Seventh BIFFes: Day Sixth Day

10 Dec. There comes the penultimate day at the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes), and it ends! Five more films, mostly good films and a happy day. It all started with the Iranian The Paternal House (Kianoush Ayary, 2012), went on to Behaviour (Ernesto Daranas, 2014, Cuba), 3X3D (Jean Luc Godard, Greenaway, & Edgar Pera, 2013, Portugal), Fly Dakota Fly (Seiji Aburatani, 2013, Japan), and Dukhtar (Afia Nathaniel, 2014, Pakistan).

Iranian cinema, one of my all-time favourite, has been a let down, this BIFFes. I expected much from Ayary; but a disappointing show. Save for the opening sequence where you see the house from clouse up to long shot to extreme long shot, and then a young woman crying and running for her life, and the father ordering her to complete the carpet before the owner comes, there is nothing cinematic about this film. Gross and insensitive, this film fails to rise to artistic demands. Picturising gory and crude violence (honour killing) of the daughter will never make it to aesthetic realms, no matter how cruel and true-to-reality it is. The guilt of this honour killing is supposed to haunt the family for three generations across 70 years, but it touches not even first-hand culprits!

Ernesto Daranas’ Cuban film is a portrayal of a teacher-student relationship. The poor Chala is a difficult boy, both at home to his single mother Sophia and at the orthodox school. The film has many witty moments even in the dark saga between the little girl and Chala, and affectionate ones between Caramen his teacher and him. The teacher’s religious-spiritual conviction to keep the picture of the Virgin of Charity, which guides and strengthens her in her commitment also gives her the strength to deal patiently with her “difficult” students. So also, she a tough teacher with the management; she can challenge them! When someone asks her why she still keeps typing making so much of noise, in stead not use a computer, she replies, words must make sound! She makes sounds, and ultimately she is the winner.

Then comes the triptych 3X3D by Jean Luc Godard, Peter Greenaway, and Edgar Pera. This film I thought was a brilliantly carved masterpiece, erring only occasionally. While Greenaway’s In Time “guided tour through the monastery” with tremendous superimpositions, split-screens, text, characters/letter floating through the vacuum, multiple exposure, images and photographs, the viewer is simply transported to a fairy, imaginary world. I guess the city of Portugal is at the centre? Anyway, an avalanches of images in 3D!
Godard is brilliant; in fact, his capsule -called 3 Disasters– could stand on its own! The audience engagement with 3D as against 2D and its future is a concern for the future of cinema.
I enjoyed Pera’s Cinesapiens too, though not as much as I enjoyed Greenaway and Godard. His is a travel through the history of cinema: realism vs fantasy. A virus has attacked humanity – called Filmitis. Quite a curious, humorous bit, but not to the quality of Godard and Greenaway, anyway! I loved this triptych, nevertheless.

Seiji Aburatani’s Japanese film Fly Dakota Fly was sort of a poetry in motion! The world war-II defeated Japanese meet their European conquerors. But this time with all humility and affection, whereas the European flyers the same arrogance. In the bargain you see the massive landscape of Japanese seacoasts, water and beautiful sea as never photographed before! The post-War saga has a Dakota making an emergency landing on a Japanese coast due to the engine failure; the Japanese are a worried lot especially because they are British; planes frighten them. Nevertheless, they take the risk of welcoming them, and showing them (and us!) their culture and hospitality. It is the love story not just of a British soldier and Japanese beauty Chiyoko (which hardly is visible), but more about the war ever present (‘he has left the war, but the war has not left him!’) in the society.

And the last for the day was the Pakistani Dukhtar by Nathaniel. According to the synopsis and also associate/producers who attended the screening with us, it is supposed to be the saga of mother-daughter relationship. But I thought, the saga was the relationship between the mother and the truck driver who saves them, and that calls the shots in stead of the mother-daughter bond. The rivalry between two tribes demands that the child Zabuina (?) be given in marriage to the old rival tribal leader. But mother won’t have it; she escapes with her little daughter to save her from this child marriage. And the rest is history, as they say! Wait, there is much more: the beautiful landscapes of Karachi and Lahore! Some of the shots of the arid deserts are surrealistic. I sure commend the film for its cinematography and landscape, to learn what the other side of Pakistan is as against the representation in our Indian media! The story, per se, is a bit melodramatic (though surely much better than bollywood/ Bangla films!)
All in all, a great day!

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