Browsing All Posts filed under »Film Festivals«

Sophia Loren transformed from glam star to great actor in Vittorio De Sica’s ‘Two Women’

November 15, 2020

2 You could say the reason glamorous stars de-glam themselves is because, otherwise, nobody takes them seriously. It’s only when Sophia Loren plays a working mother that we sit up and say, “Oh wow, what a performance!” It’s Rome. It’s World War II. The film is Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women. Cesira (Sophia Loren) runs […]

Fernanda Valadez’s ‘Identifying Features’, playing at Dharamsala, is a poignant drama about would-be illegal migrants

November 7, 2020

0 This is neither about the issue (would-be illegal immigrants) nor the mystery (what happened to the protagonist’s son who tried to cross over from Mexico to the US?). It’s more about a mother… When you think of illegal (would-be) immigrants crossing over, you think of barbed-wire fences, helicopters throwing spotlights on the ground, difficult […]

Jan Komasa’s ‘Corpus Christi’, playing at Dharamsala, makes you think about faith and prayer, sinners and saints

October 31, 2020

0 There is no point in praying mechanically. There is no point in attending church just to get it done with. You don’t even have to be in church to be with God. If you want to step out and play football, God will follow you. In Christian terms, Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) is a sinner. […]

Isamu Hirabayashi’s ‘Shell and Joint’, playing at Dharamsala, is a fascinatingly eccentric dissertation on life, death, shit, sex…

October 24, 2020

3 What is the shape or condition of life? And conversely, of death? Maybe death is the more natural and common condition, while life is a short trip that ends with death. What if suicide doesn’t arise from the desire to not live anymore? What if the impulse to kill oneself isn’t something existential, but […]

Don Palathara’s ‘Shavam’, ‘Vith’ and ‘1956, Central Travancore’ are observational tracts filled with gorgeous “human landscapes”

October 13, 2020

6 ‘1956, Central Travancore’ (2019) premiered on October 5, at the Moscow International Film Festival. It is about the power of stories and storytelling The Malayalam director Don Palathara has made three films: Shavam (2015), Vith (2017), and 1956, Central Travancore (2019), which premiered on October 5, at the Moscow International Film Festival. All these […]

Venice Film Festival 2020 Ameen Nayfeh’s ‘200 Meters’ is a potent dramatisation of what the Wall does to Israelis and Palestinians

September 12, 2020


The Palestinian protagonist won’t get himself an Israeli ID. It’s like how some NRIs won’t get themselves an American passport because they still want to feel “Indian”. It seems like a very ordinary scene out of the very ordinary life of a very ordinary family. Mustafa (Ali Suliman) is fooling around with his wife, Salwa […]

Venice Film Festival 2020: Rodrigo Sepulveda’s Chilean drama, ‘My Tender Matador’, is about a young revolutionary and an ageing homosexual

September 11, 2020


I would have liked to know the source of Carlos’s feelings for Queen, whatever they were. But how can we hope to define something that he himself hasn’t fully grasped? A film festival is a place to discover great films, yes, but sometimes, even a not-bad (i.e. decidedly un-great) film can prove worthwhile. On the […]

Sushma Khadepaun’s Anita: The first Gujarati film to play at the Venice Film Festival

September 11, 2020


A conversation with the director, a Columbia University alum, whose short film is a contender in the Orrizonti (Horizons) Short Films Section. Anita is a 17-minute short about a visiting NRI couple, specifically the wife after whom the film takes its title. She’s gotten herself an internship. She’s thrilled. She thinks it’s the start of […]

Venice Classics 2020: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s ‘The Last Supper’ is a political allegory painted in explicitly religious shades

September 5, 2020


Religion makes “slaves” of us. We are asked to silently accept suffering because “God has willed it that way,” and the more we suffer, the greater the chances of being rewarded with a place in heaven. By the time you read this, the Venice Film Festival will be underway, though not the Classics section, which […]

Chaitanya Tamhane, after the premiere of The Disciple at the Venice Film Festival: “Every film is a new battle”

September 5, 2020


“A part of the film is about a musician going through an existential crisis about his art. Cinema, too, is going through this crisis, even though it’s a much younger art.” It’s the day after the premiere of The Disciple at the Venice Film Festival. How is Chaitanya Tamhane feeling? “Good,” he says over the […]

