Pune Film Festival 2011-4

Today is National Youth Day, celebrated on the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. The person who said – Give me hundred youths, I shall change the World, and Arise, Awake  and Stop not till the Goal is Reached, was a fierce individual, whose ideals need to be imbibed by the citizens if we are to develop the nation and take it to  new heights.

A good news today – I am part of BITS Alumni now. Got Masters Degree certificate from BITS Pilani in a convocation ceremony today! Check out my post on MS graduation.

My 4th day of PIFF 2011-

1)      Escape from Call Centre (Italian)
Young Gianfranco Coldrin, a model university student with a degree in volcanology, makes a trip through hell on the lowest rung on the professional ladder in a call center. When his adoptive grandparents send them off into sudden undesired independence, Gianfranco and Marzia come up against the grotesque reality of an upside-down world governed by rather suspicious individuals in which university degrees and skills have no value. Marzia wants to be a reporter but finds herself forced to accept employment as a switchboard operator for an erotic hotline, while Gianfranco sinks into the trap of holding down 2 jobs. Despite the enthusiasm of their youth and good intentions, the contrast between their expectations and the reality of a “horribly expensive” life end up having an impact on their relationship. Everything suddenly seems unstable and about to collapse: their sentiments as well as their jobs. But then something happens… (watch the rest of the movieJ)

2)      A passion play – Chokher Bali (Bengali)

Cover of "Chokher Bali"

Cover of Chokher Bali

Chokher Bali, a passion play set between 1902 and 1905 is a story of a beautiful, educated woman, Binodini, struggling to free herself from the oppression of widowhood. Widowed within a year of marriage, she moves into Mahendra’s house, the man who was once offered her hand in marriage and refused. There she meets Mahendra’s wife Ashalata and friend Behari, who is in and out of the house. Among these develops s forbidden attraction, a mesmerizing web of destiny and desire.
The film based on the novel Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore. It was directed by Rituparno Ghosh in 2003 and stars Prasenjit as Mahendra, Aishwarya Rai as Binodini and Raima Sen as Ashalata.

3)      How I ended this summer (Russia)
A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere… the end is tragic.

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Pune Film Festival 2011-3

The movies I watched on third day –

1)      Silent Wedding (Romania)
In 1953, a Romanian village has gathered for a wedding; the happy couple, the guests and the banquet are all ready… just at that moment, the Russian army arrives. Stalin is dead and the nation must mourn. Under threat of death, the oversexed couple, their vexatious fathers, the entire town and the muted gypsy band continue the celebration in silence.
This overwhelmingly visual film moves effortlessly from joyous eroticism, through rural pastiche to the dreadful tension of the mute wedding itself. Along the way we encounter a carnival of characters, the longest fart joke in historyJ and the truly dreadful reality of life under communism.
The comedy is laid like bait, enticing us into the tragedy yet to unfold.
I laughed my heart out through this movie. I must say, this was one of the best movies in this film festival.

2)      The last summer of La Boyita (Spanish)
In an apparently bucolic setting, a secret is revealed, accidentally, spontaneously. Returning from a horse ride, Jorgelina sees a bloodstain on Mario’s saddle. There is another one on Mario’s pants. Mario doesn’t know what to say, he has no idea as to why. Jorgelina will accompany him on his road to discovery, fear and ultimately, acceptance. This revelation, instead of separating them, will bring Jorgelina and Mario closer than ever.

3)      Taryanche Bait (Marathi)
Shreedhar Surve works as a clerk and leads a happy and contented life with his family in a beautiful konkan village of Maharashtra. His life takes a turn when he takes his wife, son and daughter with him on an official tour to Mumbai-the financial capital of India. Dazzled by the sights, Omkar, Shreedhar’s son insists on staying in a five star hotel that Shreedhar can’t even dream of affording. In order to placate his son, Shreedhar wager’s a night’s stay at the hotel if Omkar comes first in his school exams.
Omkar is in the game. The bet is on.
attempts to win the bet and the extent to which both father and son are pushed by the harsh realities of life makes for this funny, emotional, bitter-sweet tale.

