Archive for February, 2016

We have always tried to spread the good word about various crowd-funded projects through our blog. Here’s one more film which looks interesting and you can contribute to its making. In today’s Fund A Film (FaF) initiative, we are putting the spotlight on Marathi horror film, Episode 13.

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Episode 13 is a Marathi horror film in found-footage genre. According to its makers, it’s a first of its kind in Marathi language.

Episode 13 revolves around a TV crew who are in a village to shoot their non-fiction TV show. The 13th episode of the show is about a family who has not come out of their house since the last 8 years. There are various myths, versions, and rumors in the village about this family and the haunted house. The TV crew is there to unravel the mystery and expose the truth.

Yogesh Raut, producer-director of this film, raised shooting funds by himself. Now, after completing the shooting and editing, the makers are crowdfunding through Wishberry to finish the posrt-production. You can contribute to the film and make it happen.

Here’s the pitch video of the same

And click here to go their wishberry page for more details and to make a contribution. You can contribute from Rs 2000 up to Rs 2.5 lakh.

 

Some good news coming from the recently concluded Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival). Jayraj Rajasekharan’s Malyalam film Ottal (The Trap) has bagged the Crystal Bear for Best Film in the Generation KPlus category.

The award was given by the children’s jury, and here’s what the jury said about the film –

This exceptional movie touched us all with its irresistible images of nature, laid-back music and amazingly gifted actors. The unique way of filming certain details blew us away. We think it’s important that such a sad and serious topic be tackled in a movie, though the film also managed to capture the humour and joy of life.

And here’s the official synopsis of the film –

“Fireworks companies will take him … He’ll be paid well too.” · “Will they look after him well? I have taken such good care of him.”

In the paradisaical countryside of Southern India, Kuttappayi and his Grandfather raise flocks of ducks in vast flooded fields, they fish, tell each other stories and kid around. Ever since the eight-year-old lost his parents, his Grandfather has looked after him with great tenderness. The boy’s life seems easy and sheltered, that is until the old man falls ill and the boy’s future is suddenly uncertain. Based loosely on Chekhov’s short story Vanka, director Jayaraj’s film tells the timeless story of a boy who wishes for nothing more than to be able to go to school. Alas, his dreams are dashed when confronted with the cruel reality of a world marked by poverty and the total absence of equal opportunity. A fate shared by millions of children around the world.

The film stars Ashanth K Sha, Kumarakom Vasavan, Shine Tom Chacko, Sabitha Jayaraj, and Thomas J Kannampuzha.

With Ottaal’s win, it’s three in a row for Indian films at Berlinale in Generation KPlus category. Killa and Dhanak won in the same category in the last two years.

Here is the full list of winners in the Generation KPlus category.

The trailer of the film (without subs though) –

(all pics via twitter)

Cinema paradiso

Are you tired of Sanskari James Bond and Deadpool? Wanted to show the finger to the censor board but was afraid that the visual would be blurred out and your rants against it muted? Well then, lets do something about it.

The Shyam Benegal committee that has been setup to recommend changes to the censor board is asking for public comments at rajani@nfdcindia.com according to the guidelines given here.

We made our voices heard on net neutrality and showed that the common man can influence public policy. Let’s do the same for our right to watch what we want as adults. Go to this website http://saveourcinema.in/ and send an email to the committee. Please try and read the guidelines and send your own answers if you can. Otherwise, you can send the pre-drafted one on the site and edit it as required.

Thanks to the Save Our Cinema team, who came together yesterday and rolled this out in a day: /u/that_70_show_fan -our resident expert on censorship who drafted our response as well, and /u/avinassh who coded this website in time. Please let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback.

Save Our Cinema

he ‘Save Our Cinema’ coalition was set up to help the Indian movie watching public participate in the policy building process around censorship in the country. The Shyam Benegal committee is finalizing recommendations for a censor board revamp and is asking for public comments. We have created an easy to use tool that helps you send your responses quickly.

Why send an email?

