Posts Tagged ‘Berlin International Film Festival’

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron’s latest will be discussed for weeks after release, for it’s ability to create conversations about family, employment, womanhood, relationships, ethnicity, culture, revolutions, politics, and, even dog poop. Roma will certainly develop religious followers across a period of time, especially because of it’s shot like an epic period drama but in fellini style, although not as surreal as the latter -Thanks for bringing fellini back. Cuaron’s latest is definitely his best work, although one can always argue otherwise.

Roma, being Cuaron’s semi autobiographical work takes us through the lives of two women who raised him, the young domestic worker, Cleo; and the mother of four, Sofia. Both these women have been abandoned by men, sketching out to grow into flawed, strong, and memorable characters. The narrative then follows Cleo’s journey into an unexpected pregnancy, and Sofia’s journey after her husband absconds away in the name of work.

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Roma starts with a scene of the floor being cleaned, and ends up at the sky. This film puts Alfonso Cuaron right up there with the likes of Fellini, Satyajit Ray, and Truffaut, who have made such epic semi autobiographical work from their childhood memories. Some of the sweeping pan shots of 360 degree need to be watched to believe, they look gorgeous on the big screen -why is this a Netflix film! Also, another achievement on the film would be the immersive sound design which takes you right into Mexico.

It would be criminal to not mention the breathtaking scene towards the end at a family holiday on the beach. The scene of Cleo and the kids in the sea is one of the best monochromatic scenes ever seen. This dripping with love, water, and, dog-poop poetry by Cuaron on his childhood memories and the women who shaped him is a must watch, his work is more empathetic than the people he is compared with earlier in this write up.


Climax 

Climax can easily be said to be Gasper Noe’s comeback. If not for the hype, I would’ve easily resisted watching another film by Gasper Noe, a filmmaker who has which always relied upon sensationalism, provocativeness, and intensely shocking narratives and visuals. His latest is more shocking and more deranged, but this time, his antics work in the favour of the story.

A troupe of young dancers have gathered in an old school building’s empty rehearsal hall for a party, which hits high notes of dance in the beginning but ends up hitting horrifying notes of a bad acid trip, which at some points you wish would get over earlier. Such is the horrifying portrayal of a young dance troupe’s party which quickly goes downhill.

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Noe’s comeback is innovative in its fixation of treating this as a dance film, even when people are dying of drug overdose. This is a break from Noe’s sexual obsession and stays true to his vision, the camera work accompanies the dance styles sequences as the camera flips and sweeps at so many occasions, as if the camera is also dancing on acid with the troupe. The visuals are so mesmerising that you end up sincerely watching even the horrifying ones towards the latter half. Gasper Noe is an important filmmaker because he gives us a break from the usual cinematic diet, providing visceral, stunning, and bold images of a young dance group, mostly women suffering from a bad trip of LSD. A strong mention for the kickass innovation, Gasper Noe has done with the credit sequences, randomly popping up in the film.

 

Woman at War

Weapons, check! Strategy, check! And of course a live band to accompany the warrior, check! This surreal Icelandic film, although conventional, has much to offer and enjoy. This political-musical-comedy is a terrific watch, where some dry Icelandic humour and absurd characters, spice up the otherwise conventional tale.

Halla, a middle aged choir director, has a secret mission, to bring down the heavy industrialisation in Iceland, using nothing but a bow and an arrow. Alongside, she has even written a new manifesto which is sent flying across the town as leaflets, found an accomplice in her long lost cousin, and, has gotten her application to adopt a girl child accepted in Ukraine. One cannot resist to stand by Halla’s strong resilience, whose living room has posters of Gandhi and Mandela.

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This local Icelandic Robin Hood’s character is fleshed out extremely well, allowing the viewer to accompany her in this tough adventure, amidst stunning locations of Iceland, which are magically shot in the film, allowing the rural and rustic Iceland to grow into it’s own character for the film. The vibrantly offbeat mood of the narrative is accompanied brilliantly with the live band playing some eclectic music to support Halla. The weirdly placed jokes (deadpan humour style), like the one on Vikings, are sure to leave you in splits.

 

Touch Me Not

Romanian film ‘Touch Me Not’ raises questions about body, sexuality, and intimacy, in the most dishonest and non-intimate manner. This film has admirers who have awarded it the Golden Bear at Berlin, however, failed to raise any interest for me. The film manages to blend fiction with reality seamlessly, but ends up exploring more themes than it can handle. The strange relationship humans have with their bodies could have been a strong subject, this however is a huge missed opportunity.

