After the two days at the KIFF, I wanted to go a few years back to my school days and change my essay on the advantages and disadvantages of technology. I would like to add there that booming smartphone technology has created a severe lack of concentration and focus of the smartphone using community along with a constant tendency to check the dumb boxes at regular intervals for phony notifications or sometimes without any reason irrespective of the time and their location. These habits when practiced inside a theatre, projecting a film, create a huge annoyance to any serious viewer present there. The light from the phone or the sound of the ringtone creates a disturbance and the dilemma lies in the fact whether to protest and miss a scene from the movie or to keep mum and wait till the person stops as both of these create disturbances to a group of neighbouring viewers. Checking of phones inside any auditorium should be made a punishable offence or the use of electronic gadgets in a theatre can be banned (banning things being in popular fashion now!), or something else must be done to solve this or a crisis may arise that cinephiles may refrain from attending any public screenings. It is indeed a sad sight that people are disrespecting the film by engaging in these activities in film festival, whose main purpose is to celebrate cinema.
Despite this invasion of mankind by smartphones and poor projection in Roxy, which I was aware of from past experience, I managed to keep my spirits high at the beginning of the third day (14th November). Olivier Assayas’ horror-drama Personal Shopper is a good attempt in introducing certain dramatic and cinematic moments, otherwise lacking in the horror genre but the complete outcome is not very exciting; Kristen Stewart is okay but not devoid of her cliché and mostly a very humble middle act pulls the film down to some extent and makes it ordinary. Newcomer T.W Pittman and Kelly Daniela Norris made Nakom, about the village of the same name where a young medical student is forced by circumstances to leave his studies and return to his family. The film showcases the traditions and lives of the people of rural Ghana and is an emotional drama of survival and hope. Cheer Me Up by Mili ben Hayl And Tamar Shippony is everything but cheerful; shot in black and white and consisting of many handheld jerky shots the film portrays the wife’s life in chains and her emotions trying to break free from the prison of her husband’s house. Mom And Other Loonies In The Family is a mix of historical comedy as we journey across an entire century of life of a woman and the changing scenarios around her presented in an entertaining manner by Ibolya Fekete. Sainath Parab illuminates the importance of human values over science in his Marathi tale of a blind girl and her husband, who is trying to develop a device to assist the visionless people in the film Disha.
I started the fourth day (15th November) with one of my favourites of the festival, The Woman Who Left by Filipino master Lav Diaz, clocked at 228 minutes is also the longest in my list. It is fable of a woman wrongly jailed for thirty years released to find the world changed and trying to avenge for her wrongful conviction portrayed through imagery speaking tons about the Filipino struggle. I will speak about the film in length in another article. Next was Daniela Fejerman’s Awaiting about a couple trying to adopt a child in Lithuania, in between corruption, state bureaucracy and emotional turmoil. Another Time is story of a young girl’s painstaking motherhood separated from her child in a cruel society of male dominancy by Nahid Hasanzadeh. Haobam Pawan Kumar’s beautifully shot and presented Lady of The Lake shifts from documentary to imaginary in smooth and flawless manner; a quality of a master in making.
Pablo Larrain’s film about Pablo Neruda on the run from the detective Oscar in Neruda, a striking depiction of the personalities of those two, was the first film I saw of the fifth day (16th November). Kivanc Sezer presents a different view and aftermath of death in his film filled with symbolism, My Father’s Wings. Eryk Rocha’s documentary about Cinema Novo movement of which his father, Glauber Rocha was one of the leading figures, is titled Cinema Novo, is composed of visuals and music from the cinema of the movement and interviews or commentaries of the associated directors. 76 Minutes 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami was an unscheduled stop for me as it’s screening was not listed anywhere in the bulletin or webpage. Seyfolah Samadian shot the film on handheld video during his experiences with the contemporary master during travelling, foley-ing, writing, planning, shooting and scouting for locations, and edits it beautifully to give a narrative and an insight into the personality, emotions and psychology of Kiarostami. The end sequence of the auteur enacting the final scene of Through The Olive Trees is one which brought tears to the eyes of many including me. Bauddhayan Mukherji’s The Violin Player tries to be special but lacks in visuals and narrative except the acting by Ritwick Chakraborty and Adil Hussain. If one watches Kim Ki-Duk for the first time by viewing his latest film The Net, he/she will probably like it, but to me it lacked the serenity and especially romantic-violence, so characteristic of his previous films like Bin-Jip, Samaria, Hwal, Pieta etc.
To Be Continued…