Wednesday, April 05, 2006

High Museum of Art: Film Festival of India 2006

[the short verdict: <censored>]

The schedule {link destined to expire as soon as the next theme comes up} for the 2006 edition of the FFI @ the High (recent reference) is up. And it's a mixed bag. No chance of catching Vishal's The Blue Umbrella. No Anurag Kashyap here (where you should be if you want to catch Paanch). And they continue to pick selections that might easily be acquired on DVD, or on cheap VHS versions on heavily reused tapes at a local Indian store. There's nothing as bad as Baghban, but we have strong contenders (aka clear misses). I'm speaking as a person wont to watch most of the Bollywood releases of the year, and my POV might differ sharply from that of the average American, IBCD or ABCD who nurtures a general curiosity or nostalgia (respectively) about "Bollywood" (a term incorrectly applied to the entire unfortunate Indian film industry). The candidates this year (all screenings begin at 2000 at the Rich Theatre) are:

* Water: I haven't seen either Fire of Bollywood Hollywood and I wasn't really blown away by 1947: Earth, but this could be one of the few opportunities I'll get to catch Deepa Mehta's long-in-the-making-and-almost-unmade final edition in her element trilogy (hopefully she nurses no aspirations to emulate Douglas Adams). Tuesday (What? Don't you want people to show up?), April 25, 2006.

* Paheli: With this movie we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by nurturing the clichéd view of "Bollywood" that the mainstream West has nurtured for years. Hero seems, at some levels, a similar kind of Oscar-friendly flick, but I found more poetry in its visuals than in Palekar's boring Rajasthan romp. {movie notes, rant about its selection as India's Oscar entry}. Friday, May 05, 2006.

* Memories in the Mist: Better known as Kalpurush, this film has Mithun Chakraborty exercising his rarely seen acting chops and also made more news than it deserved for Sameera Reddy's "art" plunge as a Bengali wife. I hope this is as rewarding an experience as Bariwali (the last Bengali film I saw at an FFI edition @ the High) was. Saturday, May 06, 2006.

* Turn Left at the End of the World: I don't know anything about this film that's been making the rounds at Jewish Film Festivals, but the inclusion here draws attention to the Indian angle. This might well be the most rewarding filmgoing experience of the series, simply because I'll be going in cold not knowing what to expect. Friday, May 12, 2006.

* Amu: Another movie that I've heard and read enough about, but have lost all hope of catching at the local Indian store. A welcome addition. Isn't this what Film Festivals are for anyway? -- to give us an opportunity to catch movies that are hard to find through the usual channels of distribution (multiplex releases, DVD rentals and such). Saturday, May 13, 2006.

* John and Jane: Of course I want to see a documentary about the call-centre industry that conferred splendour on that specious TLA known as BPO. As long as this doesn't disintegrate into a tank of clichés (and thus apply for membership to the Bollywood club of honour), we'll be fine. Friday, May 19, 2006.

* Raincoat: Are you kidding me? This is a 2004 release –- both audiences and Rituparno Ghosh have moved on since then. This flawed adaptation of an O Henry tale (also Ghosh's first directorial venture in Hindi) doesn't measure up to his quieter less sheen-drenched works like Bariwali and makes for a bad coda. The soundtrack by Debajyoti Mishra was more rewarding. Saturday, May 20, 2006.

I wonder if more films are going to added to the list later.

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