year too the programming is quite strong. Most of them are festival winners from the top fests across the world. But there are some hidden gems and sleeper hits too. So instead of running around muddled with dilemma of not knowing what films to watch, Shazia Iqbal burnt her midnight oil googling and reading about all the films. And these are some of the most interesting ones from World Cinema, International Competition, Rendezvous, and After Dark category.

This is the 1st part of our MFF-Recco post.

Also, a big shout out for the all women MFF team for getting five films in the International Competition category by female directors, especially because it’s a competitive section. This is so rare for any festival around the world, and a huge encouragement for female directors.


Director: Mahmoud Sabbagh. Country: Saudi Arabia. Language: Arabic

A Civil servant meets an internet star could be another boy meets girl story but add Saudi Arabia to that and you will know why Mahmoud Sabbagh’s Barakah meets Barakah will have the longest queue during the festival. With great buzz at the festivals, rave reviews, a Jury Prize at Berlin Film Festival, this sleeper hit is Saudi Arabia’s entry to the Oscars.

Trailere here

CLASH (Eshtebak)

Director: Mohamed Diab. Country: Egypt, France. Language: Arabic

Mohamed Diab got festival recognition with his first film 678, which was a horrifying tale of three women that deal with rampant sexual oppression and chauvinism in their everyday lives in Cairo. Clash is a one-location story set in a police riot wagon that struggles through the violence-ridden streets, after the ouster of Muslim brotherhood president, Morsi. Diab, a participant of the Egyptian revolution in 2011, puts together demonstrators from different political and religious background in a confined space to see if they can overcome their difference to survive the hegemonized state.

Was at Cannes Film Festival, 2016 and was the opening film of the Festival’s Un Certain Regard section.

Trailer here

AFTER THE STORM (Umi Yorimo Mada Fukaku)

Director: Koreeda Hirokazu. Country: Japan. Language: Japanese

Cannes darling, Koreeda Hirokazu – four times Palme d’or nominee, is the director of Like father like son, which picked up the Jury award in 2013. It is one of the most powerful parent – child drama that questions society and Hirokazu seems to be a master in dealing with complicated dysfunctional relationships closer to home. After The Storm is about a private detective, Ryota who dwells on his past glory as a prize-winning author, wastes his money on gambling and can hardly pay for child support. A stormy night gives him the chance to reconnect with his son, wife and widowed mother.

Screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Trailer here.


Director: Danis Tanovic. Country: France, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Language: Bosnian

Danis Tanovic debuted with No man’s land, that won the Oscar for the Best Foreign language film in 2001. His latest, Death in Sarajevo is a compelling multi-layered political satire, where a host of diplomatic European union VIPs gather at the Hotel Europa to celebrate the centennial of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination (An incident that is said to have stirred the First world war) with the resentful hotel staff on the verge of striking.

Winner of Silver Bear Grand jury and FIPRESCI Prize at Berlin, Variety called it “An expertly modulated choral drama that is also one of the most clear-cut and boldly stated summations of Bosnia’s paralysing discord.” It is also Bosnia’s Foreign language film entry to Oscars.

Trailer here

GRADUATION (Bakalaureat)

Director: Cristian Mungiu. Country: Romania. Language: Romanian

Palme d’Or awardee Cristian Mungiu’s second feature ‘4 months, 3 weeks, 2 Months’ is the kind of devastating, chilling story that stays with you forever. It isn’t just a piece of cinema that you watched, it’s more like a story you have lived. His latest Graduation got him the Best Director prize at Cannes and is a complex psychological drama of a doctor, Romeo, who is trying too hard to get his daughter pass life-changing school finals to get her out of the depressing dysfunctional Romanian society into a British university. In an attempt to slide his daughter out of the system, Romeo himself becomes part of the corrupt bureaucracy.

Trailer here

DON’T CALL ME SON  (Mae so ha Uma)

Director: Anna Muylaert. Country: Brazil. Language: Portuguese

Thematically on the lines of Koreeda Hirokazu’s Like father like son, Anna Muylaert’s Don’t Call Me Son deals with a turbulent adolescent, Pierre – tall, dark, androgynously handsome, he wears eyeliner and a black lace g-string, while having sex with both boys and girls. His world topsy-turvies, when he gets to know his mother stole him as a child. He is now returned to his biological parents who are trying to make him part of their bourgeois world. With Solid performances and soaring reviews, this one seems to be one of the hidden gem at the festival.

It was shown in the Panorama section at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival where it won a Jury Prize at the Teddy Awards for LGBT-related films at the festival.


Director: Ken Loach. Country: UK, France, Belgium. Language: English

I saw the festival teaser of Veteran British director’s I, Daniel Blake right after it won three awards at Cannes including Palme D’Or. Watched it again and have been waiting for the film since then. In this moving, political drama, Daniel Blake, an ailing carpenter fighting for his welfare benefits, needs help from the state meets Katie, a single mother who is in a similar predicament. They find themselves in no-man’s land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy.

In a helpless system where ‘Man Vs Bureaucracy’ is designed to pitch one person against the other in disparity, this moving relevant political drama exposes the cruelty of an apathetic dysfunctional society. This is right at the top of my list.