Pune Film Festival 2011-2

Continued from Day 1

1)      Woman of the mist (Japan)
a drama of lower middle class family and economic and emotional problems. Rather than advising his wayward nephew to concentrate on his studies, his uncle takes the younger out for a night of revelry. Its only when the student becomes involved in a life-altering predicament that the uncle assumes responsibility for his charge.
Director – Heinosuke Gosho directed the first “talking” picture in Japan in 1931 and came to excel in what film historians classify as Japan’s “shomingeki” genre, or movies that depict the lives of the lower and middle classes with both realism and humor.

2)      The Human Condition (Japan)
This is an epic story of one man’s struggle to retain his humanity as he descends into the turmoil of the Pacific war. His own moral standards are challenged while attempting to come to terms with man’s basest tendencies. Based on a 6 volume novel which the director compressed into 3 features, each over 3 hours long, the trilogy established Masaki Kobayashi’s international reputation. The first installment won one of the top prizes at the Venice Film Festival.
the film depicts the effects of World War II on a Japanese pacifist and socialist.

3)      Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (Marathi)
the film traces the true story of Sindhutai Sapkal, who dramatically rewrites her destiny. Born into a poor family, she is married at 12 to a 30 year old man, but is abandoned by her husband and her own family following false accusations of infidelity. About to commit suicide, she notices a tree which, though axed, still gives a shelter. Moved, she sets out on a journey towards dignity, setting up 5 orphanages fro abandoned children – even going to San Jose, USA (Marathi Sahitya Sammelan), to give fund-raising speeches. When her aging husband turns up at the orphanage, she graciously ‘adopts’ him. The film’s deep humanism in the face of injustice and humiliation gives it a universal resonance.

Pune Film Festival 2011

I last attended Pune International Film Festival in January 2009. Looking at my enthusiasm for movies, a fellow from my profession asked me to pursue it professionally. Frankly, I am of opinion that certain hobbies, passion or the things one is fond of should be kept as hobbies or passion rather than making them a profession. Otherwise the happiness/joy is lost, which is the purpose behind them!

I watched a few movies in PIFF 2011 and here is a glimpse of a few of them…

Here is a glimpse of some of them…

1)      My Widow’s Husband (Ukraine)
Eccentric billionaire Albert Castandi is up to his neck in debts. To avoid paying up, he fakes his own death, stages a funeral and bequeaths all his assets to the future husband of his young and beautiful wife, Anna, played by Kamaliya – the Ukrainian actress, pop singer and wife of Kyiv Post publisher Mohammad Zahoor.

However, his clever plan doesn’t exactly work and Anna soon finds herself in lots of trouble. She has to repulse the intrigues of a florist-gangster, fight off annoying suitors, and naturally deal with her hapless “recently deceased” husband. Amid this turmoil, she meets a charming foreigner, John Smith and better watch the rest of the part.

2)      Taita Boves (Venezuela)
“Taita Boves” chronicles a thirst for revenge that devastated a country. It tells the true story of Jose Tomas Boves, a cruel man who became a legend during the Venezuelan War of Independence, the most violent in the Americas. He went from seafarer to pirate, horse smuggler to prosperous merchant, prisoner to military chief. Spanish by birth, he spearheaded a grass root troop of slaves, Indian etc. that crushed Simon Bolivar and his patriot army. Respectfully referred to as “Taita” by them, he fought for the underprivileged and the poorest of the poor, and curtailed 3 centuries of order in this colonial region. This film is about his passions and power, his loves and misadventures, and a bloody saga that rocked Venezuela.

3)      The girl on the train (France)
Jeanne is a young woman, striking but otherwise without qualities. Her mother tries to get her a job in the office of a lawyer, Bleistein, her lover years ago. Jeanne fails the interview but falls into a relationship with Franck, a wrestler whose dreams and claims of being legitimate business partnership Jeanne is only too happy to believe. When Franck is arrested, he turns on Jeanne for her naivety; she’s stung and seeks attention by making up a story of an attack on a train. Is there any way out for her? In a subplot, Bleistein’s grandson, Nathan, prepares for his bar mitzvah and through an encounter with Jeanne, experiences intimation s of manhood.