Have you recently gone to a movie in India and scratched your head trying to understand what was going on because of all the muted dialogues? For example, in a recently released Hollywood movie which was given ‘Adult’ rating, all double meaning dialogues were ordered to be replaced with ‘Man and Woman’, and all instances of the words ‘asshole’ were ordered to be muted.

If you are tired of this ridiculous curtailment of the freedom of expression guaranteed in our constitution, there is a ray of hope. The Union Government has constituted a committee headed by Shyam Benegal, one of the most respected film makers in the country to recommend how to revamp the censor board. The committee is asking for views of film viewers on the certification process being followed by the CBFC and suggestions if any within the ambit of the existing Cinematograph Act, 1952, rules and guidelines which have withstood the scrutiny of various courts to help them finalize their recommendations. Submissions should be restricted to two pages and covering important aspects detailed here: NFDC Guidelines.

We encourage you to read the guidelines and then scroll down and click ‘Send Email’. You can edit the email before sending. You can also copy the email content to your clipboard to manually compose your email. Please keep us in BCC so that we can keep a track of emails sent. We will not use your email addresses for any other purpose. However, you can remove us from BCC if you would like.

You can copy-paste/edit the email content from here and send directly. If not, copy-paste/edit and send from your mailbox.

(content via Reddit India and Save Our Cinema)

It addresses the construct of gender and trans identity while shining a light on the messy journey of self-discovery.

A few days before I gorged on the second season of the American TV series, Transparent, I happened to read a column that made a case for turning away from fictions of the self. The writer went on to say that you must write what you know but if you have a story to tell, tell it like you know it is not your story alone. It was a fitting coincidence. Jill Soloway manages just that with the semi-autobiographical, Transparent – to tell the story of a transsexual parent, in a way that is so universal, that not only transgender people but anyone in the midst of transitions, living their truths and rocking a few boats in the process, would relate to. The scrutiny that comes with the act of ‘coming out’ is true not only of the transgender community in India, but also of someone who is gay, divorced, in a live-in relationship and others, to varying degrees, who dare to disturb the status quo. Soloway explores the tapestry of oddities that make the institution of family, and distills the alchemy of weighty philosophies through the prism of gender.

Season 1 begins with Mort Pfefferman, the patriarch of a dysfunctional family and a 60-year-old retired college professor, publicly transitioning to Maura Pfefferman. The family comprises three adult children – Sarah, Ali and Josh and an ex-wife, Shelly. Coming out to the kids is not depicted as heroic, as much as honest, taking into account the emotional universe of the family rattled by the admission. Transparent acknowledges the collateral damage caused while being unabashedly honest to oneself but selfishness is still hailed, over living a lie. The children’s reactions range from denial to reluctance to a gradual acceptance – a very real portrayal of an unconventional family experience. The uphill task of getting to know a person anew begins with something as mundane as the question of what to address the parent as. Ali, the youngest of the Pfefferman siblings coins an endearing term for Maura, ‘Mopa’ – a blend of Momma and Papa.

Maura’s confession fuels the process of self-discovery in the family members grappling with identity crises of their own. While in Season 1, the characters wave the flag of liberation as they attempt to find their voices, in Season 2, they are at their lowest ebb in their quest for personal truths.  Soloway plunges headlong into the evolution of these characters, where their ugly obsessions and dysfunctional reflexes are front and centre. The series deftly dispels the assumption that brave moments of confrontation dovetail happiness. Flinging open the closet of skeletons and following our truth is only the first of many challenges. Transparent shows how being at home within oneself is an ongoing struggle, which also opens doors to a newer world with lesser and sometimes fleeting, but authentic bonhomie. With wisdom, comes a peculiar loneliness.

