Of Seventh BIFFes, Seven Days and 33 Films

11 Dec. It is over! The seventh Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) is over. Now one more year’s wait is all that remains!

We, the students and the staff from Communication Department of St Joseph’s College Autonomous, made the best use of it, methought. Or at least, our near best. That is 48 students from the Department of Communication as volunteers actively engaged in conducting/executing the various aspects of the BIFFes plans; eight teaching/technical faculty attending the fest, and one of them (YT) almost pitching his tent at the Festival theatres!

And I overhead a few people commenting on our student-volunteers appreciatively. It was twice in the elevator: people neither knew me or nor my students! Two senior delegates discussing how good the volunteers were! And then, once in the cinema hall some ladies complimenting my student-volunteers (once again, neither they knew me nor I them)! Felt very good for my students. Not just did the students benefit from first-hand involvement and exposure, facing on-the-spot challenge, and helping one and all in enjoying movies, but also bearing good witness to St Joseph’s! I am proud of you my students!

And then, of course, my movies! Doesn’t that magic figure 33 look significant in many ways!? Full stop!

Seven days full of world class movies! And that is enjoying and learning full-time from international films! A rare privilege! Initially four films a day, then five a day, and on the last day, six! Worth every bit of it! Window to the physical, psychological, spiritual, material-immaterial world, especially to a film-studies teacher!

On the last day, today, I could watch the maximum six possible films: Reunion (Ryoichi Kimizuka, Japan, 2013), Of Horses and Men (Benedikt Erlingsson, Iceland, 2013), Illiterate (Moises Sepulveda, Chile, 2013), With Others (Nasser Zamiri, Iran, 2013), and Test (Aleksandr Kott, Russia, 2014).

Reunion is about a retired arranger, who volunteers to clean up and prepare dead bodies in the context of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The immense respect and love with which he arranges the dead bodies in overwhelming. Cinematically just above average, this is a human drama.

Iceland’s Of Horses and Men was surrealistic! The film is about how men (and sometimes women, too) become horses while horses become humane! The film is replete with magical, stunning images. Some of them are simply surrealistic images. The only issue is does the director do it once too often!?

One of those rare films to watch – from Chile: Illiterate is about an illiterate woman who is to herself without any literacy. But enter a young teacher, who wants her to learn reading and writing. Now the only incentive she has is a letter written by her late father; to read it! In the meantime, there is a bond developing between the two women. How do they deal with it? A good character study.

When I almost decided not to watch Iranian films this BIFFes, some good thoughts prevailed; Ms Parinitha and Sumaiya only cemented that desire. One more try! With Others from Iran was a different film compared to the others in this BIFFes. A moving drama about a barren couple, who want to have a child of their own, and as a final resort, through surrogacy. The film is overwhelmingly symbolic and poetic. While characters are dissected and ground, not too many words are required.

The closing film, of course, was Test by the Russian Aleksandr Kott. Not a single word is spoken. Only moving images. Pure cinema! One better than Lumiere and Melies and all those Russian and Eastern European directors! It is a blizzard of pure, creative, speaking images without words! The beautiful she fills the screen and life. Her father. Her serious love and her knotty lover. All speak only through gazes and looks and smiles; no words! As every image flows spontaneously, freely, creatively, and lovingly freeing the audiences from the hegemony of the enslaving words, we witness the first nuclear bomb blast test! And with that everything is done; everything is gone; everything is no more! And we return speechless! Without a doubt, the best film of the seventh BIFFes.

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