Since the day MAMI unveiled its line-up for the Mumbai Film Festival 2011, we all have been waiting eagerly for it to start. Just back from the screenings of Day 2, more cinema, better company and some more conversations. Today’s score – five films, five burgers, tea-coffee, cold drinks and few gallons of water. Dead tired now and so it will be mostly short and sweet ( read copy-pasting the tweets). Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly report of Opening ceremony, Day 1 and Day 2.
Registration – The online system worked fine. Even the registration desk at the venue is quite efficient. Though heard about some bad experience on the first day but when i went, it just took 5 minutes to get my registration done. Also, good job with all the updates through the festival twitter handle – @mumbaifilmfest.
Opening Ceremony – Whoever came up with the idea of this shortest possible opening ceremony in the history of film festivals, he/she deserves applause. Late year it was a mess. This year the venue was Cinemax Versova. There is no place for the ceremony other than the lobby. So a small dais was created at the centre and sitting arrangements were made in all three directions. By the time we entered the lobby there was no place to sit or stand. But since the wait wasn’t long, we were happy. The main issue was the pass – opening film Moneyball was by invitation only. But thanks to those good souls who helped us out. All of us managed to watch it.
Moneyball – Good film to open the fest with. You have the stars but not completely hollywood and there’s a good buzz around it. The film was so little about Baseball and more about one man’s persistence. Jonah Hill stole the show. With such a fine command over his craft director Bennett Miller is surely going to have a long run. Capote and Moneyball – there is no common ground but both brilliantly directed. The best part of the film was the way it’s shot. Not sure how you define it technically, it was dark, moody, half-lit frames, atmosphere that you can breathe in. Or as Ebert wrote, this is a melancholy movie.
Opening Day Highlight – We suddenly saw that Hong-jin Na, director of Chaser and The Yellow Sea, was sitting in front of us. Varun Grover almost kissed him.
Post-film – Thanks to those good souls again, we went to Sun n Sand, Juhu for the opening ceremony party. As expected, it was too crowded. And the cinema bakchodi continued till late hours.
Recruited Love (Zwerbowana Milosc) – Police, prostitution, politics and the politics of love. It’s like Polish version of Lives Of Others which is absolutely brilliant and do watch it if you still haven’t. This one turned hollywoodish thriller mid-way and then redeemed itself a bit in the end.
The Turin Horse (A Torinoi Lo)- We managed to catch the first 20 mins, some without subtitles, bit of it in wrong aspect ratio and then it stopped suddenly. The Horse was killed. We had no choice but to walk out. It was re-scheduled for 10pm.
Deool (Temple) – It was the opening film of the Indian Frame and its director Umesh Kulkarni is one of my favourite filmmakers. He goes to the other extreme with this one, far departure from all his shorts and features. Revolves around the madness, mess and marketing of religion, and Godly affairs in a small village. The stamp of Kulkarni is very much there – characters, humour, plot, but with item numbers and dhol-nagadas going dhoom-dhaam-dhadaap, it went into the Peepli Live zone. Always thought that Kulkarni loves playing with silence, this time it was the opposite. It could have been another kind of Ghabricha Paus too (a brilliant black comedy on farmers suicide issue) but Deool is too ambitious, wants to deal with too many affairs, reflect too many sides and it’s too noisy. It’s easy to understand what the film is trying to do but it’s difficult to endorse this one completely. It’s releasing soon in the theatres. Do watch it.
The Salesman (Le Vendeur) – There is something surreal about an old white man with white hair struggling in a completely white background (snow + sun) on a sunny day. But it could not go beyond the obvious. Too long and offers too little. The lead actor carries the film on his shoulder. By the time it ends, you just want to hug and comfort him.
The Turin Horse (A Torinoi Lo) – We tried our luck again. This time it was a bad copy with time code running on it. The subtitle was correct but it again stopped suddenly after 30mins or so. They killed the dead horse again. We had no choice but to leave. It was re-scheduled again for Day 2 at 10pm.
There was problem with the screening of My Little Princess too. The technical head of the screenings needs to wake up, smell the coffee and check the prints and the projection before showing the films. Don’t embarrass yourself so badly! Day 1 and major problems in three screenings – wow, that’s some score!
The Slut (Hanotenet) – With a title like this, it’s bound to get some attention. But with a female director who also plays the lead role, the gaze is completely different. Takes its own sweet time to unfold and the worst thing you fear, the director goes for it, ending it on a very disturbing note. Has male and female nudity and a long sex scene.
Distance (Distancia) – I thought NSP (Needs Some Patience) genre will be enough to describe some of the films selected for the fest. But this one is NLP where L is for Lots, and lots and lots more. There is so much story that you just hear but don’t see on screen. Was dead by the time it got over.
Generation P – Quite a heady cocktail of art, culture, religion, pop, politics, philosophy, advertising, consumerism and Che Guevara. Who better than Che to answer some advertising questions. After all who sells more T-shirts than him? A trippy experience where it’s difficult to get all the religious and political context but worth a watch. It’s like an installation art of our pop-culture.
Generation P – Q & A – A QnA session with Victor Ginzburg, director of the Generation P was scheduled after the film. But since the poor soul was lost as there was nobody to do the Q and A, we decided to do an informal discussion. We tried our luck at The Artist but the queue was so long that it went up to the Landmark store on the next floor. We thought QnA was a better idea. The Artist was given another screening at 10pm. The director of the film VG told us that big brands (Coke, Nike and many others which feature in the film) gave him money to make fun of the brands in the film. That’s rare and what a fun it was. He was also unhappy about the bad projection of his film.
Chinese Take Away – We wanted to watch it but it has been re-scheduled on Monday 10am Screen 3.
Michael – We knew that this was the Uneasy film of the fest but had no clue that it would turn out to be so bloody brilliant. Waited in queue for almost 1 hour and it was worth it. Inspired by real life incidents, Michael looks at the day-to-day life of a paedophile who has locked up a 10 year old in a cellar. It sounds creepy and disturbing but the film is completely non-judgmental. Who are these paedophiles? How do they look? Do they come from a different planet? The director doesn’t go for the shock value but gives it a human face and captures the predatory relationship in a unique way that will stay with you for a long time after the film gets over. Easily the best of the fest so far. Must watch.
The Artist– We tried our luck again. As soon as Michael got over, we ran through the exit to be in the queue for the film. But by the time we reached, the queue was already about a kilometer long. This time we managed. A delicious love letter to the silent era, the film not only sets the story in that period and captures the era beautifully, but it also uses all the film-making tools of that era to tell a simple love story that we have seen million times. But the magic is in “how” and not “what”. With almost no dialogues, the lead actors don’t just act, they make you fall in love with them. Easy to understand why it was the Cannes favourite earlier this year. Aha, the magic of movies!
DAY 2 Highlight – Kartik Krishnan suddenly spotted a actor who had played the role of a Don in Bobby Deol’s Bichhoo. Remember? Nobody does. But we still tried to capture him. Varun went to him and asked him about Bichhoo. Kartik was right. Check out the pic – the bald guy in the background.
Enough for today. Tomorrow is another day. Mihir Desai‘s film Aakra-Man is playing with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling’s The Ides of March, and he is trying to copy their act as you can see in the picture. Good luck, Aakra-Man!
See you at the movies!
(PS – It’s been great fun meeting all those people whom we know only by their twitter handles. The world is indeed small and round.)
( PS1 – To read more about the festival films, click here to read Varun’s blog who is trying to write a fest diary.)