Festival of Films

October 19, 2008

Last week was a fun week. The main reason was the international film festival organised by the arts section of our college. It was a great, ‘free-of-cost’ opportunity for us. We were more than happy with this unexpected fortune, which sure did offer us the chance to get a peek view into some internationally renowned classics, that too at our doorsteps! Last week was also the week for some god damned lab exams, which tried to make things harder for us, but who cares anyway!

We started off with an Indonesian film- ‘The Wall’(2007) directed by Lin chichu Ju. The movie (the opening film) soon became a background happening when the whole of the audience started acting crazy. The comments, both funny and lame, started to fill the auditorium and the mood was soon shifted. All you hear is the long wooing and some occasional claps when a lady appears on the screen. It was a college, and it was an art cinema. Nobody expected anything else in there. It is not like we were bothered by all these, we were simply enjoying it all. Don’t assume us to be some cinematic snobs sitting in the middle of all these and cursing one and all. As I said we were just being part of it all. Soon came a brilliant explicit sex scene, where the protagonist expresses his desires, which were kept in check for long 8 years! Crowd just got insane! The female part of the audience started to flee from their seats as if they saw something they were not supposed to see. As if they were never gone be in sex. You know, when you are there at the scene, it’s seriously funny! After that scene almost 40% of the auditorium got emptied. The male part of the audience also lost their vigour. It was all the more comfortable movie watching after that. Talking about the movie, yes it was beautiful. The cinematography was exceptionally absorbing. Though I was unable to understand the film completely, the credit of having seen an Indonesian film, of which I can’t even find a link in the imdb, is quiet fulfilling!

On the second day, we saw ‘El Violin’ (2005), a well renowned Mexican film directed by Francisco Vargas. Telling the story of a village in Mexico, that gets in between the fight of an insurgent group with the Mexican government, through the eyes of a grandfather, a father and a son, ‘el violin’ surely was one of the best things about this little film festival. Shot in B&W, the movie is both beautiful and touching. Picturising an intense & violent political drama, with not even a single violent scene on the screen was, just amazing. From the very beginning, Ángel Tavira, the actor portraying the old man in the film, would keep you gasping by his natural performance. No wonder he won a best actor award at the Cannes festival. The rest of the cast was also perfect in their roles, like the Capitan played by Dagoberto Gama. The film talks a lot during its short 98 minutes time span, and keeps you interested till the end. One hell of a movie, which I would have definitely missed if not for the film festival!

Gavin hood was the only director with more than one film in the festival. ‘The Storekeeper’(1998) was a short film from him, telling the story of a store keeper in Africa. The storekeeper is worried by the thieves in his place. He invents a number of methods to fight them, but all of them only lead to more dangerous consequences. Silence is effectively used as the language of the film. Like all the Gavin hood movies, this film also travels through the agonies of the poverty struck African people. At the end, “The storekeeper’ will surely leave a chill in the hearts of the viewers.

Gavin Hood’s Oscar winning, ‘Tsotsi’ (2005) was another attraction. This dark emotional tale of a cold blooded gang member and a baby, who accidently comes into his life and changes everything for him, is truly a masterpiece work. ‘Tsotsi’ is an intense experience, which is both well made and absorbing. All credits to the director. When a Brazilian novel is made into a cinema in African circumstances and when it acquires international acclaim, the presence of a contemporary and universal ‘message’ within the film is quiet clear. More than anything, ‘Tsotsi’ is a movie of Hope. For that single reason this one is sure to stand out for a long time.

The next one was ‘The Edge of Heaven’ (2007) by the Turkish director Faith Akin. I’ am not completely sure but I think this was the best movie I saw in the festival. It definitely was the most ‘interesting’ movie among all the others. From scene one onwards you will be engaged with the characters of the movie. The film is essentially about the ‘reach out’ between two generations, two cultures, two individuals. The first thing about this movie is its remarkable narrative style. An up-close character study of a father and a son, two mothers and two daughters, narrated in such beauty and essence that you can’t just take your mind off them, even after you finish watching the movie. The film maker repeats the scenes before us, but the second time we are watching a scene, it would have acquired an entirely different meaning before us. Such techniques keep the audience completely engaged with the flow of the film. The two ways narration employed in the movie is another important aspect. You just can’t stop wondering about the richness in the script. No wonder again, that it won the best screenplay award at the Cannes. The cinematography, the music, the editing everything stands out. The cast was also fine especially Nurgül Yesilçay as Ayten Oztruk. The movie talks about a large number of contemporary issues that are both political and emotional. The movie ends at where it begins and during the journey in between we see a lot about desire, hatred, loss,fear, endurance, redemption etc. and all that remains at the end is true human affection, that knows no gap between generations or cultures or anything. A very rich and rewarding movie experience!

Though I saw a few more movies there, I think this would be enough for this blog post. Apparently, it was really a great experience for me. We tried to make the maximum out this. Then again, about the crowd, after that first day, crowd wasn’t a problem. Actually, there wasn’t much of a crowd after that first day!

** “we” refers to me and a bunch of my ‘mad about movies’ friends…