Posts Tagged ‘Mumbai Film festival’

LOVELESS

We as an urban global world have slowly found arrogant comfort and convenience in being lonely and loveless. I am certain that when the world will be dying, we will be busy waiting for a youtube video to buffer.

These were my first thoughts after coming out of the cold, edge of the seat, apocalyptic, eerie, and devastating piece called Loveless by Andrei Zvyagintsev (Leaviathan and The Return). This is a burning symphony on the spiritual disaster of a failed marriage as Andrei uses lifeless streetlights, streets, cold Tarkosky forests, and empty abandoned buildings to document the remains of a ruined marriage. Unlike most of the movies I have seen, the first time we see a couple arguing over who does not want to keep the child over the usual debate of who would love to take the custody. The couple going through the failed marriage along with modern Russia seem busy in loveless intimate acts, selfies, luxurious apartments, status, money, freedom and, sleep while their child goes missing from their house. As Nietzsche quotes, “They do not want to know the truth because the truth would break their illusions” The couple are forced to run around abandoned buildings, hospital beds, make phone-calls, reach out to neighbors, and deal with bureaucratic cops – and they do so with the zeal and enthusiasm of a dead octopus.

In one of the most heart-wrenching sequences of the film, the police, search party, and the father of the lost child are seen searching an eerily- in-ruin abandoned building in the middle of the forest which used to be the missing kid’s spot. The shots of this building by Andrei’s regular cinematographer Mikhail Krichman are metaphorical of the loveless state a disastrous marriage can take. Cannes Jury Prize winner Loveless is an essential film to watch. The film will has morose impacts on your mood – as Marcel Proust would put it “Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is the grief that develops the powers of the mind.”

ASHWATTHAMA

We all have grown up listening to the stories about the warrior Ashwatthama still being alive, though, not as a result of being immortal but rather as curse given to him by Krishna. According to legend, Krishna was angry with Ashwatthama for killing Pandava’s sons. He decided to curse Ashwatthama to avenge the destruction of Pandava’s lineage – hence cursing him with an unending life of pain and suffering. Krishna cursed Ashwatthama with terrible leprosy that would haunt him for 3,000 years. Krishna further stated that Ashwatthama would not be helped by anyone or provided food or shelter.

Now imagine a young 9 year old Ishwaku, who is growing up on this story, and suddenly is burdened with equal pain as Aswatthama is in the legend. Francois Truffaut meets Satyajit Ray in Pushpendra Singh’s Ashwatthama – a surprise gem in the India Gold section of Mumbai Film Festival this year. Pushpendra Singh inter-cuts between the painful reality of the kid’s existence after the loss of his mother with folk songs, cultural narrative of Rajasthan and Madya Pradesh, Ishwaku’s dreams, imaginations, and search for Ashwatthama who is supposed to be living in abandoned ruins of the village. The myths, religion, and customs of the village shape devastating childhoods for the kids living here. The plight is shown with rich impact through an almost black and white lifeless atmosphere. Pushpendra Singh looks completely in control of this film as every shot of the film is rich and haunting aided by cinematographer Ravi Kiran Ayyagiri. A few rare moments of imagination of the kid explode with color on screen, bursting into the suppressed desires flowing with the mind of Ishwaku.

Although, the influence of the likes of Truffaut, Kiarostami, and Ray are evident; the film still is one of the most authentic, pure, rustic, and, genuine coming of age movies I have ever seen. The film is filled with melancholic nostalgia – especially if you have spent your childhood days loitering around in vast landscapes and nights spent imagining the stories from your family storytellers.

ZOO

“Death is not the greatest loss. Loss is what dies when you’re still alive”, said Tupac. Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.’s sour turned friendship is a severely heartbreaking tale for upcoming rappers. This tale has its fair share of influence on the underbelly of Mumbai slums.

