Category Archives: Festivals

Best of Cinema from around the festivals

A Fantastic Woman – Best Of 19th Mumbai Film Festival 2017!

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

A Fantastic Woman Review: Love is an empty word without respect but the real question is how much disrespect can one endure for the sake of his/her love?

My Ratings: 4/5

A Fantastic Woman originally titled as Una Mujer Fantástica is a film directed by Sebastián Lelioone of the most prominent figures of the post-dictatorship Chilean cinema. And his latest is this years’s official submission from Chile at the 90th Annual Academy Awards for the Foreign Language Film Award!

The idea of a man who chooses to become a woman, to live and die as a woman and wishes to be loved and treated like one is something that often people cannot accept without a certain hint of prejudice. And this is the touching story of a trans-woman named Marina, a young night club singer who aspires in this brutal society to live her life with as much dignity as any other human being.

She is in relationship with an older man named Orlando (Francisco Reyes). They are happy and in love but again that doesn’t guarantee that their romantic liaison will be wholeheartedly accepted and/or respected by others, especially by Orlando’s direct family (his ex-wife and a prick of a son).

And thus after the sudden demise of Orlando, Marina has to go through a series of humiliating and degrading events that made her A Fantastic Womanfight for her self respect, her pride and also for the rights for her lost love.

Daniela Vega who is a trans-woman in real life played the central character in the film with surprising efficiency. Most of her inner strength is expressed through her eyes – a brave soul with immense determination and yet so emotionally vulnerable, ready to face all the odds for the one who she loved so dearly!

And very intelligent storytelling by director Sebastián Lelio as he keeps the film very real, not once opting for any overdramatic cliches and providing just enough information to keep the viewers hooked through the otherwise pretty straightforward linear script.

Certainly the best transgender drama of recent times; this is the story of a woman who doesn’t allow anybody to dictate terms in her life, a woman of integrity, bold yet compassionate, sensual yet devoted – yes, she is indeed a fantastic woman!

Loving Vincent – Best Of 19th Mumbai Film Festival 2017!

Loving Vincent (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

Loving Vincent Review: Only on a few rare occasions when the visuals of a film enthrall you to such an extent that you gaily forgive the banality of the storyline! 

My Ratings: 4/5

Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature using oils on canvas!

A team of total 125 classically trained professional artists created 65,000 frames that finally resulted into 853 different oil paintings, each of them hand-painted using Van Gogh’s iconic style and technique!

Loving-Vincent-reviewAnd the result is irresistibly disarming; watching your favorite Van Gogh masterpieces coming to life in front of your very eyes is more like a dream (that you didn’t know you always had in your subconscious) coming true!

The plot concerns with an unopened letter from Vincent Van Gogh (the artist’s final letter) for his brother Theo, that needs to be delivered by a not so keen young man named Armand Roulin. Armand finds his traveling to Auvers-sure-Oise for the sake of this one-year-old-letter utterly pointless since he soon comes to know that both Vincent and Theo are dead!

But then once arriving at the village where Van Gogh used to reside till his last day, knowing the place and the people, Armand becomes fascinated by the life and death of the troubled Dutch painter! Did he really shot himself as most of them are convinced or was he murdered?

Overall decent acting performances by Douglas Booth, Eleanor TomlinsonSaoirse RonanJerome FlynnHelen McCroryChris O’Dowd and Robert Gulaczyk (who played Van Gogh) but then honestly neither the actors nor the storyline of Loving Vincent will keep you engrossed till the end. What does is the remarkable dedication of directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman and their team who over a period of 10 years have managed to breath life into some of the most popular paintings by the acclaimed impressionist of the 19th century!   

Well complemented by Clint Mansell‘s soulful music, 120 of Vincent Van Gogh’s finest works have been integrated into this amazing film!

Loving-Vincent-reviewFirstly the actors performed the whole movie in-front of the green-screen, their action turned into black outlines which was then projected into the artist’s painting-boards where they painted the full scenes using Van Gogh’s paintings as references. These paintings then photographed and put in-sequence, and then edited to create the final magic!

Probably the slowest form of film-making but I must say it certainly is the most satisfying visual experience ever!

If you are a fan of Cinema, a fan of Art, a fan of Van Gogh, or a combination of any of these three – you better go watch Loving Vincent!