Trailer here


Director: Reza Dormishian. Country: Iran. Language: Farsi

A gang in Tehran that mugs people in broad daylight and kidnaps kids from wealthy family that have money through corruption and embezzlement of state funds. An aristocratic journalist and social activist who has been retaliating against Iran’s ‘eye for an eye’ justice system is attacked with acid. A prostitute turned gangster, who is madly in love with another gang member and has to do deal with her lover’s love for the righteous journalist.

Iranian director, Reza Dormishian continues from his social critique on contemporary Iran, I’m not angry right into Lantouri that subverts everything we know of, expect of and seen of Iranian cinema.

Was in the Panorama section of Berlin International Film Festival.

Trailer here


Director: Ivo Ferriera. Country: Portugal. Language: Portuguese

There is a war montage in The Thin Red line where the film asks you, ‘when did all the bloodshed began, how did we land up here?’ Here denoting at war with each other, man against man, the bloodshed at the borders, the brutal killings, the divisive world the human race have created where people die everyday because of an unnecessary conflict. Thematically Letters From War lingers on similar line of questioning from a point of view of a lover longing for his wife.

Based on the letters of famous Portuguese writer António Lobo Antunes to his wife, the film tells the story of a young doctor being drafted into the army in 1971, and transferred into one of the worst zones of the colonial war – the east of Angola. In the uncertainty of the war events and everyone’s struggles to escape the bloody horrors of the conflict, it is the letters that help him survive. The film is Portugal’s Foreign language film entry for Oscars.  It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival

Trailer here


Director: Gael Garcia Bernal, Anurag Kashyap, Mia Wasikowska, Natasha Khan, Sion Sono and Sebastian Silva.

Country: UK, USA, Japan, India, Australia, Argentina. Language: English, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish

Madly is an anthology of six short films directed by Gael Garcia Bernal, Anurag Kashyap, Mia Wasikowska, Natasha Khan, Sion Sono and Sebastian Silva. From the issues of post partum depression, coming out, woman’s pubic hair, orgy, to how pregnancy affects a couple already in a doubtful relationship, it explores the emotional core of modern love and relationships in all its forms – dark, ecstatic, crazy, empowering and erotic. Our own Radhika Apte won the best actress award for her segment in Kashyap’s Clean Shaven at Tribecca Film Festival.

Trailer here


Director: Pablo Larrain. Country: Chile, Argentina, France, Spain, USA. Language: Spanish

This is NOT a biopic on the popular Chilean Politician-poet. Pablo Larrain uses anti-biopic structure to examine the role of a radical artist in the society rather than social drama of focusing on the life of a writer.

1948 Chile. In the midst of Cold War, Inspector Peluchonneau is assigned to arrest Pablo Neruda, who became a fugitive in his own country for going against the government and ‘being the most important communist in the world’. Meanwhile, in Europe, the legend of the poet hounded by the policeman grows, and artists led by Pablo Picasso root for Neruda’s freedom. Neruda becomes a challenge for Peluchonneau, who starts romanticizing the chase and while doing so asserts himself as a hero and not the supporting character in the story. So now we know why a Neruda film has another character as ‘face of the film’ on the poster.

Screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Was selected as the Chilean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Trailer here


Director: Johnny Ma. Country: China. Language: Mandarin

Canadian Chinese director Johnny Ma, who is a recent alumnus of Sundance Screenwriting/ directing lab, makes a powerful debut with his gritty, realist social drama Old Stone, which recently won the award for Best Canadian First Feature at TIFF. After a car accident, Mr. Old Stone, a cab driver in a small town in China hurls himself into a bureaucratic nightmare when he takes an injured man to the hospital. A place where drivers are known to kill pedestrians they hit to avoid paying for their lifetime rehabilitation fees, Stone’s good Samaritan seems a wronged man for everyone mired in corrupt social fabric of China’s Kafkaesque bureaucracy.

Trailer here


Director: Daniels. Country: USA. Language: English

Somebody thought of a crazy idea of a farting corpse that saves a stranded man from killing himself. Somebody bought the idea. Somebody funded it. In a world of ‘The-audience-won’t-accept-this’, ‘The-set-up-is-not-relatable’, ‘too-risky-to-put-money-in-a-weird-concept’, how the hell did this absurdist surreal comedy get made and premiered at one of the biggest festival!

While it made a good number of Sundance World Premiere audience to walk out in the first half an hour of the film, it also picked up the Directing award. You will either love this one or hate the guts of the makers to pull this together.

Trailer here

THE COMMUNE (Kollektivet)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Country: Denmark. Language: Danish

Dogme 95 Veteran, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt was one of the most unsettling films with provocative, unforgettable imagery. Festival favourite Vinterberg’s The Commune is inspired by his own childhood experience of living in a group.

Set in 1970s Copenhagen, a couple experiments living in a commune that exposes the cracks in their own relationship. Exploring the free love of 70s, Erik and Anna, along with their teenage daughter set up a community full of idealists and dreamers, which is put to test when Erik starts an affair with a younger woman. Opened to mixed reviews, it was nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival.

