Archive for November 2, 2010

Screeny reports. Lil late but our dear Screeny was busy with his writing assignments. So, here it is….read on…see what you missed, what you must-watch and more. Key words, as always, in BOLD.

Something about Commonwealth games and ‘international’ events hosted in India, that leaves a very ‘epic fail’ taste or after taste in your mouth. It’s like the perfect wedding – that is a myth. Or a perfect film. Almost never happens. Somebody someone something has to screw up. And when it happens the first time, you don’t think about it, but before you know the screw ups are outrageously glaring and difficult to ignore.

Don’t get me started on the whole delegate pass info. Turns out the delegate registration was ‘outsourced’ to someone else – so the people at the registration point to the volunteers who point to the info book (or schedule if you please) which is not the bible of all questions. So we get pointed back to the counter. Lovely cache-22 circle. But that’s ok I guess.

Opening Day

Was restricted to ‘invitees only’. But being in the good books of some friends – got my pass and managed to scrape in. Unfair – accepted. Saw some of the lesser known filmmakers waiting outside for a pass. They missed the opening ceremony and the screening of The Social Network.

The ceremony was emceed by the gorgeous bimbettes Minisha Laamba & Prachi Desai (both I think were roped in thanks to the BIG Pictures connection – Well done Abba & Rock On) . It was hilarious to see Prachi Desai quote Kafka in her speech (I wish I had a camera). They screwed up the opening speeches & intro to the jury – were not aware of which jury members were present. And there was an insult to the ‘spirit of Mumbai’ by the TDLLC or whatever dance troupe who put up a staggeringly boring 20 minute long skit (WTF if you will). Read here for more fauxpas.

The Social Network – Sound of Chandan theater was a little screwed up –at times I wished the film had subtitles – the lines are soooo fast and at times tough to follow – but had read the unput-downable script and I could kind of follow the action. You feel for the lead and at times I was reminded of Aviator/Guru but still, it is a pretty good film to be made out of such a ‘talk-heavy’ film. I loved it.

Day 1

There Are Things You Don’t Know – the premise looks like an Iranian Taxi driver. Was nothing much in the film to write about. Slow pace (nice) but doesn’t lead to anything. Avoid.

Poetry – Didn’t see it. But looked like a Korean Senti Penti film. Those who saw it liked it. And apparently so did Manirathnam & Suhasini (jury member – she mentioned the film on the opening day). So, check it out.

Mama Gogo – He’s a ‘art’ filmmaker in Iceland – his films flop and there is little money. His mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and his sisters don’t get along with the mom. A rather moving tale from Iceland. Won an award at MAMI too.

Howl – One of the most imaginative films I saw at the festival. Milk meets Ismat-Manto Haazir hain (court case on an artist for literary obscenity) meets animation sketches. Highly highly recommended. Bizarrely creative & engrossing.

Boiling Point – My first intro to Takashi Kitano – How how how did I miss his films up till now. Brilliant brilliant – have fallen in love with his films. Getting hold of the rest. Now I know where the famous dead pan actors’ cut aways in Satya & Company have come from.

Other good film recco – Budrus, Sway, Twice a woman – I didn’t see them but friends who did, were praising the same.

Day –  2

Undertow – Peruvian film selected for Oscars 2010. The beaches, small village community, the music, paintings, the traditions. Better than Brokeback Mountain. Sensitive film with a spirit (no pun intended).

If I want to whistle I whistle – another Oscar nominee Romanian film. Juveniles in prison, Dog day afternoon sort of situation. Excellent acting by the lead. Must watch.

RETRATOS EN UN MAR DE MENTIRAS – brilliant road coming of the age film – liberal doses of black humor sprinkled in towards the end. Liked it a lot. Recco.

Semshook – an Indian Indie film directed by Siddarth kumar and written by Sudip Sharma – this film traces the journey of a young Tibetan born and brought up in india going to his ‘home’ in Tibet – the people he meets on the way – the poetry – the bitter sweet experiences – Into the wild – lovely visuals – somewhat long but the heart in the right place. Was somewhat disappointed to see such a low turnout from the ‘filmy-bollywoood’ crowd in support of this film. Do catch this film whenever it plays at the next film fest. Highly recommended.

R – Another superbly realistic prison drama shot on Red Camera – tracing the journey of a inmate from his inception in the jail – to his first ‘crime’ – to his joining the gang – to the eventual sad conclusion – very different from Prophet. Bound to have comparisons but still, the films stands on its own. Only the hero was a professional actor and the rest all were ex-convicts. The dialogue improvised and the film scripted with much research and honesty. Loved it. It also won a MAMI award.

