Posts Tagged ‘Berlinale’

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.

roma

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.

image-w856

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.

womanatwar_1

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.

donottouch-750x400
Harsh Desai

The 2017 edition of Berlin International Film Festival has come to an end and the awards were declared tonight. Some good news for two Indian films at the Berlinale – Amit Masurkar’s Newton and Amar Kaushik’s Aaba.

Newton was given the CICAE Art Cinema Award in the Forum section of the fest. The “Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai” (C.I.C.A.E.), the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas, forms one jury for the Panorama and one for the Forum. Each jury awards one prize in its section. Pedro Barbadillo, Tanja Milicic and Rainer Wothe were in the jury panel for Forum section.

CICAE was founded in 1956 by the national art house cinema associations of Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland as an international lobby or pressure-group in order to support the art cinema sector and to protect the cinematographic diversity against the supremacy of so-called commercial filmmaking. Since then it unites about 3000 independent as well as already nationally associated art house cinemas, 15 festivals and a certain number of film distributors from approximately 30 countries from all over the world in an international umbrella association.

The Art Cinema Award is awarded twelve times a year to art house films at certain cooperating festivals such as the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, Panorama and Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin and the Venice Film Festival.

Amar’s Kaushik’s Aaba has been awarded the Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Short Film. This includes cash award of  € 2,500 by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany). The jury noted that it tells a story of the circle of life in an elegiac and slow pace with a beautiful cinematography.

newton-poster-a-rgb-2500px

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

Avinash Arun’s directorial debut, the Marathi feature film Killa (The Fort) will have its world premiere at the upcoming Berlinal International Film Festival. The fest runs from February 6-16, 2014.

The film is selected in the Generation Kplus competitive category. IT stars Amruta Subhash, Archit Deodhar, Parth Bhalerao and Shrikant Yadav. Avinash has also shot the film.

Official Synopsis

Killa deals with the universal conflict of migration, and how it impacts the lives of people, especially children. The story revolves around a young boy Chinu who finds it difficult to adjust to his new surroundings where he has migrated to, after his father’s death. But gradually he makes new friends and gains more confidence.

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.

There are few other Indian films at this edition of Berlin Fest. Gaurav Saxena’s Rangzen will also have its world premiere in Generation Kplus. Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and Papilio Buddha (India/USA) directed by Jayan Cherian will be screened in the Panorama section. Lajwanti (The Honour Keeper) directed by Pushpendra Singh has been selected for Berlinale Forum which is for avant garde, experimental works, essays, long-term observations, political reportage and yet-to-be-discovered cinematic landscapes. Also, Berlinale Talent Campus has selected 3 Indians – Producer Sanjay Shah, documentary filmmaker Nishtha Jain and director/screenwriter Dipesh Jain. More details here.