Featured Post

Nomadland wins People’s Choice at Toronto

admin   September 21, 2020

Here’s the complete list of Toronto International Film Festival award recipients for 2020. No cash prize is attached to TIFF People’s Choice winners this year

Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland has won the TIFF People Choice Award. The Oscar 2020 favourite for Best Picture Nomadland also was a Venice Golden Lion winner. Frances McDormand explores the vast landscape of the American West, in Chloé Zhao’s wise and intimate portrayal of life as a modern-day nomad. Adapting Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book, Chloé Zhao writes, directs, and edits with impressively crisp focus. The film gets into and out of every scene with rare economy, cutting to the heart of each moment in our growing understanding of Fern.

First runner up is Regina King’s exceptional One Night In Miami which reimagines a real-life 1964 meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. The second runner up goes to Trace Deer’s Beans.

The best documentary prize goes to Inconvenient Indian, while the best Midnight Madness film goes to Roseanne Liang’s Shadow In The Cloud.

Previous People’s Choice winners including Green Book, 12 Years a Slave, and The King’s Speech have bagged the best-picture Oscar.

A longstanding tradition at TIFF, the People’s Choice Award is celebrating its 43rd year. Audiences watching films at the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place, the Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView, the West Island Open- Air Cinema at Ontario Place, OLG Play Stage at Ontario Place, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and at home via digital screenings on the Bell Digital Cinema platform voted online. All films in TIFF’s Official Selection were eligible.

SHAWN MENDES FOUNDATION CHANGEMAKER AWARD

Presented by the Shawn Mendes Foundation, the 2020 Changemaker Award is awarded to a Festival film that tackles issues of social change, and comes with a $10,000 cash prize. The winning film was selected by TIFF’s Next Wave Committee, a group of young film lovers who recognize cinema’s power to transform the world. The Shawn Mendes Foundation will also be making an annual contribution in support of TIFF Next Wave, helping TIFF deliver key initiatives to elevate young voices. The jurors for the Changemaker Award are members of TIFF’s Next Wave Committee: Saharla Ugas, Sia Mehta, Emanuel Ntwig, Julia Yoo, Daeja Sutherland, Lina Zhang, Delphine Winton, Joe Ning, Caterina Ferrari, Visaree Bradshaw-Coore, Andrea Landaeta, and Diego Lopez.

The 2020 Changemaker Award is awarded to Black Bodies, a short film by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall. On making the announcement, the jury said Fyffe- Marshall’s film perfectly fits the criteria and aims of the award. Through its striking visuals and sound design, combined with spoken word, the film powerfully captures the emotional and physical trauma Black people experience and the injustice of police brutality against them. These are issues the Committee felt are particularly important and relevant to young people today.

“Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s Black Bodies powerfully shows what it is like for Black people to live in an unjust society,” said the Committee. “It is moving because the words are too real, it hurts because of all the lives lost to police brutality, and it reminds us how unjust it is that we live in a world where we as young people need to fight to affirm that Black Lives Matter. It is activism against police brutality in moving colour. We’re honoured to award this prize to such a talented and important emerging filmmaker and
social activist in our community.”

“It is such a blessing to receive this award, to be acknowledged, to be seen and to be heard,” said Fyffe-Marshall. “Thank you to the Shawn Mendes Foundation and to the Toronto International Film Festival. I want to use this special moment to further push for change. This year the world seemed to have paused, and we finally heard the call for equality. What we are being called to do doesn’t take much. We just need each of us to do what we can, where we can, and make ripples where we are.”

AMPLIFY VOICES AWARDS PRESENTED BY CANADA GOOSE

Canada Goose embraces diversity in all its forms and definitions, including
technique and passion that transports storytelling to the screen. This year, Canada Goose presents the Amplify Voices Awards to the three best feature films by under-represented filmmakers. All feature films in Official election by BIPOC and Canadian filmmakers were eligible for these awards, and the three winners will receive a cash prize of $10,000 each, made possible by Canada Goose.

The three Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose winners are:

Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: Inconvenient Indian, dir. Michelle Latimer

Jury’s statement: “Michelle Latimer’s documentary is a deeply thought-provoking adaptation of Thomas

King’s classic non-fiction book. It is a scorching indictment that interrogates the narratives we tell about ourselves and whose humanity is valued in that exercise. Expansive yet pulsing with energy and life, it ponders big questions and harkens the coming of a new era of truth and reclamation.”

Special Mention: Fauna, dir. Nicolás Pereda (Canadian Film)

Jury’s statement: “Tonally precise, with a cunning sense of humour, and led by brilliant performances, this film unpacks the influence of violent stereotypes in popular culture on the Mexican psyche.”

Amplify Voices Award: The Disciple, dir. Chaitanya Tamhane

Jury’s statement: “Masterful in its restraint, this film about a struggling classical Indian musician explores the tension between traditional discipline and the contemporary impulse to be instantly validated. The Disciple is a visually sumptuous and insightful journey into the life of an artist.”

Amplify Voices Award: Night of the Kings, dir. Philippe Lacôte

Jury’s statement: “A bold distinctive voice that pushes the boundaries of traditional cinematic storytelling, weaving together myth and reality in a beguiling trance of a movie. The film seduces with its captivating performances from newcomer Koné Bakary and a chorus of performers moving in rhythmic harmony.”

Special Mention: Downstream to Kinshasa, dir. Dieudo Hamadi

Jury’s statement: “A visceral gut punch of a documentary that explores the courage and determination of survivors of war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A harrowing boat journey becomes a visual metaphor of their struggle to be recognized and their resilience in the face of adversity.” The 2020 jurors for the Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose are actor Sarah Gadon, filmmaker Danis Goulet, and producer Damon D’Oliveira.

