Kolkata Film Festival: Outstanding films in world cinema

Kolkata, December 5, 2010 (Calcutta Tube/IBNS) Open Window of Contemporary World Cinema. This is the name given to the biggest audience-puller at the 16th KFF this year.

Around 40 films were screened in this section coming from across the world from popular countries like UK and USA and from countries comparatively inaccessible to us in terms of their cinema except through the festival circuit.

These films open a new window to the world because through them, we get to know how distant or close we are in terms of lifestyle, culture and ethnology.

The introduction of DVD projections raised some doubt in the minds of a discerning audience but they were undercut anyway because of the bad projection in Nandan II, the inconvenient seatiing arrangements in Nandan II and Sisir Mancha and the very limited seating capacity in Nandan III.

Whisper with the wind
Whisper with the wind

Among the films this writer watched, the outstanding ones were Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littin’s Dawson, Island 10 (2009), Shahram Alidi’s brilliant Whisper in the Wind (2009)  from Iraq, Jaffa (2009), a co-production of Israel, France and Germany directed by Keren Yedaya, Kazhakhstan’s The Daughter-In-Law (2009) directed by Yermek Tursunov and Between Two Worlds (2009) from Sri Lanka’s Vimukthi Jayasundara which is a Sri Lanka-France co-production.

Littin’s Dawson, Island 10, offers an unique perspective of a concentration camp where not ordinary people, but ministers and authorities of Alllende’s government are kept imprisoned in the most humiliating and oppressive circumstances.

The film moves back and forth in time and memory with the flashbacks cinematographed in Black-and-White granular film and the present in colour, is one of the most memorable celluloid documents, albeit in ficitonalised form, of the power of the human spirit to sustain dignity in the most difficult circumstances.

Whisper with the Wind is a beautiful journey film where Mam Baddar who travels as a messenger among mountainous villages of Iraqi-Kurdistan recording and delivering people’s messages. He comes back from time to time to his wife who does not speak one word and only sheds silent tears grieving the death of their two sons to the Iraqi massacre of Kurds.

The slaying and killings that happen as he travels, is not shown even once and comes across only through strong suggestive sequences making a strong impact on the viewer.

Jaffa is a beautiful but unusual love story between an Israeli girl who works in her father’s garage and an employee in the garage who is an Arab during the time when the relations between the Israelis and Arabs were extremely tenuous as they still are. The accidental killing of the girl Mali’s brother Meir at the hands of Taufik,her boyfriend almost destroys the girl’s life.

The Daughter-in-Law is spellbinding in its speechless storytelling filled with the sounds of the remote, ice-covered lands of mountainous Kazakhstan where life is an everyday struggle for survival and yet, emotions like love, hate, revenge, power, dominance and surrender sustain.

The interaction between human and beast comes across lucidly within the storytelling that remains confined among few charcters, fewer incidents and focusses on rites and rituals of a community we do not anything about.

Between Two Worlds is  a strange narrative that blends the surreal with the real, the real with the illusionary, a contemporary story with folk legends and myths totally revolving around a single man whose name is never known against the backdrop of a terror and strife-stricken village in Sri Lanka. It is also about how the past is repeated in the future according to myth.

By Shoma A. Chatterji

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