Aspiring rappers from these slums, Prince Daniel and Yogesh Kurme are dreaming to become an epic rap duo like Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. However, Prince is also certain to not let their friendship turn sour like it happens in the former story. Little did they know that the landscape they are trying to survive in is filled with drugs. Messi played by Rahul Kumar (Millimeter from 3 Idiots) aspires to take over his elder brother’s drug empire inspite of having a potential career in football. Messi’s brother played by Shashank Arora is a drug seller who supplies ‘sugar’ to a city running deep on these white lines. This also includes Shweta Tripathi’s character who has not stepped out of house since months owing to a past incident. Her life is filled with PS4, online food deliveries, coffee, and delivery of sugar. The lives of all these characters somewhere or the other end up with drugs taking away the best of them.

However, in the process of showing this degradation due to drugs, Shlok Sharma gives us some really fresh scenes like Shashank’s character playing a dumb waiter at a coffee shop, Prince and Yogesh singing probably the most hilariously obscene rap lyrics ever witnessed in an Indian film, or Messi doing a Robert De Niro like mirror scene. The rotting drug filled contemporary Mumbai underbelly has been captured with complete accuracy by Shlok Sharma in this film completely shot on an Iphone. The narrative of Zoo fills much more complete than it did in Vasan Bala’s Peddlers. Having disliked Haramkhor, Shlok Sharma’s Zoo was a pleasant surprise for me.

MACHINES

Rahul Jain’s Machines aims to empathise us with the sub humane working conditions in textile factories of Gujarat, India. It raises the same old questions of wages, standard of living and, the work life balance which is absolutely missing in the lives of the workers documented. However, Machines is shot in a meditative fashion, allowing some of the shots of the Machines to make you really wonder who the slaves are – Machines or Men themselves?

The cinematography of the film is breathing with sweat, chemicals, dirt, and life in these factories. These breathing shots allow you to experience life in these windowless rooms. Men bathe, eat, work, and live around chemicals as if they are living out of a suitcase in Tokyo. In one of the most subtle yet painful shots, a man is seen entertaining himself by resting his feet on a machine which is in full throttle action, the vibrations of the machine are music to his tired musceles which are being massaged in the process.

Rahul Jain succeeds in creating an immersion point for the viewers through sight, sound, and smell through shots of the nightmarishly sludgy company rolled around in profits while their workers survive on peanuts. The 70 minute film is a visual treat which raises no new questions but still immerses is in the textile toil of carried by the workers. The final scene of this movie is a stunning blow where a group of workers surround the camera and start asking the intentions of the film being made. The sound design on the film is commendable as a musical treatment comes together through the various noises of the factory creating an invigorating track of sorts which leaves you thinking.

NOTHINGWOOD

“ No Hollywood, No Bollywood, We are Nothingwood; we have no money and no resources. Qayamat is here (end of the world) but my Ishq-e-cinema (love for cinema) is forever. “

Father of 14 kids in the worn torn Afghanistan; Salim Shaheen is the prince of Afghanistan’s film industry where cinema itself has been banned by the Taliban. Sonia Kronlund documents the extravagant and tour de force director Salim Shaheen while he is shooting his 111th movie which is an autobiographical affair on his own transition from being and Army General to being the Badshah of Afghan Cinema. Salim Shaheen and his crew’s energy is as infectious as a film crew finishing their student project. The passion of Salim Shaheen for films over bullets reeks out of all the statements, songs, visuals, which are beautiful woven together in this documentary.

In one of the most job dropping yet hilarious scenes, a chicken is sacrificed on the sets of the film to showcase spilled blood in his new film. This scene is a testimony to the love and passion for cinema which is harboured by Salim and his team. With almost no resources and funds, Salim has been making films since decades. A huge fan of Bollywood actors Dharmendra and Manoj Kumar, Salim started by making lip sync videos by singing to the famous Indian songs. Today, his movies are seen by people across the sides of Taliban and Police.