Laura Benson is Laura, who appears in dialogue scenes with the director, discussing her issues with voyeurism. Christian Bayerlein is a man with spinal muscular dystrophy who wants to challenge body-image preconceptions. Tomas Lemarquis is looking at comparable ideas. It is all heading towards the sex club. The scenes featuring Christian, narrating his perception about beauty and touch are some of the only watchable parts of the film. The rest of the affair is extremely naive, petty, and radical to an extent that it can be an attempt of narcissistic filmmaking.

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Harsh Desai

Amit Masurkar’s new film Newton had its world premiere at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival. Here’s all the buzz about the film from the fest.

(click on any of the pic to start the slide show)

Finding humour in the tenuous nature of democracy might be a hard task on the global stage at present; however, in Newton’s darkly comic exploration of one official’s attempt to uphold the election process in India, it’s simpler than it sounds. The second film from writer/director Amit V Masurkar bows in Berlinale’s Forum section with a sense of chaos and absurdity, while remaining aware of the drama of reality. When the feature emphasises either extreme, it proves engaging viewing.

–  From Screen Daily’s review. Click here to read the full review.

– Rajeev Masand’s video-blog on the film –

 

Newton is a very important film, despite its satirical tones, laced with a lot of humour and irony. It is a film that should make viewers think about how important their right to cast a vote is.

– from Aseem Chhabra’s report on the film. Click here to read the full report

Newton is a brave attempt. Because it uses the feature film format to tell a story about on-going violence and exploitation and cynical political aggrandisement : anytime you hear the words Naxal, or Maoist in a film, it falls into the tried and tested formula. Newton breaks that mould, refreshes hardened tropes, and makes us smile and think. Really hard. Because what effects India Interior today will one day ripple over and claw its way into our complacent urban, mall-infested enclaves.

– from Indian Express. Click here to read the full report.

– Some tweets on the film:

(pics taken from Twitter)

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More good news coming from Berlin International Film Festival. Two more Indian features have been selected for this year’s edition.

Amit V Masurkar’s sophomore feature Newton is all set to make its World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. The Drishyam Films produced feature will be screened in the ‘Forum’ section of the Berlinale which features ‘avant-garde, experimental works, political reportage and yet-to-be-discovered cinematic landscapes’.

Newton was part of the Co-Production Market (CPM) at Film Bazaar, 2015 and also one of the Film Bazaar Recommends titles at Film Bazaar 2016. The film stars Rajkummar Rao in the title role and is a sharp political black comedy that takes place on an election day in Central India. Rajkummar Rao plays Newton, a rookie clerk on election duty in a conflict-ridden jungle of Chhattisgarh, who tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of an attack by Maoist rebels. The supporting cast includes Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav. 

lady of the lake

The second film, Haobam Paban Kumar’s Manipuri film Loktak Lairembee (Lade Of The Lake) is also selected in the same ‘Forum’ section of the fest. The film has been doing the fest rounds for quite some time now and was also the winner of top prize in the India Gold section of Mumbai Film Festival.

Haobam has 5 National Film Awards and 5 Indian Panorama Selections to his credit. The film Loktak Lairembee (Lady of the lake) is his debut fiction feature film.

Here’s the official synopsis of the film –

Loktak Lake is a unique ecosystem where fishermen lived in huts built on floating biomasses. In 2011, the authorities, in the name of protecting serenity of the ecosystem, burnt down the huts leaving thousands of fishermen homeless. Tomba, one of the victims, lives with a harrowing nightmare of looming displacement since then. He is haunted by seamless fear of further intervention of authorities that would make him homeless forever. Confined in his makeshift hut, Tomba senses the spirit of evil around, while his wife Thambalsang works hard to make their living. One fine morning Tomba accidentally finds a gun hidden within the biomass. He marvels with the gun as his power of self-protection. He transforms himself to an assertive man who is looking for an appropriate offense. One day, an old lady who mysteriously wanders in the lake, knocks at his door in the middle of the night. Fearful Tomba, anticipating the lady as the spirit of all evils, chases her and commits an unintended crime.

Trailer

Filmmaker Amar Kaushik’s short film, Aaba has been selected for 67th Berlin International Film Festival which will run from 9-19th February, 2017. The film will premiere in the Generation Kplus category of the fest.

Interestingly, Amar’s mother, Shashi Kaushik has written the story. It revolves around an orphan girl who comes across the news of her grandfather reaching the terminal stages of lung cancer. As the grandfather (Aaba) starts counting his days, the family faces unexpected turns.

The film has been shot in the picturesque valley of Arunachal Pradesh. Aaba is produced by Raj Kumar Gupta and Mitul Dikshit, and co-produced by Onir and Alison Welly.

Earlier, Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair’s Ottaal, Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak, and Avinash Arun’s Killa have premiered in the same category of the fest.

