Archive for October, 2015

Mumbai Film Festival – our annual movie ritual is on. And like every year, we are going to cover the festival like nobody else does it. moiFightClub regulars and readers will bring you all the day’s reccos and reviews.

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Impressions :

So all Bombay-based movie buffs’ saalana urs, karvachauth, maah-e-ramzaan, navratri all rolled into one started today. The process of collection of badges and booklet/bag was very smooth and BookMyShow folks are doing a great job. Also the bag this year looks very aesthetic and sturdy. “Sabziyaan laane ke kaam aa sakta hai” in the long run.

On the screening front, films were on time and ran smoothly except for the morning slots where two films got postponed due to technical issues. But I don’t think many complained as they were replaced by additional-screenings of Sorrentino’s YOUTH.

In a way, YOUTH turned out to be the ‘Murder’ of Day 1. As the legend goes, many small town cinema halls in North India keep a print or ‘Murder’ with them always and whenever a big-film flops on Monday, they put up ‘Murder’ and it gets them the audience.

I managed to catch 3 films today.

Heavenly Nomadic (Original title: SUTAK) by Mirlan Abdykalykov

This Kyrgistani film was my random replacement option for the postponed Lobster (which I caught later in the day), and it wasn’t a bad choice. A tribal nomadic family of a little girl living with her mother and grandparents in the stunning rolling-plains of Kyrgistan, where every one is dealing with the death of the girl’s father in his/her own way made for a (film festival jargon mein kahein toh) ‘meditative’, quaint little film. The myths of nomads, the modernity knocking their ancient hills down, the collision of civilisations so to say – all was weaved in quite effortlessly here.

Realistic performances, great sound design and cinematography, and a script of simple ambitions. Not mind-blowing but nothing to dislike here.

Mountains May Depart (Original title: Shan He Gu Ren) by Jia Zhangke

Jia Zhangke’s last film – A TOUCH OF SIN – was very powerful so the expectations were high from this one. It didn’t leave me disappointed but quite dissatisfied. Divided in 3 parts, spanning 26-years in the lives of its characters (last part is set in 2025!) originating from small-town China, it again looks at the country’s social-political dilemmas (chasing America/Capitalism while trying to retain its own legacy) through Zhangke’s allegorical episodes. The first part involving a love triangle especially looked like a bad Hindi film from the 90s (‘Saajan’ instantly came to mind). The film gets better as it goes on and the third episode is the best, both technically as well as in its ambition.

The film keeps switching POVs and that’s a victory of sorts for the director to keep it all tied together in spite of this device, but it also keeps the viewer unsettled throughout.

The Lobster by Yargos Lanthimos

Simply brilliant! A futuristic dystopian look at relationships but via allegorical devices so twisted that it looks like a Kubrick-directed episode of SNL’s ‘Lowered Expectations’ sketch. Revealing anything of the plot will be an unnecessary hindrance to your experience so go into this one blank and be ready for a bullet through your brain & testicles/ovaries. Deeply funny, insightful, and subversive – and at the same time, a perfectly crafted relationship drama. Last chunk gets a bit drawn out, but all genius has space for (as Fabindia calls them) hand-crafted defects.

And ah, it stars some really big names in relatively minor roles. Unmissable.

– Varun Grover

The Train Leaves At Four (Train Chaar Baje Ki Hai) by Antariksh Jain
(Disclaimer – walked in 3-4 min late)

This slow minimal documentary spends maximum time allowing the protagonists – the villagers going about their daily lives, and is a candid capture of the atmosphere and mundaness in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh. The director seems to have let the family members be and dubbed their voices/conversations later. Many frames & scenes are particularly noteworthy – the two villagers talking about their children escaping the ‘trap’ of farming by studying; the child trying to quench her thirst somewhat inefficiently from the hand-pump while the lazy students are seated in the background in the run down school; the one scene where one of the brothers teaches his toddler the skill that has been passed on from generations to generations in his family – how to ensnare a murga using twigs & stones; the desire to escape someplace better than this village in which nothing happens; the women folk their food gathering activities; and the pre-climax sequence involving the overburdened train at the station. In the absence of a narration this does prove to be a difficult watch but the subject matter is so depressing that one cannot help not being moved by it. As we call it at mFC, this is Need-Some-Patience genre.