Similar Interest: Mr.Turner (2014) Review

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

The Florida Project – Best Of 19th Mumbai Film Festival 2017!

The Florida Project (2017)

written by Souranath Banerjee

The Florida Project Review: You know a film is unique when it makes you sit up and look at your surroundings and rediscover the people around you!

My Ratings: 4.4/5

To depict realism through the art of Cinema and that too portraying the ordinary lives of the common people without a hint of any dull or preachy moments is always a tough job; only a few rare movies have achieved this special feat with such perfection as The Florida Project!

A series of low-priced hotels lined up just on the outskirts of the prime attraction of Florida – the Disney World. And the movie concentrates on the people living in these hotels, no not the tourists looking for cheap accommodations but the working class who have managed to turn these inexpensive rooms into their permanent home!

The-Florida-ProjectHome for those families who are on the edge of the social ladder desperate to make their ends meet, keep their jobs, pay their rents and have fun once in a while like everyone else!

Set over the duration of one summer, acclaimed director Sean Baker (of Tangerine fame) manages to knit a beautiful story around a group of children who stay in one of such hotels called the ‘The Magic Castle motel’. These kids are hilariously wacky, mischievous and street-smart, so full of life and yet very much aware of its harsh realities.

Among these kids the film concentrates on one particular young girl Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) and narrates such an engaging humane tale of compassion, friendship, desperation and most importantly the desire to survive The-Florida-Projectthrough all odds!

And then there is the hotel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) who though trying his best to be strict and professional finds it difficult to effectively detach himself from his tenants and their complicated life stories.

Colorful tones through out the movie, well captured by cinematographer Alexis Zabe.

Absolutely outstanding acting displays, especially by the kids Brooklynn PrinceValeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera – personally I don’t remember when the last time I have seen such natural performances by children!

And then fixing on debutant Bria Vinaite for the mother’s role is probably the best casting choice of this decade, she is incredible! Even Mela Murder The-Florida-Project(her debut film) and Karren Karagulian (a long time collaborator with Sean Baker films) played their parts to perfection.

But the best part of The Florida Project is that the film neither tries to victimize nor romanticize the characters or their situations. It’s too tempting for such movies to take the sympathetic route or become unnecessarily idealistic, but here lies the brilliance of Sean Baker – he maintained a perfect balance and portrayed the reality in its purest form possible!

The Florida Project is charming as well as heartbreaking, a fun-film and yet a highly emotional experience. Overall an absolute gem, and a must watch!    

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

BEST INDIAN FILMS TO WATCH AT MAMI 2017 (10+1LIST)

Best Indian Films to watch at MAMI 2017

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best Indian Films to watch at MAMI 2017.

As the Mumbaikars bid adieu to the colorful Navaratri and Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and await for the dazzling Diwali fiesta to begin, there is another very important Festival that the film-lovers of Mumbai couldn’t afford to miss!

A unique festival of Cinema that promises to entertain us for seven days in a row, from 12 to 18 October!

Yes, the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is here, and it’s raining films from all across the globe! To be more specific there are in total 220 films from 49 countries and in 51 languages!

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Along with a number of prestigious movies under the World Cinema and the International Competition category, MAMI also offers a great selection of Indian Cinema under the sections India Gold and India Story. Other categories are the Half Ticket (for children), Spotlight, Restored classics, After Dark (focused on the horror/fantasy genre) and many others.

Konkona Sen Sharma being one of the Jury member at MAMI this year.

Be specific of which films you pick and I hope this list helps you to choose among some of the Best Indian Films to watch at MAMI 2017. Make sure you don’t miss any of these!

10. Mukkabaaz (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zg1CMYVhR9o

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The return of director Anurag Kashyap with his 13th feature which is also the opening film of the festival!

As the title suggests the film is based on the story of a lower-caste boxer from Uttar Pradesh (Vineet Kumar Singh); his career and his love-life, focusing on both his professional and personal struggles.

Already had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, don’t you miss the Asia Premiere of this highly awaited movie!

9. Ajji (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9OZI1SQFJc

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017This film deals with the issue of child-rape and its aftermath; the repercussions of such a heinous crime on the society and also what the child and her family goes through.