This film is an ode to film makers, a love letter for people who are so wildly passionate for cinema that they can do nothing else with their lives. A retired army general turned filmmaker Salim shows us that passion is all you need for making a movie, rest is and always will be upto the destiny. This film will leave you cheering in the end for Salim’s relentlessl and infectious energy.

– Harsh Desai
(Tweets: @iamharshdesai
Senior Partner, Lowfundwala Productions http://www.lowfundwala.com)

The Day After

“I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for falling in love with another woman. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong.”
― Haruki Murakami

Never had I ever thought that Infidelity as a film topic could be dealt with such poise, patience, and, character. However, when Auteur Hong Sang-soo handles a subject this delicate, the result is a poetic, meditative, melancholic, and a boozy drama.

In competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes this year, this is the 4th film by the Korean master in the past 8 months – and oh boy, he seems to be operating at the prime of his career.  Set around the life of a morose publisher and his affair with a woman, Bong-wan (Kwon) spends most of his screen time discussing love and life getting over shots of Soju. Little does the new employee Ah-reum (Kim) knows that she is replacing Bong-wan’s flame Chang-sook (Kim Sae-byuk). When Bong-wan’s wife (Cho yun-hee) finds a love poem written by Bong wan, she assumes that the mistress is Ah-reum. Ah-reum on the other end is almost a conscious reflection of bong-wan asking him strange and unsettling questions over, again some shots of soju. However, not all the characters in the film seem as layered as Bong-wan.

This film is moody, painful, and a nuanced understanding of infidelity. Barring the sudden zoom shots, this movie can surely get you drunk on mid-life crisis without the shots of Soju.

The Florida Project

Florida Project will remind you of Short Term 12. This is a gem from Sean Baker who proves that he is a seamless storyteller with fresh sensibilities to tackle complex issues with simple narratives. The colourfully lit frames of the film have dark underlying tensions which suck you into the milieu at the outskirts of Disneyland in Florida. As an audience, you enter the film with shots of kids creating havoc with their mischief and abuses but you are left weeping in the end.

There is something about kids, something about their innocence which has the power to fill the entire screen up. Moonee played by the young kid Brooklyn Prince will win laughs and break hearts across borders with her performance of a brash kid who is always upto adventures with her rebellious mom and ragtag buddies. Willem Dafoe gives a nuanced performance, speaking volumes about his maturity as an actor in top form. A scene where Willem Dafoe is seen requesting the birds to clear the drive way is an endearing sight which speaks for the wrinkles he has developed on his neck over the years.

The Florida project, CO-written, directed, and edited by Sean Baker is a very special film. The screenplay is incredibly fresh, believable, and breathing with Florida vocabulary. Tangerine filmmaker Baker again uses dynamic shots resulting into a charismatic storytelling technique. The Florida Project is an unmissable experience.

– Harsh Desai

(Senior Partner, Lowfundwala Productions (www.lowfundwala.com)

With its premiere at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival, more good news coming in for Konkona Sensharma’s directorial debut, A Death In The Gunj.

The film will open this year’s MAMI Film Festival which will run from October 20th -27th, 2016. The film’s cast includes Vikrant Massey, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Devaiah, Tillotama Shome, Jim Sarbh, Tanuja Mukherjee, Om Puri and Arya Sharma.

Here’s TIFF’s Cameron Bailey on the film –

ADITGHaving made an indelible impact on Indian cinema with her work in front of the camera, renowned actor Konkona Sensharma (Talvar) makes her debut as a writer-director with this tense family drama.

It’s the late 1970s, and just outside the quiet Indian resort town of McCluskiegunj, a family gathers in their country home and prepares to ring in the new year with old friends. On the periphery of the family’s focus hovers the young man Shutu (Vikrant Massey), an innocent attempting to navigate a world that’s unkind to his sensitive nature.

Shutu would rather spend time with his friend’s young daughter than engage with the adults, but he is eventually drawn into the messy realm of mature emotions and desires. Relationships in these close quarters begin to simmer and strain, and Shutu struggles to define his masculinity and sense of self — even as the atmosphere becomes suffused with lust and mystery.