IMDbPro SHORT CUTS AWARDS

The 2020 IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are for Best Film, Best Canadian Film, and, new this year, the Share Her Journey Award for best film by a woman. IMDbPro will provide each of the three winners with a bursary of $10,000 CAD and a one-year membership to IMDbPro, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, to help them continue achieving success in their careers. These awards build on IMDbPro’s nearly 20-year history of empowering entertainment professionals to discover new talent and projects, and on its ongoing commitment to supporting and collaboratively working with organizations that create greater diversity,
equity, and inclusion in the entertainment industry, including TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign.

The winners of the three awards are:

IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film: Dustin, dir. Naïla Guiguet

Jury’s statement: “Dustin Muchuvitz’s performance pulled us on a journey from night into morning that still lingered with us long after the film ended. Naïla Guiguet has offered us a relatable yet often unseen perspective on growing apart.”

IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film: Benjamin, Benny, Ben, dir. Paul Shkordoff

Jury’s statement: “A quiet yet powerful fim that told us so much about race and class through simple but focused direction.”

IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award: Sing Me a Lullaby, dir. Tiffany Hsiung

Jury’s statement: “This film offered viewers an emotional look at resolving generational trauma.”

Honourable mention: O Black Hole! , dir. Renee Zhan

The 2020 jurors for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are filmmakers Stella Meghie, Adam Piron, and Chloé Robichaud.



Featured Post

20 Films That Make us Believe Freedom is Priceless

admin   August 10, 2020

Saibal Chatterjee

Freedom is nothing if it does not make a difference to the lives of the people who make up a nation. In the manner in which politics and the power dynamic often pan out, ordinary voices are barely heard above the din of rhetoric and empty bluster. As India, the world’s largest democracy, completes 74 years as an independent nation, we draw up a list of 20 films from around the country that celebrate people power in the face of daunting challenges. These films remind us that independence isn’t just about the rulers; it also draws meaning from those who build the nation with their toiling hands and throbbing souls, and from the change agents and activists who are on the frontline of the battle to protect our liberties and rights as citizens.

HirakRajarDeshe (Bengali, 1980)

The film was a celebration of free thinking, people’s power and the healing quality inherent in music

Director: Satyajit Ray
Starring: Tapen Chatterjee, Rabi Ghosh, Utpal Dutt, Soumitra Chatterjee,
Santosh Dutta, Ajoy Banerjee

Streaming ON airtelXstream, hoichoi

Satyajit Ray’s sequel to his 1969 children’s musical fantasy Goopy GyneBaghaByne, three years after the end of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, painted an alarming portrait of the ways of a despot. The protagonists, the magical musicians Goopy and Bagha, reach the kingdom called Hirak, where they find great suffering and starvation among the people even as the heartless tyrant hoards enormous wealth. The king’s ministers are yes-men, all dissent is ruthlessly crushed, and rebels are captured and put through a brain-washing machine. A teacher, the only character in the film who does not deliver dialoguesin rhyme, enlists the support of Goopy and Bagha in a rebellion against the authoritarian ruler. The film was a celebration of free thinking, people’s power and the healing quality inherent in music.

Kathapurushan (Malayalam, 1995)

The freedom struggle, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the advent of the world’s first democratically elected Communist government in Kerala and the declaration of Emergency provide the backdrop for the drama

Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Starring: Vishwanathan, Mini Nair, Aranmula Ponnamma, Narendra Prasad, Urmila Unni

Streaming ON Youtube (unofficial)

The protagonist of Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s masterly film,which probes the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of attempts to chain it through the means of regimentation and political conditioning, is a man who values his freedom more than anything else. Kunjunni is born with a stammer but he is endowed with an inner strength that helps him turn every experience into a new beginning. He falls in loves with the maid’s daughter but is forced to separate from her as political changes rob the family of its wealth, his mother and grandmother pass away, he is disillusioned with party politics, and strays into Naxalism and is arrested and tortured by the police. Through his experiences, Kathapurushan explores the history of post-Independence Kerala. The film moves back and forth between the particular and the universal. The freedom struggle, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the advent of the world’s first democratically-elected Communist government in Kerala, the Naxalite uprising, the declaration of Emergency and the Left’s return to popular favour provide the backdrop for the drama.

Iruvar (Tamil, 1997)

Iruvar tracks the intense intertwining of cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu through the account of the life and times of two friendsturned-foes

Director: Mani Ratnam
Starring: Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Rai

Streaming ON airtelXstream, hoichoi

Mani Ratnam’s 1997 political drama (which, presumably under pressure, was pitched as “not a true story”) traced the rise of three Tamil Nadu chief ministers (M. Karunanidhi, MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa) via a series of crucial state elections. The film, starring Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Rai (in her first big screen appearance), Revathi and Tabu, tracks the intense intertwining of cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu through the account of the life and times of two friends-turned-foes who went on to becoming towering figures both in the world of entertainment and in guiding the destiny of the state. Iruvar, which won several international accolades, ranks among the Chennai filmmaker’s most accomplished works, marked by impressive technical skill.

Mudhalvan (Tamil, 1999)

A chief minister, under constant fire from a truculent television journalist who thrives on asking hard questions, dares the former to run the state for 24 hours

Director: S. Shankar
Starring: Arjun, Manisha Koirala, Raghuvaran, Vadivelu, Manivannan

Streaming ON Voot

S. Shankar’s Tamil potboiler, which the director himself turned into the Bollywood film Nayak (2001) with the Hindi dialogue penned by Anurag Kashyap and Anil Kapoor playing the role essayed by Arjun in the original production, delved in a hyper-dramatic fashion into the popular disillusionment with the political class and conjured up a story aimed at collective wish fulfilment. A chief minister, under constant fire from a truculent television journalist who thrives on asking hard questions, dares the former to run the state for 24 hours. The hero accepts the challenge. Although he faces many pitfalls in his way, the protagonist does such a wonderful job that his popularity shoots through the roof and he sweeps the next polls.  