Click here to read about the shooting experience of Aaba.

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)

In what’s turning out to be a most heartening trend in recent years, yet another Indian film has made a name for itself at a prestigious International film festival. Avinash Arun’s directorial debut, the Marathi feature film Killa (The Fort) had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (better known as the Berlinale). The film was selected in the Generation Kplus competitive category and has won a Crystal Bear from the Children’s Jury and a Special Mention from the International Jury.

About the Prize

In the Generation Kplus section the jury members are no older than those of the audience. Eleven children and seven teens award the best films with Crystal Bears. Special Mentions are given for outstanding achievements. Two international juries present further prizes in the Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus competition.

The film received glowing reviews from both juries. The Children’s Jury, awarding the Crystal Bear said:

“This film convinced us in all respects: with his good camera work and the great actors, but also because of its incredibly beautiful nature images which blend perfectly with the music. This film made us all want to discover India.”

Interestingly, the film also received a Special Mention from the International Jury too:

“A beautifully photographed story about the challenges of being a boy. This film had wonderful pace and rhythm. Never reverting to clichés, the fresh performances left us feeling we were right there with the characters.”

About the Film

Coping with the recent death of his father, Chinu, 11- year old boy moves to a small Konkan town from a big city because of his mother’s job transfer. He finds it difficult to adjust to the new place and finds himself alienated and reluctant to open up to its people. Both Chinu and his mother grapple with their own individual struggles and anxieties in the new town. In the process, they emerge with newer experiences and as newer people, both healed and enriched.

Produced by Madhukar R Musle, Ajay G Rai, Alan McAlex under the banner, Jar Pictures and presented by M R Filmworks, the film was a part of NFDC Film Bazaar’s Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab in 2013.

It stars Amruta Subhash, Archit Deodhar, Parth Bhalerao and Shrikant Yadav. Here are some stills from the film:

About the Director

Avinash Arun is a Director – Cinematographer from Maharashtra, India. Born in the textile town Solapur in 1985 in a middle class Maharashtrian family, he started assisting in FTII Diploma films at the age of 16. He eventually graduated in Cinematography from FTII in 2011. In 2010, his school project “The Light and Her Shadows” won him the cinematography award in Kodak film school Competition. His diploma film “Allah Is Great” was the official entry from India for Student Oscars. It also won several awards including the National award in 2012. Avinash has worked on “Kai Po Che!” (Berlinale Panorama section 2012), Deool (National Award winner 2011). Killa is his first feature film as director. He is also the cinematographer on this film.

Avinash has also shot Vasan Bala‘s short film ‘Geek Out’, which we’ve featured previously on this blog.

Watch the short below:

— Posted by @diaporesis

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.

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Film

Lajwanti (The Honour Keeper) directed by Pushpendra Singh has been selected for the 44th edition of the Berlinale Forum, a section of the Berlin International Film Festival that showcases independent, artistic filmmaking with a disregard for convention. Berlinale Forum will screen twenty-eight world and eight international premieres this year.

Official Synopsis

A group of women, in their daily long walk to collect water, recite songs and exchange words that reveal their hidden desires. But, one day, when a crazy dreamer whose only passion is collecting doves crosses their path, one of them, Lajwanti, starts a journey that will take her out of this closed world. She leaves the group when she cannot tolerate their banter and starts walking the long distance alone.

The silence and determination of the man with the doves becomes a curiosity for her and she decides to find more about him. But when the man does not show much interest in her advances, she feels betrayed by her beauty. Her dreams change from being driven by fear to dreams of courage. The veil starts disappearing and a new world opens to her. Will she overcome her dreams driven by fear to keep the honour of that man’s dream rather than that of the society? Will she be able to undo her social conditioning and find her true self?

Trailer

Filmmaker

An alumnus of the Film &Television Institute of India, Pune and Berlin Talent Campus, Pushpendra began his career as an actor playing one of the leads in AmitDutta’s Venice award winning film ‘Aadmi Ki AuratAur Anya Kahaniya’. He then went on to assist AmitDutta on his next feature ‘Nainsukh’ and the latest ‘SattviSair- The seventh walk’. He has also assisted Anup Singh on his award winning feature ‘Qissa- The ghost is a lonely traveler’.  His other credits include acting in the German feature ‘Asta Transfer’ directed by Maximilian Linz which is in its post-production and in the theatre with Barry John on his Honey Trilogy.

Currently he teaches at the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. Lajwantiis his first feature film as a director.

Why they need the funding

– You can contribute anything between Rs 99 to 50,000. So far the film has managed to collect just 20% of the funding it needs. So do contribute to its making. Lets make it happen.

– Click here to go to its Catapooolt page where you can read more about the film and can make your contribution.