Trailer here


Director: Rob Cannan, Ross Adam. Country: UK. Language: English

A gripping documentary reveals an eccentric tale of a film couple kidnapped by a brutal, movie-obsessed dictator to improve his films. A South Korean film couple, filmmaker Shin Sank-ok and actress Choi Eun-hee met and fell in love in the 1950s post-war Korea. Choi was kidnapped by North Korean agents and taken to North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-il. While searching for Choi, Shin was also kidnaped and reunited with Choi after five years of imprisonment. Kim Jong-il declared them his personal filmmakers and the couple went on to make seventeen films for the dictator before their escape.

Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it “one of the most staggeringly strange cases of Stockholm syndrome in history – and surely the weirdest story ever to have emerged from world cinema.” Watch the trailer. Get in the line!

Trailer here


Director: Midi Z. Country:  Taiwan, Myanmar, France, Germany. Language: Burmese, Thai

Around the world, there are a growing number of illegal immigrants from a war zone seeking refuge in a peaceful, more prospective neighbouring country. Premiered at the Venice Days section, Midi Z’s The road to Mandalay is a powerful and tragic love story about two illegal Burmese immigrants fleeing their country’s civil war, on a struggle to survive the big city of Bangkok where an individual is just a human capital with numbers.

The disturbing account of their experience got it the Critic’s award at the Venice Film Festival along with unanimous good reviews.

Trailer here

THE SALESMAN (Forushande)

Director: Asgar Farhadi. Country: Iran. Language: Farsi

Because two words are enough – Asgar. Farhadi.

Trailer here

unnamedThe 5th Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), which will be held from November 3 to 6th, 2016, at the Tibetan Children’s Village, Dharamshala, has announced its programme of films.

DIFF is curated by festival directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, along with associate director Raman Chawla, filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni (short films programme) and children’s media specialist Monica Wahi (children’s films programme).

– 15 filmmakers from across India and the world will present their work at DIFF 2016. Most of the films this year have been screened at prestigious international festivals and several are making their Indian premieres.

– Raam Reddy’s critically acclaimed Thithi will be the opening night film.

– Vetrimaran’s compelling Tamil drama Interrogation (India’s 2016 Oscar entry) will close the festival.

Feature documentaries:

  • Wojciech Staroń’s Brothers (Poland)
  • Steffi Giaracuni’s Didi Contractor: Marrying the Earth to the Building (Switzerland)
  • Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog (France, USA)
  • Mickey Lemle’s The Last Dalai Lama? (USA)
  • Stanzin Dorjai Gya and Christiane Mordelet’s The Shepherdess of the Glaciers (France, India)
  • Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s Sonita (Germany, Switzerland, Iran)
  • Sean McAllister’s A Syrian Love Story (UK, France, Lebanon, Syria)
  • Pushpa Rawat’s The Turn (India)
  • Nguyễn Trinh Thi’s Vietnam the Movie (Vietnam)


Feature Narratives (International)

  • Pimpaka Towira’s The Island Funeral (Thailand)
  • Portmanteau film Ten Years (Hong Kong)
  • Jeon Soo-il’s A Korean in Paris (South Korea)
  • Wang Yichun’s What’s in the Darkness (China)
  • Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice (Singapore)
  • Evi Goldbrunner’s At Eye Level (Germany)              
  • Khyentse Norbu’s Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait (Bhutan)         
  • Esen Isik’s Köpek (Switzerland)
  • Ara Chawdhury’s Miss Bulalacao (Phillipines)
  • Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria (Germany)    
  • Emir Baigazin’s The Wounded Angel (Kazakhstan)


Indian features

  • Raam Reddy’s Thithi
  • Vetrimaran’s Interrogation
  • Sanjeev Kumar’s Circles of the Mind
  • Mangesh Joshi’s Lathe Joshi
  • Rajiv Ravi’s Kammatipaadam
  • Umesh Kulkarni’s Highway
  • Bauddhyan Mukherji’s The Violin Player


Short films (International)

  • Tenzin Dasel and Rémi Caritey’s Royal Café (France)          
  • Kristóf Deák’s Sing (Hungary)         


Indian Short Films

  • Prabhjit Dhamija’s Asmad 
  • Hardik Mehta’s Famous in Ahmedabad
  • Pankaja Thakur’s The Guide
  • Chaitanya Tamhane’s Six Strands
  • Nishant Roy Bombarde’s The Threshold
  • Payal Sethi’s Leeches
  • Nina Sabnani’s We Make Images
  • Gurvinder Singh’s Infiltrator

–  Special local interest this year comes in the form of our Spotlight on Kangra Valley programme, which features Dharamshala director Sanjeev Kumar’s feature Man de Phere (Gaddi language);Prabhijit Dhamijia’s short Asmad and Steffi Giaracuni’s documentary about a legendary Himachal architect, Didi Contractor: Marrying the Earth to the Building.

– DIFF 2016 will also present a selection of single-channel video installations from Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary’s private collection: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s Collapseand The Incidental Insurgents (Parts 1 and 2), and Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s Some Questions on the Nature of Your Existence.

– Further information on all of these films is available here.

– Online registration for DIFF 2016 is available through Book My Show here.