Sarkar (Tamil, 2018)

A story about electoral malpractices and create awareness about the rights of the people in a functioning democracy

Director: A. R. Murugadoss
Starring: Vijay, Keerthy Suresh, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Radha Ravi

Streaming ON Netflix, SUNNXT

The Tamil film written and directed by A.R. Murugadoss, taps lead actor Vijay’s cult status to tell a story about electoral malpractices and create awareness about the rights of the people in a functioning democracy. The star plays an NRI businessman Sundar Ramaswamy who returns from the US to cast his vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections only to find that his vote has been fraudulently cast by someone else. He launches a fight against an electoral system that allows voting frauds. But that isn’t the only front on which the hero has to wage a war. Two powerful and corrupt politicians, the state chief minister and his brother, are opposed to the crusader. The latter enters the electoral fray himself to stop the politicians from getting away with their misdeeds. Sarkar makes a strong case for electoral reforms in the country. 

HazaaronKhwaisheinAisi (Hindi, 2003)

It is a rare Hindi film dealing with the eventful Emergency years during which many young people jumped into the bruising battle for the creation of a more just society

Director: Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Kay Kay Menon, Shiney Ahuja, Chitrangda Singh

Streaming ON Netflix

Set in the 1970s, in the years before and after the Emergency promulgated during the reign of Indira Gandhi, Sudhir Mishra’s evocation of a turbulent period in Indian political history revolves around three Delhi college students, two boys and a girl, who go their own ways after completing their education. One of the boys, driven by revolutionary zeal, becomes an ant-caste activist, the other sets up an office in Delhi to pursue his business goals. The girl leaves for Oxford for higher studies. A few years later, their paths crossagain in the cauldron of a people’s movement that severely tests their idealism as the nation witnesses sweeping political and social changes. HazaaronKhwaisheinAisi– the title comes from a poem by Mirza Ghalib – is a rare Hindi film dealing with the eventful Emergency years during which many young people jumped into the bruising battle for the creation of a more just society – a movement that is still on even as it comes up against ever stiffening resistance from the powers that be.

Bhootnath Returns (Hindi, 2014)

A ghost contests and election and wins

Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Parth Bhalerao, Boman Irani, Usha Jadhav, Sanjay Mishra, Brijendra Kala

Streaming ON Youtube movies

In Bhootnath Returns, the electoral system is projected in a relatively positive light but the corrupt politician still comes out looking as shady as he has ever been on the big screen. Amitabh Bachchan, playing a benign ghost, takes on a shady politician and wins. The Election Commission, impressed with the film’s messaging, advised state governments to grant it tax exemption. What did Bhootnath Returns suggest? That only a ghost stands a chance in the hurly-burly of fictional poll battles.                                 

Newton (Hindi, 2017)

It revolves around a battle of attrition on the frontline of Indian democracy between an earnest poll official and a security force commander

Director: Amit V. Masurkar
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil, Raghubir Yadav

Streaming ON Amazon prime

Amit V. Masurkar’s political black comedy revolves around a battle of attrition on the frontline of Indian democracy between an earnest poll official and a security force commander, both charged with the same job but driven by contradictory compulsions.Newton is a low-keybut telling exploration of the workings of the electoral process. A newly recruited government official leads a small poll team under paramilitary protection to a remote, violence-prone part of Chhattisgarh that hasn’t voted in years. The man, earnest to a fault, has unwavering faith in the electoral system and is determined to ensure a 100 per cent turnout despite the heavy odds that he is up against.The CRPF commander, in contrast, is more interested in getting out of the jungle with his men before sundown. It is an all-out face-off between earnestness and cynicism.

Court (Hindi/Marathi/Gujarati/English, 2014)

The film lays bare the anomalies of lumbering judicial system that is ill
equipped, if not outright reluctant, to serve the powerless

Director: Chaitanya Tamhane
Starring: Vira Sathidar, Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Pradeep Joshi, Usha Bane

Streaming ON youtube

Chaitanya Tamhane’s remarkable debut film is a scalding narrative that lays bare the anomalies of lumbering judicial system that is ill equipped, if not outright reluctant, to serve the powerless. Narayan Kamble (played by real-life activist ViraSathidar), feisty Dalit folk poet, is accused of abetting the suicide of a Mumbai manhole worker found dead in a noxious sewer.He sings of inconvenient truths and exhorts the downtrodden to fight for their rights.He is charged with inciting the impoverished municipal worker to take his own life.Tamhane develops this absurdist plotline into a caustic indictment of how insensitive law enforcement seeks to grind people into submission. The screenplay, marked by impressive acuity,reveals the deeply ingrained prejudices that breed skewed notions of sedition and national interest.

Nirbachana (Odia, 1994)

The film laid bare several bitter truths in one sweep about the connection between rural distress and electoral skulduggery in the world’s largest democracy

Director: Biplab Ray Chaudhuri
Starring: Bhima Singh, Durlav Singh, Bikash Das, Bidyut Prava Patnaik

Not available for streaming

In an Odisha village surrounded by stone quarries, the headman, contesting a state election, announces a bribe of Rs 100 for each vote. An impoverished couple – their son is about to wed and they need every extra rupee – ‘adopts’ a tuberculosis-afflicted beggar, their eyes on the money his vote will fetch. Before polling day, the old man’s condition worsens and he has to be carried through the quarries to a hospital. They lose their way and stray into a dynamite blast. The beggar is blown to pieces.That, in a nutshell, is the plot of the 1994 Odia-language film Nirbachana (Election), adapted by director Biplab Roy Chowdhury from a story by Bengali writer Prafulla Roy. This remains one of the most savage takedowns of rural elections ever. The film laid bare several bitter truths in one sweep about the connection between rural distress and electoral skulduggery in the world’s largest democracy.

