Seventh BIFFes: Day Four

08 Dec. On the fourth day, it looks the BIFFes is coming to an end too soon! So, every effort to make the best of it is on!

On day four, I could catch up with five films (well, actually a little more than four-and-a-half!): i) The River of Colours (Shahneoyaj Cacoly, Bangladesh, 2014), Coming Home (Zhang Yimou, China, 2014), Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming Liang, Taiwan, 2013), Tales (Rakhshan Bani-E’temad, Iran, 2014), and Natural Sciences (Matias Lucches, Argentina, 2014).

I was keen to watch a Bangla film; but was thoroughly disappointed to see the bollywood influence and melodrama throughout the film. So, that is the ‘a little more than half’ film, which I could not complete! It is about a girl, who with her lousy brother save an unconscious fisherman (young man!) from the river. And then there is that overacting, melodrama and sentimental acting, which is acting!

Coming Home (Zhang Yimou, China, 2014), was probably the best of the Seventh BIFFes, for me. Zhang Yimou is a master, no doubt; he is no new director to me, either. He plays with his visuals like a child; not just that, he romances with his sounds, too! And when the two come together (as in the under-the-railway-footbridge sequence), it is poetry of the highest kind in motion! It’s beyond comparison. During the Cultural Revolution, a Chinese father is targeted; he flees China, when his daughter is still too young to recognise him. His daughter is in Red Detachment of Women; she wants to be the lead dancer, but she is assigned only soldier’s part since her father has ‘committed a crime’ against the country. And this haunts the girl; she would do anything for her country; father is not bigger than the country! Only the wife is caught between the devil and the deep sea. And he returns home after the cultural revolution (1966-67), his wife can’t recognise him. The rest is pure visual poetry! Another lovely cinematic poetry in motion is the sequence in which the girls strain (aerobics) with guns for the Red Detachment. When the camera catches the dancers’ legs in motion, you are elevated in song! I loved the film.

Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming Liang, Taiwan, 2013), is the much admired Taiwanese film maker Tsai Ming Liang. I did not count every shot; but I am sure the 138-minutes long film does not have more than 30-40 shots! When the first shot (which lasts only a meagre 4 four minutes, one of our student-comperes (was told to announced by somebody else) so concerned about the film, he came and apologised to the audience for the ‘technical glitch!
The film is replete with long-very-long-extremely-long-takes! And still camera shots! When I started timing, one shot-length I estimated at 824 seconds! But there was another (the last) shot longer still! The shortest shot I timed (I did not time every shot, please!) was at 42 seconds! But that is what we have come to
expect of Tsai Min Liang! These shots are “conscious and self-reflective shots” of the poor Tipei family, whose father struggles to feed the family. But the film is surrealistic in many of those sequences: he almost “abuses” and strangles his daughters cabbage which she uses as a doll. The cabbage has two eyes and a nose! Or take the longest single-shot last sequence! When you still wonder what is happening, there is ‘imagin’ary magic going on!

Another film by another of my admired Iranian woman film-makers Rakhshan Bani-E’temad: Tales. A good film about a women with taxis. In fact, taxi ride is a metaphor where much of the action takes place, and there is CCTV recording, too! But the film disappointed me because I expected too much from the Iranian film: extreme simplicity and deep profundity.

The last for the day was Natural Sciences (Matias Lucches, Argentina, 2014). There is science class going on about reproduction in plants and vegetation. And the little Lila is in her world: she wants to meet her father four hundred miles away, a man whom she has never met. And then goes to meet him with her teacher. But not before that mischievous sequences of attempting to drive a car even without knowing which is the break and which is the gear! As the start on their decisive journey, I could guess the title of the film! Good movie.

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