BIUTIFUL – There was a near stampede for this film. Luckily they screened it the following day at two screens and I could catch it. Reminded me of Kamal Hassan’s Mahandi albeit in a very different way. Javier Bardem & Inniratu are God.

Makes you cry at times. Some scenes are devastatingly emotional, guilt laden spiralling journeying into depths of depravity. Watch it – Oh god, what a film! Watch it – Highly recco.

Other good reccos – Honey(bal), White Ribbon, October, Bright Star

Day – 3

A Screaming Man – A father-son drama – father forced to give his pool attendant job to his son thanks to recession. The loneliness of the father, the envy/competition, the poor family, the civil war in the country, the father’s journey to try and set things right, the conclusion. An extremely sensitive drama film which has a stupendous performance by the lead actor. Just felt going and hugging my father after this film. Lovely lovely watch – highly reccomended.

Good Night Good Morning – another indie film, made by journo turned filmmaker sudish kamath – a guy meeting a girl at a bar and calling her up on a drive with friends. She sitting at a hotel waiting for her transit flight the next morning – the 8 stages of romance. Some good writing and very good performances by the lead & ensemble – but the film somehow didn’t nail it for me.

Outrage – Takeshi kitano again. Gangster Characters almost in a yogic like state – long takes in which nothing seems to be happening and suddenly something/someone perks up the frame. The violence, the humor, the almost Zen like background score, and the inter gang rivalry- the ‘rumpus’. Superb. Watch it and please burn me a copy.

Catterpillar – A perversely morbid war drama sexual film which could have been so much better but for the director’s fetish with sex. Avoid.

Other good reccos which I couldn’t catch but heard good things about – Lola, Departures, The Professor and His Beloved Equation

Day – 4

Sweet evil – Starts out like a film about a girl from orphanage running away – and finding shelter at a judge’s house. (For a minute I was reminded of the Neetu singh, Jeetendra, Shree ram lagoo starrer Chorni – laugh all you may but am serious) Hoping that the judge (who doesn’t have children of his own) will adopt her – but the film goes into the Lolita zone – and then into something purely evil. Makes you wanna kill the bitch. A very interesting film. Recco.

Khandhar – Mrinal Sen, Nasseruddin shah, pankaj kapoor, shabana azmi, a witty annu kapoor. Need we say more ? Watch it. Just a BIG note of discord here – The film begins with a clip of the original print & the restored print, side by side – both frames occupying the screen – with the restored print clip having a watermark BIG Media works (or something of the sort) – Fair enough. Good job done. But MOTHER*^%*$% A&% the clip goes onto play the whole 3-4 scenes from the film – running comfortably for not 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes but SEVEN FRIGGIN MINUTES. WTF!!!

People come to see the film and the film begins with a lovely 7 minute self congratulatory message of how great BIG Pictures is and how great a job they have done with the films restoration – all for SEVEN MINUTES BEFORE THE OPENING CREDITS.

Do they really think us audiences are cunts ? I mean if you wanna do PR – fair enough – do it for a minute – but friggin 7 minutes ???? Many people walked out of the screening. There were abuses being hurled at the screen at such an insult to the audience and indeed an insult to the filmmaker himself.

We are here to see the film sir, not your friggin advertisement. Such a self congratulatory –self serving attitude-gall. Just goes onto show there is a reason why Kites, Raavan, Karzz, Do Knot Disturb, Kall kisne dekha hai and many such fucked up films flopped big time. Probably because of the self serving-know it all attitude.

My Mother Is A Whore – Superbly deviant film, an instance here and there reminded me of the acclaimed Tamil hit Paruthiveeran. Shot on DV – low budget – sad and real. Some moments in the film are truly seen to be believed. Though at times may be a little too much deviance may be. But loved the actor-writer-director. More power to him. Highly reccomended.

More recco – The Killer Queen, Aftershock

Day 5 & 6

Couldn’t see many films due to some errands.

Dooman river – Has a lot of subtext and politics to it. A decent watch – North Korea Soth korea border. Not in the league of Joint Security Area but still.

Crows – by takashi mike – student gang war set in school. Pretty ‘commercial’ film with even a rock song to boot. Enjoyable and unlike Audition & Itchi, not so gory.