Panchavadi Palam (Malayalam, 1984)

A political satire takes sharp potshots at the political scenario in Kerala

Director: K. G. George
Starring: Bharath Gopi, Nedumudi Venu, Sukumari

Streaming ON Youtube movies

Spearheaded by a trio of great Malayali actors, Bharat Gopi, Thilakan and NedumudiVenu, K.G. George’s political satire takes sharp potshots at the political scenario in Kerala. A politician wants to have a perfectly serviceable bridge demolished so that a new one can be built in its place and named after him. A rival politician opposes the plan until he figures out that the relocation of the bridge would lead not only to the construction of a new bridge but also the laying of a new road. The contracts for the road and the bridge are given to two separate contractors, one owing allegiance to the party in power, the other enjoying the support of the opposition. The opportunistic arrangement leads to the construction of a bridge that does not last long.     

Sinhasan (Marathi, 1979)

The film depicted the helplessness of the man in the street faced in a
socio-political environment where his/her voice counts for nothing

Director: Jabbar Patel
Starring: Nilu Phule, Shriram Lagoo, Mohan Agashe, Nana Patekar, Satish Dubhashi, Jairam Hardikar

Streaming ON Youtube Movies

Sinhasan, a seminal Marathi political drama scripted by Vijay Tendulkar (on the basis of two novels by journalist Arun Sadhu) and directed by Dr. Jabbar Patel, forayed into the unstable world of a chief minister struggling to retain his authority over a state in the grip of drought, rising prices and youth unrest. The film depicted the helplessness of the man in the street faced in a socio-political environment where his/her voice counts for nothing. Although true to the the realities of the period that it is set in, Sinhasan, which featured some of Marathi cinema’s finest actors (Nilu Phule, Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Mohan Agashe) resonates to this day because of the universality and timelessness of the truths that it so powerfully articulated.   

Swades (Hindi, 2004)

Swades told a story of hope, courage and the power of collective will

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Kishori Ballal

Streaming ON Youtube movies

Written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Swades was a worthy follow-up to his Lagaan. It is justifiably regarded as one of the most ‘complete’ Bollywood films ever made. A NASA scientist of Indian origin returns to his roots and inspires his remote north Indian village to produce its own electricity. Swades told a story of hope, courage and the power of collective will. Shahrukh Khan’s un-starry star turn and skilled blend of social philosophy and mainstream entertainment made it a film to remember.

MeeSindhutaiSapkal (Marathi, 2010)

Incredible true story of a woman who surmounted a series of personal
misfortunes on her way to emerging as a celebrated social worker who
devoted her life to taking care of abandoned, homeless children

Director: Ananth Narayan, Mahadevan
Starring: Tejaswini Pandit, Jyoti Chandekar, Upendra Limaye, Neena Kulkarni

Streaming ON YUPPTV

In this remarkable Marathi biopic, actor-director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan tells the incredible true story of a woman who surmounted a series of personal misfortunes on her way to emerging as a celebrated social worker who devoted her life to taking care of abandoned, homeless children. Born in a cattle-grazing family and married before her teens to a much older man who left her, Sindhutai overcame major obstacles to raise funds globally for an orphanage. This inspirational, uplifting film serves to showcase the admirable spirit of a woman who refused to be cowed down by social circumstances loaded against her. Its efficacy stems from the realistic approach of the storytelling, which steers clear of overstatement of any of the facts of the heroine’s life.

Hu Tu Tu (Hindi, 1999)

The film probes the genesis of youth disaffection

Director: Gulzar
Starring: Nana Patekar, Sunil Shetty, Tabu

Streaming ON Disney+hotstar

In poet-lyricist Gulzar’s last directorial venture, which probes the genesis of youth disaffection and the rise of militancy, the mood is dark. Young people, frustrated with the way the nation is run, are angered enough to conspire to not only kill others but also themselves if the need be. They have turned into ticking time bombs.Two of the principal characters in Hu Tu Tu, a rural schoolteacher-turned-politician and her mendacious mentor, are faces of the politics of expediency that has impacted the electoral sphere. “Politics naukrinahinhai, business hai, bahut bada business (Politics isn’t a job, it is business, big business),” says the woman. At the other end of the film’s spectrum is a Dalit activist and poet (played by Nana Patekar, who also had a role in Dr. Jabbar Patel’s Sinhasan) who articulates the frustrations of the people in his songs, one of which goes: “Ghaplahai bhai ghaplahai (It’s all a scam).”

Dev (Hindi, 2004)

Dev was a piercing commentary on the fractious times that we live in

Director: Govind Nihalani
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Fardeen Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Om Puri, Amrish Puri

Streaming ON Disney+hotstar

Govind Nihalani plunges headlong into the world of policing, politics and popular disenchantment in this story of two senior police officers, lifelong friends, who finds themselves caught between a powerful politician. One of them is upright and law-abiding, the other is willing to compromise with principles. Circumstances take an unfortunate turn and a young law graduate and a beautiful young woman are dragged into a violent spiral that pushes the city to the edge. Innocent lives fall prey to the machinations of politicians bent upon fishing in trouble waters. With fine performances from Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri and Kareena Kapoor, Dev was a piercing commentary on the fractious times that we live in.      