The series intelligently illumines that gender and sexuality are not synonymous and that both can be fluid with a range of queer female relationships. A fascinating observation about the distinction between personal anguish and male advantage is highlighted by an instance, where we find out that Maura as a man has a slightly misogynistic past. We also see Maura stumbling into her gender identity like a teenager discovering her body, straddling a sense of adventure and confusion. This is evident in a conversation in a clinic, where the doctor asks Maura, “Do you plan on getting breasts?”, and Maura quips, “Two please.” When the doctor further inquires if she’s planning on undergoing a gender reassignment surgery, she takes a lengthy pause before replying, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.” Maura also vehemently declares that she loves vaginas, a communication seemingly at odds with being transgender. While Ali tries to academically understand the constructs of gender, heteronormavity and patriarchy, Josh still refuses to come to terms with the loss of a father – the loss Mort to Maura. Also, Sarah, the eldest of the Pfefferman kids finds a sense of redemption in her kinks during her lonely phase following a heterosexual marriage, a lesbian relationship and a breakup. The scene where Maura pleasures the ex-wife Shelly, illustrates with masterly tenderness, their fiendishly complicated relationship and the yearning of the elderly, spurred by loneliness.  Long habit and a firm sense of belonging in case of ex-spouses can lead to a self-defeating return to the old, familiar ways, irrespective of gender.

The character of Leslie Mackinaw inspired by the legendary lesbian poet Eileen Myles says, “I don’t really teach. I like to talk about things I care about to people, who are ready”. Steering clear of a didactic treatment, Soloway has adopted a similar approach in her storytelling, tackling characters with a rare balance of objectivity and compassion. She presents to us the wonderfully weird Pfefferman clan with a healthy irreverence and hilarity; therein lies the triumph of Transparent.

Dipti Kharude

(Dipti just quit her corporate job and is having fun dipping her toes in a ton of stuff like binge watching TV and web series, doing movie marathons, gallivanting, and writing about her escapades. She tweets @kuhukuro)

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*LOTS of spoilers*

“Hello Jack, Thanks for saving our little girl.” says Joan Allen upon seeing her grandson Jacob Tremblay (who play Jack so astonishingly that you want to cleave through the screen and smother him with hugs and kisses) for the first time in a hospital. This line defines the heart of the film. How a 5 year old kid saves his mother’s life. That is what the film is about, not about their heroic escape from the clutches of a psychopath.

A kid that came into being 2 years after his mother became a sex slave, and had been held captive for two years. He talks to the inanimate objects in the room (Good morning ‘lamp’, Good morning ‘sink’, Good morning ‘chair’), talks to his imaginary dog, does stretches with his mother to keep his muscles agile, listens to the ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ that his mother sings for him, makes toys with egg shells, and celebrates his birthday with a cake without candles, and stares out of the skylight where aliens live. That is what he’s been doing for 5 years until one fine day his mother decides that its about time he escaped. The instructions are clear – “Wiggle out, jump, run, somebody.”

He is scared shitless coz he literally has not seen anything out of that room and he is 5 years old! His world was a small room with a bed, wardrobe (where he was supposed to hide when ‘Old Nick” visited Mom, the name aptly refers to the devil as I read somewhere), a bathtub, a chair-table and a TV with bad reception. He literally is not aware that there exists a world outside these four walls full of trees and dogs and people and oceans and endless earth, which is round, he later gets to know confounded by the fact that if it is, why we don’t fall off. So when Mom tries to tell him the truth, he screams. (a scene he had the most difficulty performing)

She was all of 17 when this happened, she tells him, when she was tricked to fall down down down this rabbit hole. She tells him of Grandma’s house with a backyard and a hammock. He understands her story, coz he is five (Jacob was actually 7 at the time of the shoot) now. He is a grown up boy capable of understanding complex things, is what she makes him believe so that he can escape. And the moment he does, your heart, along with Mom’s, skip a beat. You literally want to run and save that kid from this monster driving the truck. Jack’s eyes, the moment he comes out of the carpet, are going to haunt me for a long long time.

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Ideally, this is where a conventional film would have ended. The kid escapes, saves his mother with the help of the police, and they live happily ever after, but that is where this film actually starts, and post their escape it is an intense emotional rollercoaster ride that leaves you gasping  for air by the time it ends.

“You’re gonna love it.” She tells him.

“What?” he asks.

“The World” she says.

But what she didn’t know that will she be able to love it?