Directed by Devashish Makhija, his second feature is a dark and gritty film; bold, brutal and yet with a hint of retribution.

Already screened at the Busan International Film Festival, undoubtedly one of the most interesting Indian films to look for!

8. In the Shadows (2017)

Film trailer: Not available yet.

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Already selected at the Chicago International Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival, and finally ready for the Indian audience!

Directed by Dipesh Jain, the story of a man lost in the maze of the numerous lanes of an old city (Old Delhi), and then his mind plays tricks on him! Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi and Shahana Goswami – with all these brilliant actors put together this one is definitely a film to look forward!

7. Pushkar Puran (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn9xigYlIoo

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Director Kamal Swaroop‘s cult classic Om Dar-B-Dar was a film far ahead of its time!

And after three decades the filmmaker comes back to his hometown (Rajasthan) to film this unique documentary on Pushkar!

The brilliant visuals blended with certain innovative soundtracks and ambiences – this one will be a memorable experience for sure!

6. Kaccha Limbu (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjgTnBIkg0o

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017An emotional movie that tells the story of a family, their joy and sadness. Most of film being shot in black and white, very much set with the overall mood of the film.

Directed by Prasad Oak, and starring Ravi Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni guarantees superb performances.

In the Marathi Talkies section this film is definitely worth your time.

5. The Hungry (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfg8gGR-3oA

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017An adaptation of the Shakespearian tragedy Titus Andronicus.

Set in the contemporary New Delhi, the backdrop being an extravagant surroundings of an Indian wedding, this film is a brutal tale of patriarch and corruption.

Directed by Bornila Chatterjee, and starring Naseeruddin Shah, Tisca Chopra, Antonio AakeelSayani Gupta and Neeraj Kabi among others. 

4. Sexy Durga (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07a0pUkktBc

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A young couple – Durga, a north Indian and Kabeer, a Keralite are running away to catch a train at the middle of the night. But how safe is it to travel in the dark!

Starring Rajshri Deshpande, Bilas Nair, Arun Sol, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan this is one movie that has managed to create a lot of curiosity and also some controversy regarding the name of the film.

3. Village Rockstars (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTov2nVgXaU

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Based on a 10-year-old young village girl, who has grown up in deprivation, as she learns to fend for herself in the hostile surroundings while nurturing her dream to own a guitar and eventually forming a band with some local boys – the official ‘Village Rockstars!’.

Shot, directed and produced by Rima Das, the film had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival!

2. Zoo (2017)

Film trailer: Not available yet

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The film depicts lifestyles in and around the ghetto co-existing with the people residing in the upmarket, high-rise buildings of Mumbai.

Directed by Shlok Sharma, starring Shweta Tripathi and Shashank Arora this will be an interesting film to watch out for.

  1. The Song of Scorpions (2017)

Film trailer: Not available yet

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Though featured in the ‘Spot Light’ section, but this film is set in the backdrop of the vast deserts of Rajasthan is a brilliant tale from the Indian director Anup Singh.

Starring Irrfan Khan, Tillotama ShomeWaheeda RehmanShashank Arora and the Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani this is a unique story of love, retribution and the power of song. A must watch!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Ask the Sexpert (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yRR1_VU1cQ

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Mahinder Watsa, a 92-year-old gynecologist and obstetrician, and also the daily adviser on matters related to sexual behavior in the Mumbai Mirror tabloid for the last 40 years!

Directed by Vaishali Sinha, this interesting documentary is about how the Mumbai’s oldest and best-known sexologist shoots to popularity when the Indian schools in many states puts a ban on comprehensive sex-education!

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Prateek VatsReturning to the First Beat by Surabhi Sharma and Ralang Road by Karma Takapa.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILMS TO WATCH AT MAMI 2017 (10+1LIST)

Best International Films to watch at MAMI 2017

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best International Films to watch at MAMI 2017.

As the Mumbaikars bid adieu to the colorful Navaratri and Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and await for the dazzling Diwali fiesta to begin, there is another very important Festival that the film-lovers of Mumbai simply can’t afford to miss!

A unique festival of Cinema that promises to entertain us for seven days in a row, from 12 to 18 October!

