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MFF 2011, Day 3: How I saw my first Adoor Gopalakrishnan film

By Devang Ghia • Published on October 16, 2011

[I]f you are going to be late for a film called The Slut, be prepared to be seated in the front rows. For those who came in for the sleaze, it offered an eyeful of graphic love making scenes. Those in for the love of cinema must have been disappointed. The Israeli film by Hagar Ben Asher who also stars was about a single mother who could not keep male attention at bay. Trouble arises when one of her lovers moves in with her. Not a complete wash out but the end disappointed.

Around ten guys including me had lined up outside Screen 5 which was to play Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Swayamwaram. An obviously single girl walked up to us and enquired, “Is this the queue for Swayamwar?”

The screening was sparsely attended, which is a pity because the director himself was present. The film seemed heavily inspired by Ray’s Apu Trilogy, especially the last two parts.

At yesterday’s discussion, Victor Ginzburg had spoken about his film Generation P and that had piqued my interest. As people went by for the Wong Kar-Wai film, I expected Ginzburg’s film to be an easy access. But weekend throngs had populated the lobby in a twisting line. I was amongst the last ones to get in. The film was akin to one of those smart, sassy Hollywood productions like Thank You for Smoking, with liberal use of computer graphics where old fashioned camera work will simply not do. A copywriter in post-Soviet Russia grapples with inspiration and the onslaught of American brands into Russia.

Two screens were earmarked to play the French film The Artist. Everyone was virtually guaranteed a seat, or so I thought. A last moment shocker, a poster outside one screen proclaimed – ENTRY ONLY FOR 150 DELEGATES. Yet another reminder perhaps that more than one screenings are required for popular films. Perforce, I settled for a documentary, Miyar House by Ramachandra P. N. playing to a near empty house. It documented the demolition and reconstruction of an ancestral house in Karnataka. I felt it was too personal a statement to hold the public’s attention. After an hour, the screening stopped abruptly giving me ample of time to queue up for The Whistleblower.

A superb film by director Larysa Kondracki about the U.N. peacekeeping forces involved in trafficking teenage girls in Bosnia. The film followed a familiar pattern in that it was inspired by shocking true events and ended with statistics and factual statements about the event(s). What I liked was that the film never hit the sensationalism note. Even when the audience realizes what’s going to happen next, it chooses to keep the central character one step behind. A dangerous move, but it worked. Rachel Weisz can expect an Oscar call this year.

For those who missed out on The Artist, a 10 pm screening was scheduled. Bah! I’ll watch it on DVD some day.

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