Sensharma was a star of Indian Parallel Cinema, the movement made famous by the likes of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, and her directorial approach shares a realist sensibility with the work of those directors. Shot on location in Jharkhand State, the film is deeply steeped in a sense of place; Sensharma’s camera captures the natural beauty of the family home’s surroundings as she patiently lets her Chekhovian story build to its dramatic and tragic conclusion.

——

For more stills and trailer of the film, click here.

The early buzz from TIFF is great so far. This review calls it an assured debut. Journalist and film programmer Aseem Chhabra is also quite impressed by the film. See his tweets.

We can’t wait to catch it at MAMI.

Some exciting news for film buffs. Mumbai Academy Of Moving Image (MAMI) which runs the Mumbai Film Festival, has now opened a Film Club. And here’s the best part – the registration is absolutely free. Not only that, the film club membership will also give you 10% discount on the MAMI registration fees. So do it now! Click here to go to registration page.

The club launched with the Ian McKellen Masterclass. Now, it’s going to have another exciting event on Monday, 27th June – the premiere of Q’s latest film Brahman Naman. Written by Naman Ramachandran and co-produced by Celine Loop and Steve Barron, the film will be available globally starting 7 th July 2016 as a Netflix original film.

Brahman Naman stars Shashank Arora as the lead character with Tanmay Dhanania and Chaitanya Varad as his sidekicks. The cast also includes Vaiswath Shankar, Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy and Sid Mallya. Well-regarded internationally as one of India’s most vital and provocative indie filmmakers, Q’s latest cinematic cocktail is a nerdy sex comedy.

The screening will be followed by a Q and A with Q. Don’t miss it.

The pic attached tells you what you need to do to attend the screening.

Social Media Follow Up Announcement

 

Ruchika Oberoi’s debut feature Island City premiered at Venice Days, an independent parallel sidebar section at the Venice Film Festival, which is promoted by the Italian Association of Filmmakers and authors. It also won the FEDORA prize for the Best Young Director. The film had its Indian premiere at the recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival.

Here’s ThePuccaCritic‘s post on the film.

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“6 AM. Good Morning.” Says an alarm clock.

“5th floor. Humidity is 38%.” Informs an elevator.

“Due to wastage of water, we have removed water filters. Thank you, Systematic Statistics. Fun. Frolic. Festivity.” Announces an automated electronic voice.

These are the voices we hear, while we follow this gentleman called Suyash Chaturvedi, which informs us about his daily routine. He is a part of the crowd which enters those tall, shiny glass buildings everyday sharp at 10AM and leaves at 7PM, as if their biological clocks are synchronized with that of a computer. The building he enters is of Systematic Statistics, which swallows numbers and data to churn out graphs and pie-charts, where, like any other corporate office, there is little difference between a man and machine. Where a man’s freedom, personality, and individuality are sucked out of him, and in those tidy, dull-colored formal shirt-pants, everyone look the same – rusted and worn out, like a cog wheel. Which he is. In the scheme of this mechanical system, and, in this quest of earning a livelihood, he has lost his liveliness.

If you’ve ever been a part of any corporate job, you would have cursed the Branding/HR department at least a hundred times during your course there. Every office has this “Fun Committee” that has the pressure on them to make their employees feel happy just because one corporate legend said ‘fun is necessary for productivity’. “Why are you not having fun?” yells his boss. Chaturvedi is now made to have fun. Obviously, he is not asked what he would like to do. A set of instructions – like how we program a computer – has to be “obeyed” by him to complete his mandatory procedure of fun. This satire on corporate culture then naturally grows into a whole commentary on the middle-class urban idea of fun. Chaturvedi is taken on the Bollywood’s kidnapping machine — a van, to a surrealistic dark chamber that leads to humankind’s most dreadful construction of all time that now exists on every other road-corner :a shopping mall!