4)      Tycoon (Japan)
An amoral businessman achieves fame and fortune but is ultimately abondoned by his wife, child and concubine. The capitalist’s thirst for power leads to his isolation. A representative director of social protest films, Yamamoto excels in the realistic portrayal of the characters and underscores his sympathy for the underprivileged.

5)      Aaghaat (Marathi)
Directed by Vikram Gokhale, a well known Indian film, TV and stage actor, the film depicts the ups and downs in a patient’s life and goes on to portray the fight of a young doctor against the established systems and practices.

PIFF Day 6 (14 Jan 2009)

I took the day out to watch movies and watched 5 in line.

1. Caramel (Sukkar Banat)

Director Nadine Labaki

Country : France

Set in and around a Beirut beauty saloon, Caramel stirs together the smooth and the crunchy of 5 women’s lives. This is a film where one looks past war and politics to the eternal truths of love and passion. The director Labaki herself plays Layale, leading an ansemble cast that generates enormous warmth and wit onscreen. The film has a rich visual palette, where the salon and its activities are shot with a touch of magic realism and dream like compositions.

2. First Time (Mudhal Mudhal Mudhal Varai)

Director : Krishnan Seshadri

Country : India (Tamil)

Charming Hayagreeva aka Huggy’s passionate about filmmaking and he records people on his digital camera including himself. Huggy intends to marry his girlfriend Sindhu who suffers from a fatal illness. While he is desparately looking for a producer, hemakes a living as a nn ad film maker. Amidst these parallel tracks in his life, uggy finds the culmination of his passion in a plethora of his characters. He records their experiences only to realize that the unforgettable moments have become his first feature film!

3. Gho Mala Asla Hava

Director: Sumitra Bhave, Sunil Sukhtankar

Country : India

A strange, musical, teenager love story. A story of a rural young girl Savitri, who revolts a gainst the age old custom of matchmaking by the elders. The story unfolds like a folklore, breking into sons, in a humourous way to depict the involvement of the whole village in Savitri’s wish fulfillment.

4. Faro La reine Des Eaux (Faro Goddess of the rivers)

Director : Slif Traor

Zanga returns to his rural Mali village after being cast out many years back for the reason that he was born out of wedlock, making him a figure of scorn to the locals. He is now a successful engineerdetermined to usher his village into modern era – much to the constrnation of the superstitious villagers who previously shunned him. He also wants to know the identity of his biological father. But when the girl drowns in the sacred river, locals draw the conclusion that river Goddess Faro is enraged at Zanga’s return. A sacrifice is called for; Zanga must once again stand upto superstition and patriarchal oppression, while still searching desperately for the key to his identity.

5. Stellet Licht (Silent Light)

Director : Carlos Reygadas

Silent Light revolves around married Johan who falls in love with another woman, Marianne. Johan, a devout Mennonite, battles with his conscience in the hope that of maintaining stability within his family; despite the belief that Marianne is his “natural woman”. A fictional story about everyday rapture in an isolated Mennonite community in northern Mexico — and performed by a cast of mostly Mennonite nonprofessionals –the film was written, directed and somehow willed into unlikely existenece by Carlos Reygadas, who immersed himself into this private worls.

6. Harischandrachi Factory

Director : Paresh Mokashi

Country : India

Dada Saheb Phalke had abondoned a well establishedprinting business after a quarrel with his business partner. He decides he would never enter into printing business again. It was during one fo his job searches that he accidentally stumbled acrossa tent theater that was screeing a silent motion picture. The idea of film making struck him. Along with his wife and 2 kids by his side, he ventured into a filed unknown to contemporary India. Making Indai’s first feature film, ‘Raja Harischandra’ was an amazing adventure. Together, not only did they deliver the first Indian film, but they had ensured it to become the first super hit film too!