Mountains May Depart (Shānhé gùrén) by Zhanke Jia

Directed by Zhanke Jia who made the eccentric but arresting Touch Of Sin earlier, this one is divided into three chapters. Do NOT BE DISAPPOINTED BY the 1st chapter which turns out to be a 70s/80s Hindi film love triangle, but if you stay long enough, the other two chapters have enough drama & life to make up for the 1st one. People move on, relationships change, Life doesn’t have great occurrences but usually indifferent and cold instances/events, Parents & Children who almost never seem to be reciprocating their feelings/thoughts to one another simultaneously, an unusual romantic track – may be in retrospect I’m being too lenient to this film. But do watch it.

The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos

Something tells me this is one of the most f***ed up films of MAMI 2015. What a delightfully black humored watch from the director of Dogtooth. More an ‘exploration’ than a destination film, this one boasts of excellent writing, cinematography, performances from everyone. Shuru kaahaan hoti hai, aur kahaan se kahaan jaati hai – is incredible. DO NOT MISS THIS at any cost.

– @nagrathnam

Jia Zhangke: A Guy From Fenyang by Walter Salles

Walter Salles’s essay on the very personal roots of Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke’s cinema – Jia has won worldwide acclaim for his films yet most of them remain banned in China.

This film explores how the insularity & deprivation of Jia’s early years came to influence the social-realism of his cinema. This is a sparse & simply told documentary with a lot of Jia in it & a lot of clips from his old films. Luckily Jia is a warm, charming & humane presence & his personality dictates the tone of the film as well. I was engrossed & fascinated despite not being too familiar with his work. Unexpected pleasure was the sight of Jia singing ‘Awaara hunn’!

@sumit roy

From Afar (Desde allá) by Lorenzo Vigas

Debutant director Lorenzo Vigas’ strikes unique right from the first minute of the film. While the narrative is kept relatively simple and minimal, the distinct use of shallow focus to establish the alienated spheres of the characters is what makes it intriguing. Have hardly seen lensing used so uniquely to build scenes through the cumulative elements of each shot. Not once(hope my memory serves me right) does the focus shift from one character to the other, much like the dormant fear of relationships each character shares. Must watch!

@suyashkamat

Land And Shade (La tierra y la sombra) by César Augusto Acevedo

With all the fest-bait adjectives of long shot, languid pace, leisurely treatment, devoid of colours, this one is of uncompromising vision and an assured debut. The director César Augusto Acevedo channels his inner ghosts to bring out a poignant story of a family dealing with loss – of land and relationship. No wonder it picked up the Camera d’Or at Cannes.

Room by Lenny Abrahamson

A heartwarming tale of a mother-son duo who have been held captive in a “Room”. As you keep wondering where will the film move next, it keeps surprising you, and achieves the closure in a beautiful manner, raising some difficult moral questions along the way. Adapted from Emma Donoghue’s novel, this film belongs to child actor Jacob Tremblay who is absolutely stunning in every scene. This one is a Must Watch.

– @notsosnob

As part of our Mumbai Film Festival coverage, we will also be running previews of some of the interesting and lesser known films. This is the first post in the series.

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‘The Train Leaves At Four’ is a docu-fiction film of about 57 minutes. The film was shot with a family belonging to the ‘Baiga’ tribe, living in remote Madhya Pradesh. The film has been written and directed by Antariksh Jain.

Official Synopsis

As Lamu packs his sack to migrate towards the city to work along with the labour contractor, his aging mother grieves in silence. Even her other two sons are not around to console her.

While the eldest is working on the field, the youngest has set out early this morning towards the government office. He hopes to be employed in the village itself. Those hopes are soon shattered though and he is left overwhelmed. Much of what goes on in the government office – the official paperwork, the government schemes is lost in translation.

By the evening, as Lamu waits for the train to arrive, the contractor’s condescending attitude and stinginess already makes it clear that he has signed up for a disaster, and it is too late for him to go back.

Meanwhile, crestfallen and influenced by his brother, the youngest too confronts his mother and expresses a desire to leave for the city.

MFF Screening

Fri, 30‐Oct – PVR ECX Screen 4 – 11:15 AM
Sun, 01 ‐ Nov Phoenix Screen -3 – 7:15 PM

Trailer

For more info on the film, click here.

