Continuing with our series on daily reccos and reviews of the films at Mumbai Film Festival, here’s the post on Day 4.

Our Day 1 Wrap is here, Day 2 is here and Day 3 is here.


Hong Kong Trilogy by Christopher Doyle

“Fuck the studios.”

Christopher Doyle’s latest documentary ‘Hong Kong Trilogy’ (Preschooled, Preoccupied, Preposterous) brought him to MAMI and what a joy it was for those 40-odd people who showed up to hear him talk pre and post the screening. Wish MAMI had advertised the fact more that he’ll be at the screening ‘cos each word of his Howard Beale-sque monologue about the studio system was a sword through makhmal. The highly experimental documentary, more like a poetry (running in voice-over) being interpreted in visuals is a collaboration between Doyle and Producer Jenny Suen and is bizarre and heartwarming in equal measures. BUT, the real fun was listening to Doyle saab – who has spent some time in Hazaribagh as a kid and thanked India for introducing him to a complex society that ultimately pushed him towards exploring arts.

He walked into the screening carrying a cricket bat (no idea how he got one!) and in the middle of replying to a query, he’d stop and play a shot or talk about fielding positions. That Aussie spirit is still kicking there inside him somewhere probably.

Some /highlights from his monologue (quoting from memory).

“Our tragedy is that we are stuck between a youtube on one side and a Harry Potter No. 75 on the other.”

“If you don’t make the film you want to make, Harvey Weinstein will enter your home and fuck your sister.”

“Fuck the studios.”

“Martin Scorsese stole our film and never even credited us.” (He was talking about Infernal Affairs.)

“Studios just want to make Fast and fucking Furious Number 68 and they don’t care about what you think.”

“How is your sex-life?” (On being asked how much Wong Kar Wai has influenced your style and vice versa.)

For more of these, try attending his Masterclass on 3th November, 4 pm. By hook or by crook.

KRISHA by Trey Edwards Shults

Winner of Grand Jury as well as the Audience Prize at SXSW, KRISHA is a fiercely indie family drama that starts as a comedy and quickly spirals into a grand collision of past secrets and tragedies. The highlights here are a super-experimental cinematography, background score, constant play with aspect ratios, and a breakneck edit in certain set-pieces. Though there is no connection whatsoever in terms of theme, this reminded me strongly of WHIPLASH. Brilliant.

Varun Grover

The Endless River by Oliver Hermanus

What happens when unexpected crime complicates life? Estev and Tiny suddenly find themselves in no man’s land when crude murder rocks their lives out of shape. Unconnected yet connected they try to assimilate it all, sometimes together, sometimes alone. There are million emotional strands to explore in this story and its characters but the film chooses to stay with the tried and tested one, making it a predictable journey both for the dramatic graph within the scene and overall. But one thing stayed with me, its music.

Hongkong Trilogy by Christopher Doyle

Maverick master DOP Doyle’s ‘HongKong Trilogy’ turned out to be as trippy as him. The film glimpses into the lives of regular Hongkong citizens, their stories told by them, in their own voices and through their individual stories painting a picture of contemporary Hongkong and its socio-political reality. The docu-fiction form and a heart bleeding for a certain ‘return to innocence’, gives the film a subdued charm. Also, the irregularity of the regular people highlighted through an intuitive selection of real-life stories casts a humane thread into the mix. Watching him speak with his theatrics galore was far more charming though🙂

Francofonia by  Alexander Sokurov

Documentary on Louvre? Jump, click, book. I wish it was as grand as I had imagined it to be but it was far more than that. The documentary explores the creation, maintenance and importance of Louvre, France’s beloved symbol of heritage, arts, nationality, history and much more in light of the Nazi invasion of WW II. It is a lovingly told documentary that is as whimsical as it is sentimental while being equally committed to historical facts and present political scenario. And it was this particular whimsy, imagination meeting history approach plus the tender meditativeness that gives this one its colour.

Kaul – A calling  by  Aadish Keluskar

I wanted to know if it would hold the second time round, it did. Severe projection issues at PVR Juhu notwithstanding, the narrative had me hooked despite the second viewing. It is a difficult film to watch and the projection issues just made matters worse. But I took back what I came to know, whether it works second time round or not, for me, it did.

Fatema Kagalwala

Day 4 at MAMI was as surreal as the other three, and continues to be a culture shock for me.  I didn’t see any of the films that I booked, randomly walked into three of them (with some pointers from Varun Grover) and it turned out to be a hell of a day.

MISSING PEOPLE by David Shapiro

Director David Shapiro’s documentary is one of the best films I saw at the fest.  I wouldn’t want to reveal anything about what it is any more than you would already know. I found the Q & A with David Shapiro, that followed the film, an extension of the film. I understood it better, could relate to it better. It forms an unlikely trilogy with Searching for Sugarman and Finding Vivian Maier, similar human stories that chillingly give you an insight into something more than you were prepared for. There’s a screening on 3rd with Q&A, do not miss!

HONGKONG TRILOGY by Christopher Doyle

A docu fiction film that captures the lives and stories of people in Hong Kong, while being visually evocative (because Chris Doyle).  It is the same space as Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, and there is a lot of empathy that the makers feel for the characters in the film and the happenings in Hong Kong. Christopher Doyle (who takes a Mise-en-scène and cinematography credit). The Q&A that followed with Doyle saab is now L-E-G-E-N-D-A-R-Y .

KRISHA by Trey Edward Shults

The last film that I saw was  an American indie Krisha, which continued the parampara of  the other two films I watched at night on Day 1 and 2. The parampara of being incendiary, shocking, brilliant and captivating.  Trey Edwards Shults’ portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown (or already having one) and her grappling with mental disorders (like obsessive compulsion) is hypnotic, funny and disarming  to say the least. Pardon my adjectives (and these incessant brackets, I am not a big fan either) but please go watch this film, if there’s a screening left. If you guys were in awe of the music and the camerawork and the editing of Birdman, this would give you orgasm. It won the top awards at South by Southwest film fest, which is a very reliable benchmark.

Trivia: The guy started his career with Terrance Malick’s Voyage of Time and Tree of life, is an actor in the film (spot him!), and has used largely his family as the actors in the film.

Bhaskar Tripathi

Forbidden Room by Guy Maddin &  Evan Johnson

The easiest way to define Guy Maddin’s latest film is ‘कथा सरित् सागर’ on acid. On the surface, the film is about 4 seamen stuck in a submarine which cannot rise to the surface as the bomb inside it will blow up, and they are left with only limited oxygen to survive. Enter a lumberjack. When asked where he came from, the lumberjack starts his story which has multiple stories nested within it, and each story is more bizarre than the other. There is a story of a man who lives in an apartment which is inside a elevator, a woman kidnapped by a bunch of wolf-brotherhood-cave men, a man whose dying gift to his son is his mustache, and (especially) another man who breaks the 4th wall, and teaches bathing etiquette to the audience. In a conversation scene, where as one person talks normally, the other person’s dialogues are written on the screen, like in the silent era, or in the more recent ‘The Artist’. The film has some of the most maxed out trippy visual effects, with images from various stories juxtaposing. Every time a new character is introduced, the actor’s name (it also stars Mathieu Amalric and Charlotte Rampling) appears as they do in a credit roll. This film is not for someone looking for semblance of a plot , which is why people started walking out within 15 minutes, and by half an hour mark the theatre was more than half empty. The few who stayed back pretty much felt like Alice going down the rabbit hole.

Aditya Mattoo

(Pic by Varun grover)

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