Island City, in its third short, Contact, which encompasses the time span of events occurred in both the earlier shorts, is about the people who is at the receiving end of the technology developed by companies for which people like Suyash works. The protagonist in Contact, Aarti Patel, in her daily job reads newspapers freshly printed off by machines. One day she starts receiving heartfelt, hand-written love letters. These letters make her hopeful of leaving her egoistic, disrespecting, and neglecting fiancé whom her family has chosen for her. But as one day doom strikes –(SPOILER ALERT) —we learn that these letters are no different than the newspapers she read…they have been written by some artificially intelligent machine. This is The-Lunchbox-meets-Her in a traditional space where technology is prospecting to invade. (SPOILER OVER) And as a consequence of the first story, Fun Committee, we see this (failed) technology pushes her back to the regressivity she wanted to escape. In this war of man v/s machine, both are losing out to each other. While we are trying to make machines that speak and feel like humans, we fail to realize that in the process machines are making us one of them.

These two shorts form an arc for man-as-machine and machine-as-man aspects of the narrative. In the second short, Ghost In The Machine, the patriarch father-husband of a Maharashtrian Joshi family is in coma, hospitalized, and is replaced by a TV at home. This replacement of man by a machine turns out not bad after all for the family. The kids, the mother, and the wife see the respective ‘spirit’ of the father, son, and the husband they wanted, in the lead hero of the daily soap, ‘Purushottam‘ (impeccably created) aired on this TV. Kids enjoy seeing him daily; the aged mother wishes well for him; the housewife (lovely Amruta Subhash) can now work as a school teacher which her real husband had denied. Satirical about our daily life and relationships, this is the most hopeful (and also the most “entertaining”) short in this portmanteau feature about the nature of men and the machines.

Technology’s primary aim has always been to advance humankind along with its culture. While the opening and the closing shorts (Fun Committee and Contact) critically looks at the despair it is causing to the human form of life, Ghost In The Machine’s hopefulness, with technology replacing the man of primitive thoughts by the virtual model of another mythological man, keeps the cycle and war of man versus machine going.

@ThePuccaCritic

(Anup Pandey is a corporate machine on weekdays but turns into a human on weekends at the movies. Writes film and Hindi music reviews at thepuccacritic.blogspot.com. Tweets at @ThePuccaCritic )

And we have come to the last day of the festival. Continuing with our daily reviews and reccos, here are the notes from the last of Mumbai Film Festival, 2015.

Our Day 1 Wrap is here, Day 2 is here, for Day 3 click here, Day 4 is herehere is Day 5, and Day 6 is here. And click here to read the post on Christopher Doyle’s Masterclass.

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Fassbinder – To love without demands by Christian Braad Thomsen

So implosive and concentrated, this one demands a second viewing and deserves a much longer post. The complexity and rich denseness of Fassbinder, the enfant terrible of New German cinema, is so attentively and contemplatively sketched, it is fascinating to delve into the mind and heart of the man and film-maker. It pieces together his life from childhood through rare interviews of Fassbinder and of his other associates and what emerges is an idea of a man as passionate, intense and complex as his films. I missed Junun for this but came back with no regrets at all.

Kothanadi – River of Fables by Bhaskar Hazarika

A German distributor of Bollywood films watching this Assamese gem called it the most original work he had seen in the fest and offered his contacts to the debutante director Bhaskar Hazarika. I couldn’t agree more. Brought up on Ukranian folk tales (like literally hugged the 1000 page book of fables to sleep for years), Kothanadi brought alive the magic realism and earthy ethos of folklore effortlessly. 5-6 stories intertwine with narrative threads and characters joining the dots weaving a mesh of parallel stories moving in the same direction. Rooted in its native and socio-political ethos, the film’s complete lack of need to comment or ‘share a message’ has been the most refreshing cinematic experience of recent times. This is my most favourite film at MAMI this year.