Yes, the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is here, and it’s raining films from all across the globe! To be more specific there are in total 220 films from 49 countries and in 51 languages!

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Along with a number of prestigious International movies under the World Cinema and the International Competition category, MAMI also offers a great selection of Indian Cinema under the sections India Gold and India Story. Other categories are the Half Ticket (for children), After Dark (focused on the horror/fantasy genre), Spotlight, Restored classics and many others.

And then of course if you want a picture with Monica Bellucci, most welcome!

Too many good movies and not so many days, so be specific of which films you pick and I hope this list helps you to choose among some of the Best International Films to watch at MAMI 2017. 

Make sure you don’t miss any of these!

10. On Body and Soul (2017)

Teströl és lélekröl (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfGeMbSEx9k

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The setting being a slaughter house, this is an exceptional love story between two ordinary people wrapped in strange identical dreams.

Brilliant performances and a unique script, directed by Ildikó Enyedi, the Hungarian film has already won the prestigious FIPRESCI Prize and the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival!

9. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9AYPxH5NTM

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017‘Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.’

It is about an affair between two men, a young visiting student and the son of the American professor.

Premiered at Sundance Film Festival, the critics already raving about this one, directed by Luca Guadagnino, the film promises a heartfelt yet heartbreaking story of two people in love on a hot summer somewhere in a small town of Italy!

8. The Florida Project (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwQ-NH1rRT4

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Set up just in the outskirts of Disney World this is the story of a mischievous 6-year old (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends, her mother, her neighborhood – basically the world around her!

Directed by Sean Baker (of Tangerine fame), and also featuring Willem Dafoe this film is attracting a lot of attention (mostly praises) from the critics as well as from the general audience.

7. On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)

Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7CP5ipqqwU

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017‘Where’s love? It’s not even visible. You need to see it in order to search for it.’

This South Korean cinema is about an actress who roams around a seaside town contemplating on her realtionship with a married man.

Directed by Sang-soo Hon, the protagonist Min-hee Kim already won the Silver Berlin Bear as the best actress for this year.

6. The Third Murder (2017)

Sandome no satsujin (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plr3V4TYBQE

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A man with a criminal record gets accused and arrested again and this time it seems to be an open and shut case. But then a prominent lawyer turns around the facts and this will make all the difference between life and death!

Directed by aclaimed Hirokazu Koreeda, this Japanese film with two brilliant actors Masaharu Fukuyama and Kôji Yakusho looks promising court-room drama!

5. The Other Side of Hope (2017)

Toivon tuolla puolen (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85cyiMBvPXQ

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A Finnish man who opens his own restaurant and a Syrian guy who comes to Finland in order to start a new life. The stories of these two men finally meet up and become one!

Realistic et with a comic touch, acclaimed filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki won the Silver Berlin Bear at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in the Best director category!

4. A Gentle Creature (2017)

Krotkaya (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sun3D8VqkGY

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Nominated for Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this Russian film is the story of a woman who investigates a return of a parcel that she sent to her husband who is serving prison time in an isolated town in Siberia.

Directed by Sergei Loznitsa, this one is an perfect example of superlative acting and brilliant story-telling, a slow yet highly cinematic experience.

3. 24 Frames (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBO0rqY4uQY

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A collection of 24 short four-and-a-half minutes films inspired by still images, including paintings and photographs!

An experimental project directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami over the last three years of his life. I am sure this will be a film with great aesthetics, simple yet artistic like all the earlier films from the director.

2. Loveless (2017)

Nelyubov (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLegoO4NdD8

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The film that won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the ARRI/OSRAM Award at the Munich Film Festival and was nominated ‘best film’ at the London Film Festival this year!

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, this one is about a couple who must team up to find their missing son although they are going through a divorce.

Official submission of Russia for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category of the 90th Academy Awards in 2018.

  1. The Square (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKDPrpJEGBY

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017“The Square” is the name of a unique contemporary show that has gained huge popularity

Swedish director Ruben Östlund (of Force Majeure fame) has made a brilliant satirical drama, absurd and surreal but very entertaining!

Along with many other wins in numerous film festivals, the film swept away the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Mother! (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpICoc65uh0

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The peaceful life of a couple is disturbed by some uninvited guests.

Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer all together in a psychological horror thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky – this only should be reason enough to watch this film!

