Monday, January 17, 2011

Pune International Film Festival

Is it me, or the quality of the films selected in this year’s Pune International Film Festival was really, I don’t know, not up to expectations? Probably both. Personally, Piff is the one event in the city I really look forward to, as it gives me a chance to see films on the big screen, films that I may have seen on a computer screen, and films that would never be released in India. For example, some years back, I saw Seven Samurai at Piff. It was a magnificent experience. This year, I got to see Mike Leigh’s Another Year. It’s the only Leigh film I have seen in the big screen; he’s is one of my favourite filmmakers. I also saw Kiarostami’s Copie Conforme (Certified Copy), though I had seen the film before, on computer screen. I will have to see a film where Juliet Binoche works and wins an award (She had received the best actress award at the Cannes last year).

Talking about Cannes, there were just three Cannes films at the festival, the two mentioned above and Iñárritu’s Biutiful. There were a few other films that I had heard of and wanted to see: Everyone Else, R, Of Love and Other Demons (a Costa Rican film which was a disappointment, as any film based on the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be.).

Most of the films however were either very young, or very old. This is the thing about Piff. Despite what the organisers may say, it is still a tier-two event. Films that have won international accolades won’t bother to come here (It therefore was a surprise that Biutiful was in the competition category.). Instead what we get are the newer films, the wannabes. Some of them are actually good (I remember seeing the Kazakh film Tulpan two year ago before it went on to win awards and accolades in the West). But it’s a tricky situation to choose pearls in the filth. I remember sitting through some really bad films. (My friend would suggest that we get up and leave; I refuse. My argument: Filmmaking is the most expensive of all art forms. When a person has spend so much money and time and energy, as an audience, it is our duty to give him a chance to explain himself. We cannot see just a few shots and decide that the film is no good. I stick to this argument. However, there are times I have to confess, I have sat through movies, which are actually pretty bad. But then, it’s a feature of all film festivals.)

This year, the country focus was Japan, and you won’t believe there was no Kurosawa. This I can agree, he’s after all not really country specific, but no Yahujiro Ozu, no Hayao Miyazaki? Among animation films, no Akira (the anime I liked among the selection was 5 Centimetres Per Second.). Among the selections I would recommend Kurutta Kajitsu’s 1956 film Crazed Fruit, Kobayasi’s The Human Condition, all the three parts (I wish his Kwaidan was there too.). There is Takeshi Kitano’s Boiling Point, but it’s not Beat Takeshi’s best film; I would have preferred Hana-bi, or Zatoichi. There was another Zatoichi film there of course. Kitano reminds me, oh, there was no films by Nagisha Oshima (at least Marry Christmas Mr Lawrence) or the recent Japanese classics Okuribito, (Departures), Still Walking, Tokyo Sonata. This reminds me of the anthology film Tokyo. Why cannot we get that film?

The retrospective this year was of Michael Cacoyannis. There were the classics, Iphigenia (1977) and Electra (1962). And the film version of The cherry Orchard (1999). I was really exited about this film. This is the text I read in my MA at the University of Pune, and we had a time of our life. Thanks to our teacher Professor Prashant Kumar Sinha. He made us play the role of the characters. I was Lopahin. In short, the film was a disappointment. It was too staggy. I would have liked to see Zorba the Greek, for instant, despite the fact that I have seen the film for thousands of times. Anthony Quin, in this film, and in La Strada...

Overall, there was not a single film this year that I was dying to see.

Is this because, I have other sources to see foreign films, which I did not have earlier? I don’t know.

But my friends, other film freaks, say, this year, the Pune International Film Festival was not up to the mark. Huh!!!

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