Mor Mann ke Bharam – Illusions of my mind by Abhishek Varma, Heer Ganjwala, Karma Takapa 

Whimsical, imaginative and cryptic, Mor is a delight in more ways than one. It’s a film about the illusions of the mind that creates its narrative for the experience of the illusions. Illusions have a vague form and shifting functions and through the treatment of its themes Mor does something similar. The mystification is not self-conscious and touch of humour is refreshing. Especially, the tongue-in-cheek reflection on difficulties of a film artist. Such a pleasant experience!

Tag by Sion Sono

In another dimension of reality I would have avoided a film like this like plague. But clearly, and true to the film’s premise, I wasn’t in that universe and quickly Tag replaced Microbe as winner of the indulgence of the fest award. Horror cum slasher cum acid trip hallucination turned out to be the most fun at cinema halls I have had in the long time. The premise is there is a world of women where each one is slashed to death by the wind and only one survives. Until she realises she is in a parallel reality and is someone else at some other time. The killing and running continues and in each time she has to save herself. No point writing more about this one, check it out when you can, you know where!

Body by Małgorzata Szumowska

Contemplative document on sadness, broken hearts and troubled relationships, Body, completely desentimentalises pain and anguish and simplifies it. It cannot help take a jibe at the Spiritist school of thought emphasising on emotional healing through spiritual techniques and energy principles to arrive at a very human element of laughter and letting go as the simplest road to love and connection. I was hoping I could end the fest with the much-touted Tangerine but then this wasn’t bad at all. See you next year MAMI.

Fatema Kagalwala

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The Mumbai Film Festival concluded with a closing ceremony on Thursday evening where the winners were announced.

Here’s the list of winners in different categories-

HALF TICKET

Golden Gateway Award for Children’s Feature – OTTAL

The Silver Gateway Award for Children’s Feature – Operation Category

Special mention for Acting – Hetal Gada and Krrish Chhabria

Special Mention for Direction : Morgan Matthews for X + Y

The Golden Gateway for Children’ Short – Dina Velikovskaya for Pro Mamu (About a Mother)

Silver Gateway for Children’ Short: Olga Poliektova and Tatiana Poliektova for My Grandfather Was a Cherry Tree

Jury Special Mention for Direction – Mari Sanders for “Daan Durft” (Go Daan Go!)

Excellence in writing in Cinema AWARD – Gaata Rahe Mera Dil” by Balaji Vittal and Anirudha Bhattacharjee

Film for Social Impact Award by Yes Foundation – Jayaraj for OTTAL

Young Critics Choice Award – KAUL

Audience Choice Award – TAXI

DIMENSIONS MUMBAI

The Silver Gateway Dimensions Mumbai Award – THE VOICE Disha Noyonika Rindani

The Golden Gateway Dimensions Mumbai Award – KUNAL Dhruv Saigal

Special Mentions for Dimensions Mumbai – I SHALL BOW Vedanti Chandrakant Dani

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

Jury Grand Prize for International Competition – THITHI by Raam Reddy

Silver Gateway Award for International Competition – Heavenly Nomadic by Mirlan Abdykalykov

Golden Gateway Award for International Competition – Volcano by Jayro Bustamante

Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Directing : Cesar Augusto Acevedo, LAND AND SHADE

Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Acting : Maria Telon of VOLCANO | “Mother Juana”

Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Acting : Farzana Nawabi of MINA WALKING | “Mina”

Special Jury Mention for Ensemble : Sleeping Giant Jackson Martin, Reese Moffat, Nick Serino

Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Screenwriting : Chloe Zhao, SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME

INDIA GOLD

Jury Special Prize for India Gold : An Illusion of My Mind/ Mor Mann Ke Bharam by Karma Takapa, Heer Ganjwala and Abhishek Varma

The Silver Gateway Award for India Gold : Haraamkhor by Shlok Sharma

The Golden Gateway Award for India Gold : Chauthi Koot by Gurvinder Singh