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As Mumbai Film Festival is all set to start, we are back with our film recco post. But this year, we have not made our list. We have taken the easy way out – compiled the list of all the film reccos done by others. So here you go…

– Rediff film reviewer and festival programmer Aseem Chhabra’s pick – 10 movies you must see at MAMI (The Apu Trilogy, The Club, From Afar, Junun, Mia Madre, Placebo, Virgin Mountain, The Second Mother, Sworn Virgin, Youth)

– Mint Lounge’s reviewer Uday Bhatia list of 10 Films – by First time directors (Ixcanul Volcano, Land And Shade, Thithi, Cities Of Sleep, Interruption, Island City, The Head Hunter, Turbo Kid, Kaili Blues, Mina Walking)

– First Post reviewer Mihir Fadnavis on fest’s new segment,After Dark – a list of bizarre horror movies (Ludo, Stung, American Burger, Deathgsm, Tag)

– Fadnavis also has a list of 10 Films You Must Watch + Some More (The Forbidden Room, Mountains May Depart, The Lobster, Dheepan, Room, Taxi, Heavenly Nomadic, Tangerine, Ixcanul Volcano, He Named Me Malala)

– MAMI Chairperson and filmmaker Kiran Rao’s pick of 5 Must Watch Films (Dheepan, The Boy And The World, Blue, Mountains May Depart, Restored copies of Pyaasa and all Chetan Anand films)

– Writer and blogger Satyanshu Singh’s long list of film recco is here. Has info on many fest winners.

If you have googled the films and made your list, or found a good list than we haven’t mentioned, do let us know in the comments section. We will update the post.

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After writers and scientists, filmmakers have joined the protest in raising their voice against the murders of rationalist author MM Kalburgi, activist Govind Pansare, and in support of FTII students. The 10 filmmakers include Anand Patwardhan, Dibakar Banerjee, Nishtha Jain, Paresh Kamdar, Kriti Nakhwa, Harshvardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai.

And here’s the full text of their letter to the President and PM.

To,

The President and the Prime Minister of India,

New Delhi

Dear Sir,

It is with a deep sense of dismay that we write to you. Many of the undersigned had written a letter to you barely a month ago in support of the demands of the students of FTII. We had urged you to intervene and ensure that FTII continues to be a stellar educational institution with a commitment to freedom of expression.

The student strike has entered the 4th month. The issue remains unresolved and our sense of apprehension about the fate of the institute has only grown. We have seen the students conduct their protest in a democratic manner with utmost dignity. We have also seen an attack on their credibility mounted in the most disgraceful manner in the press by the very people who were meant to be their guardians on campus- the director and the registrar. The ministry has seemingly offered a patient hearing to the students no less than 5 times over 4 months yet have made no attempt to put into place a transparent process to make key appointments to the people who are meant to give vision to the institute. They have expressed an inability to reverse the process that provoked this strike. We see this as a blatant disregard for the voice of these students.

It has also become imperative that we see the government’s stone walling of the students’ protest in a context. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has appointed people with a narrow vision in the institutions under them. FTII, Children’s Film Society and CBFC are examples that the film fraternity has objected to.

Meanwhile, we have watched the murders of rationalists and writers like Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M.Kalburgi with dismay. These are clearly not random acts of violence. People are being murdered for their beliefs and opinions. There seems to be no attempt to unravel the larger picture and bring to book extremist groups that believe in ruthless violence to eliminate those who hold a counter view from theirs. There has been no official condemnation of these groups and we question this silence.

The lynching and murder of an ironsmith, Mohammed Akhlaq, in a village at the edge of our national capital has shattered our faith in the spirit of tolerance that is the core of our robust democracy. The mob that stood at this poor Muslim man’s house had been empowered by the belief that this was an acceptable way to express rage. The current climate has validated this sentiment. Those who stand outside the circle drawn by the ruling elite are vulnerable in the most appalling manner. It has now come to light that members of the party that rule at the Centre led the mob. It is imperative that we take note of the impunity with which the mob was instigated. No condemnation is complete without naming the politically powerful who scripted this attack.

We are filmmakers who have been awarded by your most esteemed office. We hold that to be a high honour. Our cinema represents a rich diversity of political opinions and aesthetic expression. It was a matter of great pride for us that the government of India had awarded this plurality. If we do not stand up and register our protest now we are in the danger of being a part of the process that is flattening out our beautiful landscape of diversity. Freedom of expression are not mere words for us, it is a way of life we hold dear. Each life led differently from the mainstream is precious, we must fight for this right to pray, eat, love, work as we wish.