“I am supposed to be happy.” says Joy (Brie Larson, I would not mind you taking that trophy home, at all.) to her mother at the beginning of a heated argument. She doesn’t know how to deal with her freedom. Everything has changed, from her own family to the world around her. People moved on, life went on. Living for 7 years in a contained space with a crushing hope that one day you might be able to look as far as your eyes can see instead of an impenetrable steel wall four feet away can leave you with severe PTSD. Plus she is worried about her child. She wants him to play with toys and connect with people, of which he is not capable of, not yet. Her mother and step father (Tom McCamus, a brief but wonderful cameo) are patient. They know he will come around, but Joy is impatient, and her interview with a news channels doesn’t really help things.

This film, in terms of narrative, explored an unchartered territory. We are used to seeing the victorious (or sometimes failed) escape of our heroes and that’s when the credits starts to roll. We are not used to seeing these people getting assimilated in the world again, and that’s where the magic lies. Showing us the struggle of Joy and Jake getting used to ‘space’ is where Emma Donoghue’s screenplay shines bright. For Jake, it’s easier coz he is still ‘plastic’ (read moldable) as per the doctor (“I am not plastic” he opposes in Ma’ ear) but Ma is not plastic, and she has to deal with not only her own loneliness but Jake’s as well.

The world is too much for Jake. He can’t handle this vast expanse of nothingness around him at such a tender age (“There’s so much of place in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.”). He, at multiple times, asks if they can go back to the room coz he misses it sometimes. They do visit it one last time before saying their final goodbyes. “Say Bye to the room, Ma” tells Jake to Ma, and Brie Larson lets out an almost silent “Bye Room” under her breath. This time they don’t see the Room as the world they inhabited for 5 years but as a cell stripped off of everything that could have reminded them of their past. The flush, Jack’s ocean with boats and ships is gone, and so is the bed and mattress on which they used to sleep. The door is ajar, and the kitchen is ruined. This cathartic visit ends their ordeal coz Room literally doesn’t exist anymore.

The film leaves you emotionally drained with wet eyes and a runny nose but happy. Happy to have witnessed such an incredibly moving parable of an inexplicably strong bond between parent and child. This film rests at top with “Mad Max” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (another tear jerker) as my personal favorite from last year, and I don’t think any other film would be able to come close because I don’t think any other film will be able to have as much soul as these three.

Would like to leave you with this featurette that should tell you how amazing a chemistry these two share, even in real life

Go watch it for the kid, we don’t get to see such prodigies that often.

–  Avinash Verma

Q’s latest film Brahman Naman premiered at the recently concluded Sundance Festival. Here’s all the buzz that the film generated at the fest – The fridge, the fish, and the fan!

Brahman Naman

– For Twitch Interview of Q and the cast, click here.

– Guardian has given it a three-star rating. Review is here

– Variety review is here

– Hollywood Reporter review is here

– Review on Twitch Film is here. Calls it a “fantastic facre”

– Netflix scooped up worldwide SVOD rights. Details here

– Interview on Film Companion where Q reveals that the film is really about caste system.

– Pillow Talk with Q and Shashank Arora (they are literally on the bed)

 

Its been a while since we have posted a new film in our Sunday Shorts segment. But this week, we got a new short by writer and filmmaker Devashish Makhija. This film has Manoj Bajpayee in the lead, and he is in terrific form here, even if it is just a glance here, and a reaction there. Music is by Nucleya. Watch it.

And if you didn’t get the film, the description on the youtube page dissects it all. Here you go..

TaandavHead constable Tambe isn’t having the best of days.

His wife slams doors in his face.

His little daughter won’t speak to him.

His only friends, havaldaars Sawant and Shilwant, feel cheated by him.

And to make matters worse, he’s been given nightlong Ganpati visarjan bandobast duty.

The lights are blinding.
The drums are deafening.
Explosions.
Clanging.
Flashing.
Thrashing.
His senses are being attacked from every which way.
Every screaming face seems to be mocking him tonight.

His blood…
slowly…
rises…
to a…
boil…
Until he snaps, plunges into the crowd, pulls his gun out, and as jaws drop around him…
he unleashes a TAANDAV!