Monday, January 14, 2013

Pune International Film Festival

Are German films about war? Are Israeli films very smart? Are French movies about love? South Korea, oh they have films there?

We typecast when we don't have the time or inclination to really understand someone. Films are no exception. I used to typecast films shown in such festivals as - short, no songs, non-stupid, most likely having an abrupt vague ending. But that is also not accurate.

This year i chose almost at random. And that turned out to be not such a bad ploy. You see, when we choose too carefully, we see what we already like.

Epilogue (from Israel): People who are passionate in their youth, what do they look like when they are old? I have a feeling their old-age would be lot worse than average people. Passion without energy must be excruciatingly painful. An old couple, living alone, in a society which has changed since their days. They do not understand it nor are they relevant in it. A slow existence filled with memories of the past and none to share them with. Throughout the movie i tried to find someone to blame for this. The government, their kids, degradation of social values, something. But there is really no enemy here, no villain. Old age can be hard and painful and lonely. So, one especially sorrowful night, they decided to leave their old-age behind. I thought it was a happy ending.

Inspector Lavardin (from France): The theatre was almost empty. Generally people space out in such settings, but an elderly uncle came and settled right besides me. Perhaps he didn't like watching movies alone. I don't like that either, so i didn't mind. This turned out to be a murder mystery. Uncle had an habit of stating the obvious. "oh there is blood on his shirt - oh she has a knife - i think the bar-owner killed the priest - no maybe the nurse is the killer, she looks cold". We all play this game, in our minds of course. I, like many others, boost of my ability to crack the case before it is revealed. But time and again i have realized that i cannot do it with foreign films. I don't think the reason is that they are more clever or cunning than us. Perhaps the real clues are not in the plot or the logic of the movie, they are in the characters. Those subtle things that they do, or don't do, that strike you as odd for no apparent reason. But when you remove the cultural context, you are lost. Anyways, this film was delightfully fast, funny and simple. Loved it.

Rosa (from Poland): This was a harrowing tale. Even the few slightly happy moments had a ominous thumping music in the background. Extreme circumstances like war, show the real you. Some pillage and plunger and rape and loot. Some protect and build and love and forgive.

Home for the Weekend (from Germany): The elder son who cannot get out of his father's shadow. The father whose ego is linked with helping his son and perhaps keeping him forever grateful. The younger son who is always treated as a minor turning out to be the most mature of the lot. This is a family story. Beautiful acting and superb settings. Almost every family drama that i see has one core element at the root of it. Our inability to let go of the people close to us. Our expectations from loved ones are always a mix of what is good for them AND what is good for us. But we always glorify the former and deny the existence of the later. Such it goes.

Barbara (from Germany): It is not easy to be a good person. We expect a lot more from someone who delivers. A person who simply pretends to be good can only do it so far. A doctor can save a patient with accurate diagnosis, sit by her side till she recovers. But can she forgo her own freedom and a bright future for that of her patient? This film is about someone who could. Would you give up something that you truly desire, for someone else? I respect people who can do that without regret. But i will not think ill of someone who doesn't to that either. I believe we have a right, first and foremost, to better ourselves in which ever way we can. If some of us decides to put others ahead of themselves, that is a brave decision. There should be no morality associated with it.  But like films we need to typecast people too.

I am twenty (from India): This was a 'Films Division ki bhet' black and white documentary. They were asking twenty year olds what they thought about their country and their future in it. There were people who were very hopeful of the future of India some who thought that it would soon go to the dogs and most who did not care for either. There was a young farmhand from Punjab who had no clue who the President or Prime Minister of India were but knew who the District Collector was. Talk about the British legacy. There was a girl who when asked what comes to your mind when you think of India, she said, queues. Queues for bus, or ration, or admissions. Talk about the Licence-Quote-Permit Raj. Very few people have wider view of the world than their own immediate circumstances. Apparently this documentary was done on 15th August 1967. When India was twenty. 

Explorer (from India): Another documentary from the black and white era. It was a cacophony of images, none lasting for more than 3 seconds. I thought it was a prank film.

Partner (from India): Obviously this was not part of the Film Festival. Perhaps after the weirdness of parallel or tangent or whatever cinema they call it, i needed some time with Sallubhai and Govinda. We put it on as a background entertainment while we had a couple of drinks with friends. There were some funny dialogues sometimes. But i did not like it much.

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