Leader (Hindi, 1964)

One of the earliest Hindi films that addressed the nexus between crime and politics

Director: Ram Mukherjee
Starring: Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Jayant

Not available for streaming

One of the earliest Hindi films that addressed the nexus between crime and politics, Leader was based on a story by Dilip Kumar. The actor plays an educated young man, Vijay, who edits a tabloid that specializes in provoking debates and questioning the status quo. He has disdain for self-serving politicians and revels in delivering combative speeches aimed at arousing the general public. He is accused of murdering a leading politician. Director Ram Mukherji’s film raised pressing issues that the people of India, a nation that had gained Independence less than two decades earlier, had begun to face as a result of unfulfilled promises. A little over a decade later, the Angry Young Man, embodied on the screen by Amitabh Bachchan, was born. Leader was the film where Vijay (the name of the male protagonist in a slew of 1970s and 1980s Bachchan films such as Deewar, Trishul and Shakti) was born.

Peepli Live (Hindi, 2010)

The film narrate a story rooted firmly in the depressing realities of rural India

Director: Anusha Rizvi
Starring: Omkar Das Manikpuri, Raghubir Yadav, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Naseeruddin Shah

Streaming ON Netflix

Writer-director Anusha Rizvi’s debut feature, a disarmingly simple but remarkably powerful film, is a major triumph. She taps the strength of the medium to narrate a story rooted firmly in the depressing realities of rural India, but without ever going into paroxysms of self-righteous indignation.Peepli Live lampoons an entire range of usual suspects — voyeuristicmediapersons, smarmy bureaucrats, scheming local-level political goons and self-serving rulers, all of whom want a piece of the sleepy village where a farmer is about to kill himself so that his family can survive. Thanks to the film’s nifty blend of humour and bathos, it does not slip into diatribe mode. It instead acquires the spiky edge of a pulsating yet biting satire that exposes the hypocrisy that informs our attitude towards the agrarian crisis that has been pushing farmers into a debt trap.

Dr. Prakash Baba Amte – The Real Hero (Marathi, 2014)

Biopic about social activist Baba Amte’s son, Dr. Prakash Amte, a selfless doctor who has devoted his life to the uplift of the tribal people of the forests of eastern Maharashtra

Director: Samruddhi Porey
Starring: Nana Patekar, Sonali Kulkarni, Mohan Agashe

Not available for streaming

Starring Nana Patekar in the eponymous role, this film, written and directed by SamruddhiPorey is a biopic about social activist Baba Amte’s son, Dr. Prakash Amte, a selfless doctor who has devoted his life to the uplift of   the tribal people of the forests of eastern Maharashtra. Aided and supported at every step by his wife, Mandakini, a role played by Sonali Kulkarni, the doctor is a shining example of what community leadership can achieve when it is channeled into the work of making a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable. Hemalkasa, the dense forest where Dr Amte works, is today an unparalleled success story.     

Antarnaad (Hindi, 1991)

The film tells a story of the lives of several individuals residing in two villages who practice Swadhyaya – a ritual that involves the study – and
understanding – of the self

Director: Shyam Benegal
Starring: Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Girish Karnad, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri

Streaming ON youtube movies

The odd one out not only in this list but also in the oeuvre of the veteran filmmaker ShyamBenegal.Antarnaad does not address either the social or the political so much as the intensely personal. To highlight the experiments of spiritual teacher and activist Pandurang VaijnathAthavale, which hinged on social change driven by a sense of the divine, the film tells a story of the lives of several individuals residing in two villages who practiseSwadhyaya – a ritual that involves the study – and understanding – of the self. Five people – including a poor fisherman, a smuggler and a widow looking for revenge after the death of her husband – undergo profound changes. The film has a cast that includes Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and Kulbhushan Kharbanda.    

Indian (Tamil, 1996)

Director: S. Shankar
Starring: Kamal Haasan, Manisha Koirala, Urmila Matondkar, Sukanya

Not available for streaming

A vigilante action film elevated by Kamal Haasan’s bravura performance in a dual role, Indian revolved around a former freedom fighter who mutates into a violent crusader against crime and corruption. The protagonist employs an ancient martial arts form in his mission against the wrongdoers. The Shankar-directed film was until the late 1990s the biggest box office success in the history of Tamil cinema. Indian has a message to convey, but it is laced with popular ingredients aimed at the masses. Special effects, elaborate song and dance routines, action sequences and of course the lead actor playing two distinct characters captured the imagination of the audience. The cast of Indian includes Bollywood actresses Manisha Koirala and Urmila Matondkar. A Hindi version of the film (titled Hindustani) was released nationwide.     


From the Editor (August 3-9, 2020) Pickle Edition

admin   August 6, 2020

Till now it was a dream. Now it has become closer to being real. Our students will have the flexibility to study Python and Performing Arts together. Subjects like Dance and Design which once were to be pursued as a hobby, can now be a mainstream subject from sixth grade to PhD.

We are talking about the New Education Policy unveiled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. The nine-member team lead by space scientist Dr Kasturirangan authored the New Education Policy (NEP) which has brought in a massive mind shift in mainstreaming creative and performing arts education in the country.

A casual chat with Ashish SK, an industry veteran in animation, gaming and VFX space who has been propagating this idea with a zeal of a crusader resulted in this week’s lead feature on the big picture impact of NEP for media and entertainment industry. There could not have been a better game changing moment for the Indian M&E sector.