Harud – Another film I was really looking forward to, but was kind of disappointed. Brilliant cinematography, the lead says little and is almost martin-sheen-uesque (Apocalypse now). The film captures the everyday nuances of the strife ridden Kashmir. But sadly, that’s what the film is limited to. An everyday life of a kashmiri – almost a documentary or a Dardenne-ish film with little importance given to the ‘story’ or a dramatic point.

Yes, cinema is about reality but not just that. I really wish there was a threadbare narrative/story/central drama in the film – or if there was one, may be a little accentuated may be. That minor caveat apart – the film is pretty good. Kudos to Aamir Bashir & Shankar Raman. But can’t watch it more than once.

Other recco – Of Gods & Men, I am Kalam, Somewhere (dissappointing???), Certified copy. Also heard good things about The Virgin goat, A stone’s throw away, The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project and Mike Leigh’s Another Year.

The Forums – Skipped most of the forums but attended the one on screenwriting. Anjum Rajabali, Sudhir Mishra, Shama Zaidi & Sajid Khan (wooooooooooohhhhh). Sudhir Mishra & Anjum were trying to make the forum as civil as possible with questions being hurled left-right-center at Sajid Khan, who claimed he had ‘cracked’ the formula of what works with the audience. He believes in his cinema because that is what the audience wants, and he will serve it up to them.

Films like Satya, LSD, Tere Bin laden are ‘festival films’, Sajid said patronizingly – “Baatein cinema ki karte hain but spotboy ko dene ke liye paisey nahi hain”. Manish Gupta remarked that the reason not many screenwriters are left because all of them become directors out of frustration – seeing that their films are not made they wanted them to be – Anees Bazmee, Rumi jaffrey, anurag kashyap, abbas tyrewala, myself, Vikramaditya motwane. Sajid replied – 90% of the writer-director’s you have mentioned have made FLOP films. Well well well…. The very hot & talented actress Smriti Mishra asked some question which was only vaguely related to screenwriting and ended with “I’m an amazing actress”. My my … Also heard that people started teaching filmmaking to jury member Jane Campion, in her master class session. Boy, I missed that too but I can trust us audiences to ask the most stupid, rambling questions.

Closing Ceremony – Began with usual line up for passes & entry. Saw Ramesh Sippy, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sudhir Mishra, Shyam Benegal, the jury members & Oliver Stone. The awards were announced and except for the dimensions short films, we (Indians) didn’t win any award. The full winner list is here.

Some of the awards were even presented by giants like Akbar Khan, Inder Kumar, Kiran Juneja & Hriahita Bhatt. Wow !!! And none of these people had turned up to watch a single film – Social Network or Biutiful, let alone any of the ‘new wave’/world cinema/Indian films.

Apart from the usual fauxpas & the mis-organisation (which I must admit hosts Fardeen Khan & Raima sen tried their best to cover up and did an ok job at – better than the two ladies at the opening ceremony), the highpoint of the day was the rambling speech by Manoj Kumar (Lifetime Achievement Award winner) and the tribute to him by Mr Shut-up errr Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Manoj Kumar referred to Oliver Stone as “I wanted to duet with the Rock“. More priceless quotes were delivered like – “Our cameras are better than Cannon. Cameras create, Canon destroys”. We didn’t know where to look.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra went a step further, talking about his short film (either Murder at monkey hill or an encounter with faces, I don’t remember which one) which Manoj Kumar had seen saw and had remarked “It is rare that I’m moved by a film. Your film moved me” to a young Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Of course, the minute Manoj Kumar got the award and stepped down (and before Olive Stone could be invited on stage for his award) Mr Chopra walked out of the ceremony. I don’t know why.

The after party – was equally mis managed. Several (indian) indie filmakers were asked for a pass at the party whereas people like Aamir Bashir, the ‘phoren goras’, ‘chinkis’ & the more ‘famous’ ones weren’t asked. Apparently BIG pictures goes by rules, which are bent for the ‘white’ people, journalists, Bollywood stars, but not for the rest. And thanks to their lovely mismanagement, the filmmaker whose FRIGGIN FILM PLAYED AT MAMI was not given a pass despite him asking for it days in advance.

The one night of fame, meeting people and knowing how his film was and what the fraternity thought of his film was denied to him. Thankfully, he was saved by some friends who had obtained an extra pass. Though this small incident goes on to show what hara-kiri was happening.

The pandemoniums apart, the films showed at the festival were truly superb and superior. Wish the event was better organized though.