Though incredibly mixed reactions from the audiences, I guess it will be one of those films which you will passionately love or hate!

A few other films that are very much worth checking out are 

November directed by Rainer SarnetCity of Ghosts directed by Matthew HeinemanBeach Rats directed by Eliza HittmanIt Comes at Night directed by Trey Edward Shults.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival – 147 films from across 45 countries!

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

written by Souranath Banerjee

Founded in 2010, and now voted as one of the Top 5 LGBT Film Festival in the world, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is South Asia’s biggest queer film festival and the only LGBT film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theater.

KASHISH MIQFF 2017 is held over 5 days at two venues, at Liberty Cinema and Alliance Francaise in South Mumbai. Held between May KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival24-May 28, 2017, it is the first Indian LGBT festival to be held with approval by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India.

Delegate Registrations are open on Book My Show https://in.bookmyshow.com/festival/mumbai-international-queer-film-festival

THEME of KASHISH 2017 : ‘Diverse, One’ 

The theme of KASHISH 2017 explores the diversity of the LGBTQ communities. The diverse shades of the rainbow remind us that as people we are all different and we are all unique. In the fight for an equal society, basic human rights and against laws that criminalize and discriminate, it is our shared values that bring us together. We are strongest when we come together, when we embrace one another’s uniqueness and celebrate our differences. We are Diverse, We are One.

KASHISH 2017 will have South Asia’s largest prize money for LGBTQ films – 147 films from 45 countries competing for total cash award of Rs.2.20 lakhs.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film FestivalThe 8th edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival this year will feature the largest prize money for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer films in South Asia. Around 43 of the 147 films that will be screened at the festival will compete in the eight competition categories for a total cash award of Rs 2.20 lakhs. The prize money will be sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, Whistling Woods International, Shri K.F. Patil Charitable Trust, Wadia Movietone and Lotus Visual.

“It gives us immense pleasure to announce an increased bouquet of cash awards at KASHISH 2017,” said Sridhar Rangayan, Festival Director. “We have been really trying hard to up the value we bring to the independent filmmakers who put in so much of effort to make LGBTQ films across the world. We are truly delighted by the support we have received from individuals and organizations to nurture talent. KASHISH is happy to spread rainbow sunshine among the film making community,” said Rangayan.

The highest award at KASHISH, Best Narrative Feature (Rs. 30,000) as well as well as those for Best Indian Short Film (Rs 20,000) and KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film FestivalActor in a Leading Role (Rs 15,000) are sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares.

“I am heartened to see KASHISH growing year by year, providing a fantastic platform for independent queer cinema, bringing together films and offering a bridge to many cultures around the world. Actor Prepares is committed to nurturing talent and we are delighted to continue our support, for the fourth year, to three of the awards at the festival. I wish the festival even greater success,” said acclaimed actor Anupam Kher.

A newly introduced award this year is for the Best Student Short film with a cash award of Rs 15,000 sponsored by film school Whistling Woods International. LGBTQ short films made by students of film and media schools will compete for this award.

“Whistling Woods International is proud to continue its association with KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, a wonderful initiative that encourages aspiring filmmakers to come forward and spread awareness about the LGBT community, sensitively and artistically. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film FestivalLove is universal and it is fantastic to have a festival that celebrates love from the point of view of the individuals belonging to the LGBT community. We need more platforms like this, which not only promotes cinema but also unearths some truly unique talents every year. This year, we have taken our association further by sponsoring the Best Student Film Award. It adds another layer to our objective of partnering with KASHISH, which is to encourage young students to express themselves through the power of cinema. Like every year, we look forward to a positive response, and would like to convey our best wishes to the students,” said Meghna Ghai Puri, President, Whistling Woods International

Two competition categories this year will have cash awards – K.F.Patil Unity in Diversity Award for Best Documentary Feature (Rs.15,000) and K.F.Patil Unity in Diversity Award for Best Documentary Short – Rs.10,000. The cash awards are  sponsored by K.F.Patil Charitable Trust.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival“Discrimination is a human man-made phenomenon and it is against the very principle of nature which celebrates diversity. Unfortunately society does not and every voice that calls for freedom and inclusivity is important. KASHISH is one such voice standing for freedom and acceptance for a group of people all over the world who have been marginalised simply because of their sexual orientation. The K.F. Patil Charitable Trust which stands for Unity in Diversity is proud to associate with KASHISH which through the medium of a film festival informs, educates and shares with people the agonies and ecstasies of these people. The documentary awards instituted by the Trust are a token of our appreciation for Kashish and for the filmmakers to carry the message forward to thousands of people,” said National award winning filmmaker Arunaraje Patil, who is the Chairperson of Shri K.F. Patil Charitable Trust.

The Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker was KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalinstituted in memory of Riyad Wadia, who made the country’s first gay film – BomGay. The cash award of Rs 15,000 is sponsored by Wadia Movietone.  “Encouraging new and young filmmakers was something my late brother Riyad Wadia always used to do, and this award in his name at the KASHISH  symbolizes some of the help and support he provided so many during his all too brief life.  Wadia Movietone remains proud to be associated with Kashish and we look forward to many years together,” said Roy Wadia, who heads Wadia Movietone.

The QDrishti Film Grant returns for the second year to KASHISH. It is an artistic grant to support and promote independent filmmakers based in India making LGBTQ themed films. Short Narrative or Documentary Films made by India-based filmmakers compete for this honour that gives Rs 1 lakh grant to the chosen film maker to make their next LGBTQ themed film. The chosen filmmaker will be mentored by noted filmmaker Aruna Raje and actor and theatre person Shernaz Patel.

“With the rise in global intolerance and violence against minorities, it is paramount for sexual minorities to have a safe space to voice their views. We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with KASHISH in KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalannouncing this year’s QDrishti grant with a joint vision of providing a safe platform for film makers who challenge us to celebrate our differences,” said Lotus Visual that has sponsored the grant. 

The competition categories and the films competing are as follows:

Narrative Features: 4 films: Apricot Groves, Glory and Grace, Play The Devil, AWOL

Documentary Features: 4 films: Storm-Drenched Minds, In Love As In Live, Transitioning : Transgender Children, No Dress Code Required.

Documentary Short: 6 films: Single Men, Naked Wheels, Still Burning, A Doll’s Eyes, Across Gender, Lands of Lost Content

International Narrative Short: 17 films: Dive, Java, Transmission, You Deserve Everything, No Way to Paradise, A Meal With Dad, Ladybug, Home, Ariel, The Devil is in the Details, Stay, In The Mirror, Scar Tissue, Lily, Rink, Princess, Superheroes

Indian Narrative Short: 7 films: Aarsa, Wajood, Shehenaiiya, Maacher Jhol, Chudala, Devi, Sisak

Riyad Wadia Award: 8 films: The 6th Element, Shehenaiiya, Wajood, Maacher Jhol, Chudala, Devi, Sisak, Tremors

QDrishti Film Grant: 8 films: The 6th Element, Shehenaiiya, Wajood, Maacher Jhol, Chudala, Devi, Sisak, Naked Wheels

Student Short: 12 films: Lethe, The Tiger’s Fight, Flora, Still Devout, Stumbling Out, Heart Station, Tremors, Beautiful Figure, Alfa, Dawn, The Dam, The Other Side

Crowdfunding for KASHISH 2017

For the fifth year in a row, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will be raising funds through crowdfunding. The global campaign to raise funds was launched on India’s leading crowdfunding portal –

Wishberry:https://www.wishberry.in/campaign/kashish-2017-diverse-one/

The target for this year is to raise Rs 3 lakhs, which will partly fund the festival expenses including theatre and equipment rentals. To KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalfurther deepen its engagement and provide a platform for Indian filmmakers who make films on LGBT themes, KASHISH 2017 crowdfunding campaign will also use part of the funds raised for a scholarship for selected filmmakers from outside Mumbai to come to the film festival and interact with the audience, film making fraternity and showcase their films.

Content and Photo courtesy: KASHISH MIQFF Team.

Village Rockstars – a film by Rima Das all set for Cannes!

Village Rockstars – a film by Rima Das all set for Cannes!

written by Souranath Banerjee

Rima Das, a filmmaker from Assam based in Mumbai, whose debut film ‘Man with the Binoculars‘ had been screened and appreciated last year in numerous film festivals across the globe, including Tallinn Black NightsCannes (market screening) and Mumbai Film Village RockstarsFestival; and this year Rima is back with her second feature called Village Rockstars.