7. Cafe Saterah

Director : Saman Moghadam

Country : Iran

The overlapping tales of 3 women who live in a poor Iranian neighborhood unfolds before the audience by revisiting certain plot points from different perspectives. Each revisit reveals new  new insight into the characters’ motivations and struggles. Thsi engaging story centers around people who frequent the Cafe Saterah and how each of them leaves a mark on the lives of the 3 main female characters.

First female character loses her husband who tortures her, 2nd character’s boyfriend is jailed just before their marriage while 3rd one manages to find her lovw and marry in the end.

PIFF Day 5 (13 Jan 2009)

I could watch only one movie in World Showcase today.

Salawati

Director : Marc X Grigoriff

Country : Singapore

A 12 year old Singaporean-Malay girl has recently witnessed the untimely death of her older brother Shahim. Her mother tries to hold the family together, while her father struggles to control his misdirected anger thus revealing the manner in whichthe family deals with this tragedy. Salawati’s story is intertwined with 2 others: an Indian courier guy with a penchant for drinking and fighting; and a Chinese who is consumed by career goals. It becomes increasingly apparent that each of these men played some role in the death of her brother, and as Wati begins to follow them, darker mystery unravels.

Her father becomes too nostalgic in every scene and iterates a story of his dead son mostly to his wife.

PIFF Day 2 (10 Jan 2009)

I got my seasonal pass of Pune International Film Festival for Rs. 500 today enjoyed 4 movies as part of World Showcase and International Competition in a row.

  1. Machan

Director : Uberto Pasolini

Country : Sri Lanka, Italy, Germany

Young Sri Lankans submit a bogus application to the German Embassy and assemble a Sri Lankan National Handball Team from a collection of mismatched personalities who all dream of moving to the West for a better life. But the getaway is crushed on being greeted by an arena full of sport fans eager to applaud the prowess of their team. Based on a true story, Machan deals with the dilemma of the fake team – should they run before the inevitable arrest or should they fight on to defend the national pride at the cost of risking the end of their dream?

The actor comes from a family having innumerable blind beliefs; and they are portrayed while he goes to get German visa from the embassy. The film won Toronto International Film Festival award in 2008. I left the movie after watching it for few minutes to watch Cold Showers.

  1. Cold Showers

Director : Antony Cordier

Country : France

The story of three teenagers: a beautiful girl, Vanessa, and 2 boys, Mickael and Clement-one rich, one poor. The story of Mickael – Judo fanatic and doomed lover – and his parents, both convinced that the sky will one day come crashing down on their heads, and both more than able to cope when it does. Blackly comic, brutally funny, heartbreaking, truthful.  About happiness and hardship, sex, luck, catastrophe and  tragedy.

  1. Second Half

Director : Hilde Heier

Country :Norway

This theme of the movie is same as that of Rock On film, the only difference is that the movie focusses on first half and ends with beginning of the second half.

‘Second Half’ tells us how it is not all easy to be a man. While the father visits his wife, suffering from Alzheimer,s disease in a nursing home every week, his 2 sons have have their own problems. Sverre reluctantly participates in an attempt to boost a relationship that has gone dull. Erik on the other hand, is going through a divorce and has moved in with a new woman. None of the men are very talkative, but they communicate thought heir shared passion for the soccer team-Skeid. Three men realize that they have gone beyond their best years, attempt in every way to make “the second round” of their life an enjoyable one.

  1. Katyn

Director : Andrej Wajda

Country : Poland

Katyn describes the tragedy of a generation. It follows the story of 4 Polish families whose lives are torn apart when, at the outset of world war II, a great number of Soviet soldiers fall into the hands of Soviet troops and brutally become victims of Stalinism. The Katyn forest massacre was  a mass execution of Polish citizens ordered by Soviet authorities in 1940.Estimates of the number of dead range from 15000 to almost 22000. Katyn tells the story of women – mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters of the Polish prisoners of war who were mass-executed.

Director Andrej Wajda surely owes appreciation for showing the scenes in which Polish officers are shot in head from back. These scenes along with music kept me glued to chair.

I came out of the theatre with a sense of fulfillment after watching some good European movies.