Another big moment for India this week was Chaitanya Tamhane’ s Marathi film The Disciple being selected in the 77th Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Competition Section. For the first time in 19 years, an Indian film found a place in the world’s leading film festival. The Disciple will also be screened in the 45th Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Saibal Chatterjee’s article explains why it is a best moment for India. Also India’s regional film spread is visible this year at Venice. Ivan Ayr’s Punjabi film Meel Patthar (Milestone) and Sushma Khandepaun’s Gujarati short film Anita have found a space to compete in the Venice Film Festival. The Heritage Online launched by Locarno Pro is one of the best innovative services that has been created in recent times. More than that, it will be remembered and etched in History as this has evolved and shaped during the pandemic. This meaningful initiative aims to bring heritage films to the audiences of online platforms.

“Our new project Heritage Online fills a gap in the audiovisual industry landscape and will foster links between rights holders, VOD platforms and world cinema distribution,” says Heritage Online Project Manager Markus Duffner.

Feel free to email your thoughts and suggestions.

n vidyasagar
pickle media
http://nat@pickle.co.in,
http://www.pickle.co.in


Featured Post

18 Must-See Films at Venice 2020

admin   August 5, 2020

After months of cancellations and postponements necessitated by the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns, big screens will flicker to welcome back international cinema at the 77th Venice Film Festival. Of course, the 2020 edition of the world’s oldest film festival has fewer films, curtailed sections, socially-distanced screenings and masked audiences. The raft of restrictions will be a bit of a dampener all right but the fact that a major celebration of cinema is finally going ahead, if only in the form of a scaled down version, is a cause for cheer. It may not be business as usual, but business it will be. By Saibal Chatterjee

Lacci(The Ties)

The first Italian film since 2009 to open the Venice Film Festival, Daniele Luchetti’sLacci, based on a 2017 novel of the same title written Domenico Starnone is about a marriage threatened by infidelity, bitter recriminations, agony and contrition. The film’s cast is led by Alba Rohrwacher and Luigi Lo Cascio. Lacci, set in 1980s Naples, plays Out of Competition.

Director: Daniele Luchetti
Country: Italia
Language: Italian
Cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Luigi Lo Cascio, Laura Morante, Silvio Orlando, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Adriano Giannini, Linda Caridi

La Sorella Macaluso (The Macaluso Sisters)

The Palermo-set drama directed by playwright and actress Emma Dante is about a closely-knit group of five sisters whose lives are thrown into disarray following a tragic beach accident. The film, which is in Competition, is an adaptation of Dante’s own 2014 play. Her first film, A Street in Palermo (2013), won a clutch of prizes of Venice.

Director: Emma Dante
Country: Italia
Language: Italian
Cast: Viola Pusateri, Eleonora De Luca, Simona Malato, Susanna Piraino, Serena Barone, Maria Rosaria Alati, Anita Pomario, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ileana Rigano, Alissa Maria Orlando, Laura Giordani, Rosalba Bologna

Nuevo Orden (New Order)

Mexican director Michel Franco’s sixth feature is the only film from Latin America in the Venice Competition. The film, set in the near future, is about a high society wedding invaded by a group of seemingly poor people. It is a harrowing portrait of economic disparity and a society where violence has been normalized. 

Director: Michel Franco
Country: Mexico, France
Language: spanish
Cast: Naián González Norvind, Diego Boneta, Mónica Del Carmen, Fernando Cuautle, Darío Yazbek, Eligio Meléndez

Amants(Lovers)

French actress-director-screenwriter Nicole Garcia’s ninth feature, a thriller revolving around a love triangle, competes for the Golden Lion. In Paris, a woman, while on vacation with her husband, revives a passionate liaison with her former boyfriend. The dalliance threatens to lead to a murder. Amants stars Stacy Martin, Pierre Niney and Benoit Mogimel. 

Director: Nicole Garcia
Country: France
Language: English
Cast: Pierre Niney, Stacy Martin, Benoît Magimel

Dear Comrades

Top-flight Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky’s black-and-white Competition entry is an account of a real-life 1962 massacre of Soviet workers demonstrating for better working conditions in the town of Novocherkassk. The incident was covered up by the Soviet regime. It came to light only in 1992 after the fall of communism in Russia.

Director: Andrei Konchalovsky
Country: Russia
Language: Russian
Cast: Julia Vysotskaya, Vladislav Komarov, Andrei Gusev, Yulia Burova, Sergei Erlish

Wife of a Spy

Cult Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, best known for his forays into horror and the supernatural, tackles wartime Japan for the first time in this drama that will compete for the Golden Lion. In the 1940s, a merchant leaves his wife behind and travels to Manchuria, where he witnesses an act of barbarism. The man’s subsequent actions trigger trouble for him and his wife.  

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Cast: Yu Aoi, Issey Takahashi

Sun Children

Iranian auteur Majid Majidi’s new film centres on a 12-year-old boy Ali and his three friends. To support their family, they work in a garage and resort to petty crime. Matters take a turn when Ali is entrusted with the task of finding an underground treasure. But to do so he must enrol in charitable institution for street children.

Director: Majid Majidi
Country: Iran
Language: Persian
Cast: Ali Nasirian, Javad Ezzati, Tannaz Tabatabaie, Rouhollah Zamani, Seyed Mohammad Mehdi Mousavi Fard, Shamila Shirzad

Pieces of a Woman

Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo’s  seventh feature and first English-language film is an American-Canadian production. Pieces of a Woman, a Golden Lion contender, revolves around a mother who has lost her child after an ill-fated home birth. The tragedy has severe ramifications on her relationship with her husband and her estranged mother. The film stars Shia LeBeouf, Vanessa Kirby, Ellen Burstyn and Sarah Snook.  

Director: Kornél Mundrucz ó
Country: Canada , Hungary
Language: English
Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Jimmie Fails, Molly Parker, Sarah Snook, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie

Miss Marx

One of four Italian titles in the Competition lineup, Miss Marx, directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli, is biopic about Karl Marx’s youngest daughter, Eleanor, played by RamolaGarai. A woman of exceptional drive as a social activist and women’s rights champion, her life was torn asunder by a passionate and tragic love affair.

Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Country: Italy , Belgium
Language: English
Cast: Romola Garai, Patrick Kennedy, John Gordon Sinclair, Felicity Montagu, Karina Fernandez, Oliver Chris, Philip Gröning Giordani, Rosalba Bologna

Never Gonna Snow Again

This Competition title is a Polish-German co-production helmed by Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert. It tells the story of a Ukrainian migrant working a masseur in Poland who becomes a guru-like figure in the gated community where her clients live.

Director: Małgorzata Szumowska , Michał Englert
Country: Poland, Germany
Language: Polish
Cast: Alec Utgoff, Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza, Weronika Rosati, Katarzyna Figura, Andrzej Chyra

Nomadland

California-based Chinese director Chloe Zhao’s competes for the Golden Lion with her third feature. The cast of the road movie is led by Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand and Academy Award-nominated actor David Strathairn. McDormand plays a woman in her 60s who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, embarks on a journey through the American West living as a van-dwelling nomad. 

Director: Chloé Zhao
Country: United States
Language: English
Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

And Tomorrow the Entire World

German director Julia von Heinz is in Competition with this film, a timely drama set against a backdrop of racist violence in Germany. The female protagonist is a member of an anti-fascist front that is violently opposed to the neo-Nazis. As the situation worsens, she and her friends are forced to go into hiding. The film is the first feature of the production company set up by the filmmaker.

Director: Julia von Heinz
Country: Germany, France
Language: German
Cast: Viola Pusateri, Eleonora De Luca, Simona Malato, Susanna Piraino, Serena Barone, Maria Rosaria Alati, Anita Pomario, Donatella Finocchiaro, Ileana Rigano, Alissa Maria Orlando, Laura Giordani, Rosalba Bologna

The Duke

Playing Out of Competition, British theatre, television and film director Roger Michell’s The Duke, which brings to the big screen the true story of a 60-year-old taxi driver (played by Jim Broadbent) who stole a Francisco Goya painting from National Gallery and demanded as ransom free TV for the elderly. The film also has Helen Mirren in a stellar role.

Director: Roger Michell
Country: United States
Language: English
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren, Fionn Whitehead, Matthew Goode, Anna Maxwell Martin

Sportin’ Life

Another Out of Competition title, this non-fiction film by veteran American director Abel Ferrara was during quarantine. It is about the filmmaker taking his previous feature Siberia for its world premiere at the Berlinale in February before the Coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt. Sportin’ Life features Ferrara’s frequent collaborator, actor Willem Dafoe.

Director: Abel Ferrara
Country: Italia
Language: English
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Cristina Chiriac, Anna Ferrara, Paul Hipp, Joe Delia

Nowhere Special

Italian producer and director Uberto Pasolini, known for producing The Full Monty, directs James Norton as a window cleaner unwaveringly committed to his three-year-old son. When he is given months to live, he attempts to find a new family for the three-year-old. Nowhere Special, filmed in Northern Ireland, is in Venice Orizzonti.

Director: Uberto Pasolini
Country: Italy , Romania, United Kingdom
Language: English
Cast: James Norton, Daniel Lamont

Mainstream

Gia Coppola’s Orizzonti title, through a story set in Los Angeles and centered on a love triangle, questions the devastating power of social media. The cast of the American film featuresSpider-Man star Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff and Jason Schwartzman. Coppola previously directed the critically acclaimed Palo Alto.

Director: Gia Coppola
Country: United States
Language: English
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, Nat Wolff, Jason Schwartzman

The World to Come

An adaptation of a short story by Jim Shepard, Venezia 77 Competition title The World to Come is directed by the Brooklyn-based Norwegian director Mona Fastvold. The film, set in mid-19th century American East Coast, is about two neighbouring couples who battle hardships that are aggravated by isolation. Casey Affleck, Vanessa Kirby, Katherine Waterston and Christopher Abbott star in The World to Come.

Director: Mona Fastvold
Country: United States
Language: English
Cast: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, Casey Affleck

Laila in Haifa

Israeli auteur Amos Gitai is in Competition with Laila in Haifa. The story, which interweaves the experiences of five women, unfolds over one night in a club in the port town of Haifa. The French-Israeli co-production provides a snapshot of one of last remaining spaces in the country where Israelis and Palestinians can still freely interact.  

Director: Amos Gitai
Country: Israel
Language: Hebrew
Cast: Maria Zreik, Khawla Ibraheem, Bahira Ablassi, Naama Preis, Tsahi Halevi, Makram J. Khoury


Featured Post

Indian Trio in Venice

admin   August 5, 2020

For the first time, three Indian films have been selected at the Venice Film Festival – Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi movie The Disciple (Golden Lion Competition Section), Ivan Ayr’s Punjabi film Meel Patthar  (Orizzonti Features Competition) and Sushma Khadepaun’s Gujarati flick Anita (Short Films Competition). By Saibal Chatterjee

It has been a terrible year thus far. Pandemic-struck, the entire world has ground to a halt. Filmmaking has been put on hold, cinema halls are shuttered, and festivals have been thrown off gear. But The Disciple has pulled off a miracle. Amid the gloom, Chaitanya Tamhane’s sophomore outing has ended a nearly two-decade-long drought for India cinema.

The first film from the subcontinent in competition in one of the ‘Big Three’ festivals – Cannes, Venice and Berlin – in 19 years, The Marathi-language film will be vying with 17 other films for the 77th Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion. The jury is headed by Cate Blanchett.

