December is festival season in Chennai. Be it the carnival of music or the international film festival, Chennai never fails to impress. The 9th Chennai International film festival started yesterday with 153 selected movies from 50 different countries. As usual the festival is extremely populated with French and Italian movies, but they have made some wonderful selections from other countries too.
The Tamil movie selections for the competition are idiotic and I hope the directors from other countries don’t see our copy cats. It would be a shame rather than a pride. So I will be bringing you short reviews of movies that I see daily. The first day started as usual with registrations and I was smart enough to take my photo for the delegate card because I had 0% confidence in the online upload and registration. The queue was longer than last year. Lots of students and even few normal movie buffs like me have joined the bandwagon. I also saw the usuals from movie world – Santhanabharathi, Ramesh Kanna, CR Saraswathi and Sivaji are a few I see in the festival every year.
The first movie in Woodlands Symphony was marred by consistent power cuts and I lost patience by the third cut, packed my bag and left to Inox to watch the Albanian movie Amnesty
Amnesty is a 2011 Albanian movie directed by Buyar Alimani. It’s a story about two people who meet up in jail when they come for monthly visits of their spouses. They fall in love after becoming witnesses to a wedding in jail but relationship has to end because both their spouses get amnesty from the government. What happens next is shown in usual east european movie style.
Buyar deals with the micro problems of relationships and also the macro economic problems of Albania as a whole. The post communist governmental changes, economic depression and the effects are shown vividly. One brilliant thing I liked about the movie is the way Buyar shows the insignificance of the lead characters spouses. The insignificance is shown by not showing the faces of the characters throughout the movie. Quite a few things are shown in symbolisms and sub texts that are left to the audience to understand. A typical east European fare – 6/10
It won an award in Berlin Film Festival.
Otelo Burning (South Africa)
Otelo Burning is a Zulu language movie produced in South Africa and directed by Sara Blecher. It’s a story set in pre-independent South Africa about a 16 yr old boy who dreams to make it big in surfing. The movie deals with pre-independent civil war and how it affects the life of Otelo, his friend New Year and his brother Ntwe.
In a wonderfully crafted story, Sara deals with lives of teenagers, their dreams of freedom in small town South Africa. Some fantastic acting from the leads make it even more enjoyable. The scenes where Otelo learns about his brother’s murder and the mental agony he goes through while he searches the guy responsible for his brother’s murder are excellently done. Sara keeps the movie simple and rusticity makes it authentic. A 7/10 and definitely a good watch.
Otelo Burning was the opening film of Durban Film Festival 2011 and was featured in British Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival
The inauguration of the 9th Chennai International Film Festival happened in the evening and was officially opened by the honourable minister for information – special program implementation Mr. Rejinthra Balaji. The guest of honour for the event was Shekar Kapur. But the gathering was marred by a protest from Lenin (editor-director), Leena Manimekalai and a small group against the ban of their movie Sengadal ( a movie on Eelam Tamils). It was interesting that they did it exactly after N.Ram’s (Editor in Chief of The Hindu) speech on censorship. In fact both the speeches by N.Ram and Shekar Kapur (before and after the protest) were the highlights of the event. All’s well that ends well. The waiting movie buffs were treated with a classic as the opening movie of the festival.
The Kid with a Bike (France)
When a movie is the 2011 Grand Prix winner of Cannes and the closing movie of Venice Film Festival, you are damn sure that the movie is an instant classic. The Kid with a bike is a story about a small boy left in the government home by his dad and his fight against the troubled childhood. Brilliantly enacted by Thomas Dorat, Cyril as a boy goes through the rejection from his father, fails to realise the love of his caretaker lady Samantha, gets in to trouble through a drug peddler and slowly realises the love he needs is right in front of him.
The simplistic narration of the movie with strong portrayals makes it thoroughly enjoyable. The characters are well etched and you will fall in love with Cyril in the second part as much as you hate in him the first. A must watch classic from the Belgian brothers – Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne. 7.5/10 and a fitting opening to the 9th Chennai International Film Festival.
It won the Grand Prix Award in the Cannes and was nominated for Palm D’or in 2011. Won the Best Screenplay award in European Film Awards and was nominated in the London Film Festival. It was also the closing film in Venice Film Festival.
I expect to watch at least 4 movies today and I hope I can do it.