We feel compelled to return the honour that the State had bestowed on us. This is not an attempt to undermine your office but a heartfelt plea. Condoling deaths without interrogating the forces that scripted those murders reveals a tacit acceptance of the ugly forces distorting our country. The Government of India must urgently reveal its commitment to protect the freedom of expression of each citizen. We, the undersigned, stand alongside the writers who have returned the country’s highest literary honour and hereby return our National Awards. As filmmakers we stand firmly with the students of FTII and are determined to not let them shoulder the entire burden of their protests. They have mounted a historic struggle and we urge others within our fraternity to come forward and carry this protest forward.

List of signatories

1. Dibakar Banerjee
Film: Khosla Ka Ghosla (2007)
Film: Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye (2009)

2. Anand Patwardhan
Film: Bombay Our City (1984)

3. Paresh Kamdar
Film: Rasyatra (1995)

4. Nishtha Jain
Film: Gulaabi Gang (2014)

5. Kirti Nakhwa
Film: Lost & Found (2008)

6. Harshavardhan Kulkarni
Film: Lost & Found (2008)

7. Hari Nair
Film: Sham’s Vision (1997)

8. Rakesh Sharma
Film: Final Solution (2006)

9. Indraneel Lahiri
Film: Aamar Katha, Story of Binodini (2014)

10. Lipika Singh Darai
Film: Gaarud (2009)
Film: Eka Gachha Eka Mainsha Eka Samudra ( a tree a man a sea) (2012)
Film: Kankee O Saapo ( dragonfly and snake) (2013)

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11 Storytellers. 11 Perspectives. One Crazy night!
11 eclectic filmmakers come together to bring you one exciting cinematic vision.

That’s how the makers of “X” have described their film. Interestingly, it’s one-of-its-kind film because eleven Indian filmmakers with disparate styles of filmmaking have come together for this one.

So what is it about? Here’s the official synopsis

A filmmaker with a mid life crisis meets a mysterious young girl who reminds him of his first girlfriend at first, and subsequently, of every woman in his life.

Who is she? Is she real or imaginary? A stalker or a ghost? His past catching up or a character from the script he is writing?

Do check out its new trailer. The film releases on 20th November, 2015.

Cast & Crew

Cast: Aditi Chengappa, Bidita Bag, Gabriella Schmidt, Huma Qureshi, Neha Mahajan, Parno Mitra, Pia Bajpai, Pooja Ruparel, Radhika Apte, Richa Shukla, Rii Sen, Swara Bhaskar, Anshuman Jha and Rajat Kapoor

Directed by: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Nalan Kumarasamy, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath and Suparn Verma

Written by: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath, Suparn Verma and Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Directors of Photography: Anuj Dhawan, Aseem Bajaj, Dinesh Krishnan, Gairik Sarkar, Katyayani Mudholkar, Maeve O Connell, Q, Ravi K Chandran, Sandeep Mohan, Siddhartha Nuni, Sidharth Kay and Viraj Sinh Gohil

Edited by: Sreekar Prasad, Vijay Prabakaran, Vijay Venkataramanan, Biplab Goswami, Gairik Sarkar, Dhritiman Das, Shreyas Beltangdy, Ankit Srivastava, Ninaad Khanolkar

Post Production Management & Grading: Siddharth Meer

Sound Mix: Dipankar Jojo Chaki

Lyrics: Pratyush Prakash & Raja Sen

Music: Sudeep Swaroop

Additional Screenplay: Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Executive Producers: Shiladitya Bora & Sudhish Kamath

Produced by: Manish Mundra/Drishyam Films

 

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Recyclewala Films have started a new project – Story Search. They are looking for stories that can be developed into film scripts.

– The Script hunt has started from October 14th and will end on November 14th , 2015.

– All they need is a story written out in text format in Hindi or English within 5-10 pages in Arial, 12 point font.

– The selected entries will be announced on 25th November 2015, each of whom will be given a Rs. 5,00,000 script development fund and will get an opportunity to turn their idea into a script, and then a film.

– For more details and submission, click here or here.

Like every year, Kartik Krishnan has done his good deed again. For movie buffs who plan to watch back to back films at Mumbai Film Festival, the day wise schedule is always the best thing to refer to. So here it is.

And say thanks to Kartik and Yashpal who burnt their midnight oil on this.

You can check the embedded document, download it from Scribd, or you can download it directly from HERE.

But if you prefer the venue wise schedule, go here to download it.