Kolkata International Film Festival 2016: 20 Plus years But Zero Learning

- Sudipto Mullick   24-02-2017


Feted septuagenarian director, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who exhibited ‘Pinneyum’, his feature after 8-year gap, also his first digital indulgence, when mercilessly shunted from one room to other to settle for an interview, otherwise stoic, expressed pique, ”You’re unnecessarily wasting my time.”   

At least he was not feeling left-out like Nandan Saxena, who conducted a 3-day engaging and informative workshop on filmmaking, on culmination of which, remarked, ”There’s no single official to even offer a token vote of thanks, neither they introduced us properly and we’re left to lug our own equipments”  

Similar sentiment resided with promising Manipuri director Haobam Pawan Kumar, joint-winner for Best Film in NETPAC Award for Asian Competition for ‘Lady Of The Lake’ along with my pick, ‘Singing In Graveyards’ (Director - Bradley Liew; Malaysia, Philippines; 2016).  During press conference, he rued thrice, “All the films in my category had two screenings but mine – one of only two Indian films - was accorded only one – don’t know why? – but more people wanted to see it”

Congruous to this year’s theme ‘Cinema For All – All For Cinema’- daily passes for the shows were issued to the ‘commoners’ , basically jamming-up auditoriums with ‘window-shoppers’ leaving ‘Delegates’ who had paid 500 INR for viewing-privileges decidedly flummoxed.   

Then there was Yadav Mondal, CEO, Nandan & Ex-Officio Commissioner, I&CA Department, to a query from a fellow scribe whether the all-female jury of Women Directors’ Film competition being a mere co-incidence, responded, “It cannot be a co-incidence, we’ve been doing this for years, all is logically thought out, a woman is the best judge of other woman’s works, a man might fail to understand it!”

When will they ever learn…..

Best Film, carrying a 51 Lac INR purse at 22nd KIFF in the last mentioned international competition, which featured 15 films including one from India, was declared by powerful Belgian film maker-producer, Marion Hansel, chairperson of this jury, to be that of Iranian mid-wife turned film director Nahid Hassanzadeh for Another Time while 30-year-old Chinese filmmaker Yao Tingting bagged Best Director award with her directorial debut, Yesterday Once More.  Another feature debut, that of Israeli duo, Mili Ben Hayi and Tamar Shippony, Cheer Me Up, obtained Special Jury Award.

Nahid was felicitated for a “dignified film and a bold attempt in Iranian cinema”. In turn accepting the award, she spoke of her active consternation and involvement in issues and problems of her country while touching briefly on difficulties in completing her film. 

Speaking earlier Marion had said, “We understood each other really-really well, our languages were different but the common language was that of cinema; making decisions were not painful“.

Glory by Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov (Bulgaria, Greece, 2016) was judged the Best Film in Innovations in Moving Images International competition, Turkish Director Kivanc Sezer being named Best Director for My Father's Wings.

Manipur surfaced once again with Asok Vailou’s Tau-Tai (Seed)  vowing the jury in Best Short Film category with while Best Documentary went to "I Am Bonnie". Taui-Tai shows effects of Indian Army's counter Insurgency operation in Manipur as seen and felt through Vio, a 24 year-old militant’s younger sister when he comes home for a short vacation.  Bonnie, is the story of transman Bonnie Pal, an ace footballer, whose illiterate and confused parents raised him as a girl child. He reminisced his last on stage appearance in 1997 when his golden goal won Bengal the Women’s Football National Championship Final.

The total of 155 films comprising 65 countries in this year’s fest had China as Focus Country, Marathi as Regional Focus and featured Kenji Mizoguchi in Great Master section.

Overall there was drought of good films but some apart from the those mentioned like Cinema Novo by Erykh Rocha (apposite heir of father Glauber Rocha), 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami (Seifollah Samadian), Tree Of Tongues in Tripura (Joshy Joseph), Kiki, Love to Love (Paco Leon), Death in Sarajevo (Danis Tanovic), Lantouri (Reza Dormishian), The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz), Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu), At your doorstep (Eduardo Cortes), I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach), etc. stood out