A review of Ivan Ayr’s sturdy, lyrical character study, Meel Patthar (Milestone), which premiered at the Venice Film Festival

September 4, 2020


This moving tale of a trucker paints a portrait of an ecosystem where everything and everyone appears to be a metaphor for disuse, neglect, ageing. Spoilers ahead… Based on his two deeply empathetic features so far — both of which debuted in the Orrizonti (Horizons) section of the Venice Film Festival — Ivan Ayr likes […]

Venice Classics 2020: Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘The Red Circle’ is a heist thriller with poetry between the lines

August 29, 2020


When we think of a “heist movie”, we think of carefully made plans, careful preparations. But here, things come together… by chance. Quentin Tarantino’s love for French New Wave cinema, especially the crime dramas, is well-documented. He said directors like Jean-Pierre Melville (whose Le Samourai was discussed in an earlier column) took inspiration from the […]

Ashmita Guha Neogi’s CatDog: The only Indian film in the Cannes 2020 list

August 25, 2020


A conversation with the FTII alum, whose short film was one of 13 narrative films and four animated films chosen for Cinéfondation 2020, from 1,952 works submitted by film schools from all over the world. Spoilers ahead… CatDog is a 20-minute film about siblings — older sister, younger brother — who face imminent separation. The […]

Cannes Classics 2020: Bertrand Blier’s ‘Get Out Your Handkerchiefs’ is anchored by a woman who isn’t easy to read

August 9, 2020


Bertrand Blier might be another of those lionised male artistes whose art is ‘problematic’… I am reminded of Márquez’s ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, where a woman wants to ‘die of love’ in her rapist’s arms Bertrand Blier knows luck had a part to play in fetching him the Academy Award for Best International […]

Cannes Classics 2020: Martin Scorsese has restored ‘The Hourglass Sanatorium’, by Polish filmmaker Wojciech Jerzy Has, to its hallucinatory glory

August 1, 2020


All this hallucinatory imagery is rooted in tragedy. The book’s author was shot dead by a Gestapo officer in 1942, for venturing outside the Jewish ghetto and into the Aryan quarter. A bird flies towards the gnarled branches of a leafless tree. It appears oddly lifeless. It doesn’t seem to be flying so much as […]

Kalla Nottam at New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF): Rahul Riji Nair’s interesting, immersive drama sees only what a GoPro camera sees

July 30, 2020


A regular film tells us a story that has been recorded on a camera, and then edited in a way that (usually) gives the audience knowledge that the characters themselves may not have. Here, we travel only with the camera. Spoilers ahead… This film can be viewed at: The owner of a small provisions […]

Run Kalyani at New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF): J Geetha’s Malayalam drama transforms the unremarkable life of a cook into everyday poetry

July 28, 2020


The music is like a bolero, where a theme is endlessly repeated. The tiny variations in each repetition mirror the tiny variations in each day Kalyani wakes up to face. Spoilers ahead… This film can be viewed at: In the morning, before leaving for work, Kalyani (Garggi Ananthan) tends to her aged, bedridden aunt. […]

Cannes Classics 2020: Federico Fellini’s ‘La strada’, The Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and the concept of “existential time”

July 25, 2020


If you wanted to break the film down along the lines of motive and meaning, then you could say that the title (Italian for “the road”) refers to the road of life. We are all wanderers, and the point is to have some purpose… This is the centenary year of Federico Fellini’s birth, and film […]

Diao Yinan’s Berlinale Golden Bear winner, ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’, smuggles fascinating layers into a genre film

July 18, 2020


Genre films can express an attitude towards society, towards reality. In other words, instead of expressing his views on society through a “social” drama, the director is opting to say what he wants to say through stories of crime. The plot of Black Coal, Thin Ice (in Mandarin, and released in 2014) is the stuff […]

Cannes Classics 2020: The ravishing poetry of Wong Kar-wai’s ‘In the Mood for Love’, which turns 20 this year

June 27, 2020


Part of this mood is created through Su’s wardrobe. Like unhappy, unfulfilled women in the movies — think of Sridevi in ‘English Vinglish’, in Sabyasachi saris — Su’s not-a-hair-out-of-place look is a facade for the turmoil inside. One of my favourite film anecdotes has Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich talking about Greta Garbo. The younger […]