First a confession – this time I was not in Goa to attend the IFFI. Some other work ensured my presence in Goa in the last week of November. And to be in Goa during the time of the international film festival and not to be affected by the same is a crime one can’t accuse me of committing. Hence in between my other commitments, I did sneak out as often as I could and spent as much time as possible to catch up with the festival. And thankfully, I did end up catching a few gems! They need not naturally be the widely acclaimed or popular ones – but they were gorgeous nevertheless.
This Turkish film (in collaboration with France & Germany) tells the story of five orphaned sisters in a village in the north of Turkey, whose boundless lust for life runs up against the confines of a conservative Muslim society. Lale and her four sisters come home to the village from school, innocently playing with boys – but their games causes a scandal with unintended consequences. The more the girls fight for their freedom, the more (well meaning) elders – ironically, led by the ladies of the family – turns their home to a prison. Housework and cooking replace school and talk of marriage becomes more and more louder. And the five sisters, driven by the same primal desire for freedom, start fighting back in different ways, sometimes with tragic results.
The New York Times beautifully sums up the mood of the film when it says, ’For a film about death, “Mustang” is incredibly alive’. While watching the film, the viewers could easily feel the sub-text of Turkey’s eternal dilemma – caught between two cultures and continents, how many of its young adults are forced to embrace a confused identity. Co-scripted by French filmmaker Alice Winocour, it was the debut film of the Turkish/ French director Ms Deniz Gamze Erguven. ’Mustang’ was premiered in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award. In IFFI theBest Actor (Female) Award was shared by the film’s five lead actresses – Gunes Sensoy, Doga Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan and Ilayda Akdogan.
Another film in the international competition in this year’s IFFI is the Serbia-German co-production called ‘Enclave’. The film talks about children growing up in a conflict zone. Set in 2004, five years after the war, the film unfolds with its protagonist Nenad- a ten year old Christian boy from Serbian enclave. Every day Nenad is taken to school from his father’s farm in an armored car to study alone in a school with no other pupils. Like any boy of his age, all Nenad wants are some friends of his own age. Every day through narrow observation slits in the military vehicle, he sees two Albanian boys and a shepherd boy. The shepherd boy had lost his father in the war and hates Serbs. When his grandfather dies, determined to create a proper community burial for his late grandfather Nenad crosses the enemy lines and makes friends with the Albanian boys and their Muslim contemporaries in a deeply divided, war torn land. The theme of the film is bound to resonate with the audience from any conflict zone of the world and touch a chord. A dark subject narrated with the simplicity of a child’s point of view, the film leaves its audience with hope – especially till the time there is innocence of the children, who is going to inherit the planet tomorrow- prevailing.
Directed by Goran Radovanovic, this film is Serbia’s entry to the best foreign language film in the 2015 Oscars.
Screened under the section ‘masterstroke’ – a section that showcases the latest films of the masters of world cinema – this beautiful Japanese film is directed my Ms Naomi Kawase, who came into the limelight in 1997 by becoming the youngest winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film festival. ‘Sweet Red Bean Paste’ was selected to open the Un Certain Regard section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
This beautiful film with an outstanding sound design (with minimalistic use of music) narrates the story of a man named Sentaro, having a secret past, who runs a small bakery that serves dorayakis – pastries filled with sweet red bean paste. When an old lady, Tokue, offers to help in the kitchen, he accepts with much reluctance. But with her secret recipe, Tokue turns the small bakery into a huge success with people waiting in long queues for dorayakis…till the time an old secret reveals that Tokue is a recovered leprosy patient, thus making the ‘loyal’ customers turn their back on the bakery…
A veteran filmmaker and advertising professional Fenando tends to fall in love rather too easily. In spite of emerging from his third divorce, he remains an incurable romantic. He is invited by his friend to the picturesque Menorca islands. But circumstances take him to the house of an attractive artist Nuria who lives in constant conflict with her teenage daughter. The result is a comic conflict, till romance triumphs.
Screened under country in focus (Spain) section, the film is directed by veteran filmmaker Fernando Colomo who also had played the role of Fer. Colomo had directed his first feature ‘Paper Tigers’ in 1977 before getting international fame with ‘The Dragon Knight’ in 1985.
Screened under cinema of the world section, this film from Netherlands is a thriller based on the story of one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in Dutch history. This is the story of intensive care nurse Lucia de Berk, aka ‘angel of death’. When she is present at one inexplicable death too many, her hospital alerts the police. And an ambitious district attorney Judith sees it as an opportunity to make her career. Eventually though the evidences started troubling the conscience of Judith, who finds inconsistency in the witness statements and suppression of lab evidences and she decides to fight for the very woman whom she had got convicted earlier…
Director Paula van der Oest, known for her portrayal of strong, independent women in her work, shines brightly in this film too. And at times, due to the similarity in the undertone of the subject, the film ends up reminding one of Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Talvar’. This film was selected as the Dutch entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.
Screened under ‘Festival Kaleidoscope’, this Canadian- French co-production directed by Sophie Deraspe tells the story of a young outsider Elie. In the rough waters of the North Atlantic close to the St. Lawrence estuary lie the Magdalen Islands. This is where Elie has landed up. For the young woman from Montreal, this wild romantic island seems like an ideal place to sort out her life. The snows are melting and the seal hunt is in full swing. The presence of this mysterious foreign woman sparks feelings of both curiosity and mistrust amidst the closely knitted island community. Is she a critical journalist who wants to portray their self-contained microcosm in a bad light? Or is there something more to her presence?
In this beautifully shot poetic drama, one can also feel the presence of strong documentary & cinematography background of the director – it almost make us an arm chair tourist of the beautiful island amidst the onslaught of harsh climate.