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Festival Reports

Kerala Report

Aditya Sunday February 14, 2010

Now established as one of the main cinematographic events in the mushrooming festival landscape of India, the 13th International Film Festival of Kerala, in Trivandrum (locally known as Thiruvananthapuram) was held from December 12 to 19, 2008, under the active supervision of the Kerala State Chalachithra Academy. Although it was marred by much too frequent technical "incidents" (such as delays, power cuts in the middle of a film, and the rather disturbing waves of cellphones left on during the screenings (even though it is forbidden), the festival, under the firm direction of Bina Paul Venugopal, was able to show to the curious local audiences a great variety of films, both local and international, as usual. The Netpac Jury, comprising Freddie Wong from Hong Kong, Sudhir Misra from Mumbai, and myself from France as Chairman had two well-furnished sections to view: the ten Asian films in the competition, and the Malayalam Cinema Today section of nine films, to which two more were added at the last minute as two directors strongly protested against their non-selection, and even went to submit their cases to the High Court, which seemed a very strange reaction, at least to foreign observers (imagine if all the directors of the non-selected films in Cannes or Venice would go to High Court!). The main jury, chaired by Brazilian director Lucia Murat gave its award to the Mexican film Parque Via by Enrique Rivero. The FIPRESCI jury (comprised of Barbara Lorey, Chris Fujiwara, and Manoj Borpujari, from Assam (1), chose the Venezuelian film Postcards from Leningrad by Maria Rondon, and Little Red Seeds (Manjadikkuru), by the newcomer director Anjali Menon, for the Malayalam section. We, in the NETPAC Jury chose two films: My Marlon and Brando (Gitmek), by Turkish director Huseyn Karabey from the Competition section, "for the innovative narrative in portraying a girl's desperate pursuit of love amidst a difficult political context", and The Imprints (Adayalamgal), an opera prima by M.G.Sasi, in the Malayalam section, "for the sensitive and humanistic approach in depicting a young man's strong will to overcome the harshness of life without losing hope". A very promising film indeed, as is Little Red Seeds in its own fresh way. Of course, other films were discussed for our award, with qualities of their own which made them eligible too. Gulabi Talkies by established Bangalore director Girish Kasaravalli, is a simple but pregnant tale of a Muslim woman (Gulabi) who turns her fisherman's house into a kind of TV salon for the neighbouring community, but eventually fails to prevent religious confrontations. Hafez (Iran/ Japan, 2007), by well-known Iranian dircetor Aboufazl Jalili is a stunningly pictured story of an Islamic scholar who is trapped by his forbidden love for his Japanese-born pupil, whom he shouldn't even look at. As for the Malayalam selection (including the two extra "High Court" films), it was generally disappointing, with a strong tendency to the same kind of filming, with sometimes similar stories (Jayaraj's Gulmohar, and Madhupal's Thalappavu, or M.Mohanan's As the Story Unfolds/ Kadhaparayumpol), with over-talkative dialogue-driven scenes. Even if most of the films are technically clever, and aiming at a local audience, they show nothing new in the Malayalam cinema landscape, contrary to The Imprints or Little Red Seeds, or the quite odd and unusual My Mother's Laptop, by newcomer Rupesh Paul, a poet who turned to independent filmmaking. There seems to be a crisis in the renewal of Malayalam cinema, which was once amazingly creative. Another interest of the well-run, very hospitable IFFK is the great opportunity given to the overflowing local audience to catch up with foreign films by reknowned directors, previously shown at Cannes, Venice, Berlin and other major festivals. These included Japanese helmers Kiyoshi Kurosawa's stunningly sharp Tokyo Sonata and Takeshi Kitano's Achilles and the Tortoise, a rather funny spoof of contemporary art. Also included was Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's superb Three Monkeys, among many others. That alone can lead us to forgive the inevitable technical flaws and incidents, and reassess that Trivandrum is one of the major film events in India nowadays. (1) Manoj Barjupari is the editor (with Dr Garima Kalita) of a very comprehensive book on Perspectives on Cinema of Assam (2007), which gives us very valuable information and insight on that rather neglected cinema in India.

Obituary

Sun Shaoyi (1961 - 13th Aug. 2019) Shaoyi Photo It is with great sadness that we inform you of the demise of our senior NETPAC member, Prof SUN Shaoyi (孙绍谊) on 13th Aug 2019. Born in 1961, Prof. SUN Shaoyi did a Masters and a Ph.D from the University of Southern California (USC). He was Professor of Film and Media Studies at Shanghai Theater Academy (STA), taught Chinese film and literature at USC, University of California at Irvine, National Chung Hsing University (Taiwan), Shanghai University and New York University in Shanghai. Read More...