The Disciple is set in Mumbai but in a milieu far removed from Court, Tamhane’s debut.The 2014 film examined the anomalies of the Indian judicial system, weaving the tale around the death of a manhole cleaner, the plight of a protest singer who is accused of inciting suicide and the question of freedom of expression. The Disciple, the synopsis indicates, is set in the rarefied world of Indian classical music.    

Tamhane, 33, is of course no stranger to Venice. His uber-realistic courtroom drama Court not only played in Orizzonti in 2014, it won the section’s Best Film prize in addition fetching the director the Luigi De Laurentiis Award.

The synopsis of The Disciple reads: “Sharad Nerulkar has devoted himself to becoming an Indian classical vocalist, a lifelong quest in which few succeed. Initiated into this centuries-old tradition by his father, he follows his dream with sincerity and discipline, committing himself entirely to his artistic journey.

“As he strives to attain the highest level of his craft, Sharad traces his way through the hallowed mysteries and rituals of past musical legends. But as the years pass, Sharad will be forced to negotiate between the complex realities of life in contemporary Mumbai and his chosen path, leading him to find his true voice in music and in life.”

In a press release, Tamhane has said: “This is an important milestone for not just for us but also for the Indian independent cinema movement. The Disciple has been a true labour of love, and collectively we have poured every ounce of energy, effort, and love into it over the last four years. It has been a beautiful collaboration and I’m thankful to all of the film’s extremely dedicated actors and the entire crew. I am relieved and happy that it has found such a great start for its journey even in these tough times.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if The Disciple goes all the way and scoops up the Golden Lion? The importance of the Venice Competition slot for Tamhane’s film obviously lies in the fact that the last time an Indian was here was way back at the turn of the millennium. Felicitously, that film, Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding (2001), went on to win the festival’s top prize.

Not to forget, the year before, a Bengali film, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Uttara (The Wrestlers, 2000), was in the Venice Competition and it earned the filmmaker the Special Director Award. If The Disciple returns with an award, it would be three-in-a-row for India.

In case you wish to look for any other positive signs in favour of The Disciple, it could be this: Satyajit Ray’s 1957 Golden Lion winner, Aparajito (The Unvanquished) was also the director’s second film. Among the films that Aparajito beat on the way to gold was Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood.

So, what is The Disciple up against? A spread of films that are amazingly diverse and imposing, including Michel Franco’s Nuevo Orden, Amos Gitai’s Laila in Haifa, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Dear Comrades, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Wife of a Spy, and Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary about life at night in the Middle East, Notturno.

India will have two other shots at Venice glory this year – in the Orizzonti features competition with Ivan Ayr’s Meel Patthar (Milestone) and the section’s short films competition with Sushma Khadepaun’s Anita.   

In Ayr’s 98-minute Hindi/Punjabi film Milestone, one of 19 titles in Orizzonti competition, the past catches up with a truck driver in his 50s. “He has got to a point where he is well respected in his company but the future appears very uncertain,” the director says. The film looks at how that “sometimes gets him desperate and reveals bit by bit his inner fears, his life choices and his journey.”

Among the other films in Orizzonti competition are Lav Diaz’s Lahi, Hayop, Gia Coppola’s Mainstream, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special and Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s Yellow Cat.

Ayr’s first film, Soni, was in Orizzonti in 2018. The director was at the Berlinale earlier this year to pitch his “second film”, but he had another film in the works that he talked about. That is where Venice got wind of Meel Patthar, which Ayr competed five or six days before he flew to Berlin.

“I showed them an initial director’s cut. In fact, I hadn’t even told them I was working on a film. Word just got to them, probably because I talked about the film to everyone I met in Berlin,” say Ayr.

“Meel Patthar,” Ayr says,“is a very personal story of just one character. I say it is personal because many of the elements come from own experiences with my extended family. I have extended family in India, the US and Canada who are in the transportation business.”

Meel Patthar has Punjabi actors Suvinder Vicky (from Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot) and Lakshvir Saran.

Sushma Khadepaun’s 17-minute Gujarati short Anita was conceived as a feature-length film about a woman looking for freedom through an arranged marriage in the US. But things do not pan out as she expects them to and she finds herself trapped, completely dependent on her husband.

The director says that the story of the film “comes from personal experience”. She adds: “What the short film is asking is: is it possible to go away completely from where and with what you have grown up?”

“It is still evolving,” the New York City-based director says. “I am working on expanding the protagonist’s relationship with her husband. The short film has emerged from that process.”

Anita was filmed near Valsad with mostly Gujarati actors. “Only Aditi (Vasudev) does not speak Gujarati. I cast her a year before the film was made. She learnt the language,” says Khadepaun.

“A platform like Venice gives the film a push and opens up the possibility of it finding a wider audience,” she says. “In fact, given the situation we are all in, just the thought of being able to see the film play on a big screen is exciting.”

Film Bazaar backs emerging filmmakers

Many of the subcontinent’s most applauded, well-travelled contemporary films and festival films have taken shape – and wings – on National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar platform that has made mentoring and networking facilities available to emerging filmmakers.

All three Indian filmmakers — Chaitanya Tamhane, Ivan Ayr and Sushma Khadepaun — who have made it to Venice Film Festival 2020 have had their film journeys and mentoring at Film Bazaar. Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court was part of the Film Bazaar Co-Production Market in 2012. Ivan Ayr’s Soni was part of the Work in Progress Lab in 2017. Sushma Khadepaun’s Sabras was in Co-Production Market in 2019.

As an incubator of new film projects in India and the rest of the subcontinent, the NFDC Film Bazaar, now in its 14th year, has rendered yeoman service by engendering an ecosystem that allows originality to thrive while not losing sight of tried and tested ground rules that have proven beneficial.