Village Rockstars – shot, directed and produced by Rima Das without any professional help as such; her cousin being her chief assistant and the young enthusiastic actors from the village playing their parts – being Rockstars!

“I was shooting Man with the Binoculars, which was my first feature film, and I discovered these children and villagers celebrating life [while] living in deprivation. It made me realize what I was missing in Mumbai even surrounded with all this technology,” said Das in an interview with Asia Times.

The film is centred around a 10-year-old young village girl, Dhunu, who has grown up in deprivation, as she learns to fend for herself in the hostile surroundings while nurturing her dream to own a guitar Village Rockstarsand eventually forming a band with some local boys, the official ‘Village Rockstars!’.

Dhunu, however, has to fight gender stereotypes on what a local girl should do amid poverty and other hostile conditions.

“She (Dhunu) considers herself as capable as boys in a patriarchal society. She was brought up by a non-conformist mother who gave her full freedom of expression,” Rima said.

Like Dhunu, girls in the village where Rima is from, face a lot of restrictions due to their gender specially post puberty.

Village Rockstars“The way they are living their lives make them rockstars. They are the real rockstars to me,” Rima said with enthusiasm.

Village Rockstars got shortlisted among the eight films selected in the Work-In-Progress Lab at the 15th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum, a great platform which aims at helping filmmakers secure post-production funding, sales agents and film festival support.

The festival’s collaboration with Festival de Cannes to present the “Hong Kong Goes to Cannes” programme assures Village Rockstars’s official selection for the 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes), Village Rockstarsa festival that celebrates its 70th birthday, from May 17 to 28 this year.

Currently being edited in Rome by French editor Jacques Comet, Village Rockstars is all set to enthral us with it’s brilliant storytelling and captivating visuals.

Congratulations Rima Das!

Similar Interest: In Conversation with Rima Das as her film ‘Man with the Binoculars’ premieres at the Tallinn Black Nights Festival today!

Content and Photo courtesy: Rima Das.

Elle (2016) – BEST OF 18TH JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016!

Elle review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

If a rape victim desires to return to the act itself, then the next time, does she still remain a victim?

My Ratings: 4/5

Quality erotic thrillers are hard to find but then Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven often comes to our rescue.

elle-reviewHis latest French thriller Elle was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and also has already won the Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and the lead Isabelle Huppert won for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama!  

The film starts with a disturbing rape scene that makes the audience uncomfortable enough but then the alarming normality maintained by the ‘victim’ as she continues to perform her daily routine becomes even more disturbing. Why doesn’t she complain about her violation? How can she be so inert about her abuse? Does she know the attacker or will she track him down?

Multiple relations and several interesting plot lines crisscross their paths, and one has to admire the Dutch director’s subtle use of comedy throughout the movie, but then again, the erotic undercurrent is what makes the film so special!

elle-reviewAnd of course Isabelle Huppert‘s brilliant performance!

Actually “Elle” means “She” and so the whole film is seen from the perspective of the central character Michèle and Isabelle Huppert simply owns the part. Her beautiful, sexy looks, her cold and courageous character, her raw animal desires and her level of supreme confidence – no doubt she is the spine of this film.

Though according to me the ending of the film doesn’t justify her character at all but then again a performance to cherish for sure.

Based on the novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, I think the best compliment for this film would be that it feels very much like a Michael Haneke film, a lighter version may be with a hint of comedy in it!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade – the very talented writer/director of Tu Hai Mera Sunday

In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade – the very talented writer/director of Tu Hai Mera Sunday.

interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Milind Dhaimade – an independent filmmaker who believes that everybody is born for some purpose in life and for him it is film making!

His film Tu Hai Mera Sunday is been considered as one of the most entertaining films at the recent Mumbai Film Festival and immensely appreciated as well.

In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade as he talks about his journey as a filmmaker!

Hi Milind, Welcome to Cinema Forensic.

Thank you so much.

Your film ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’ was screened in Mumbai Film Festival and got a very positive response. Feels good? 

Great actually!

I never thought of Tu Hai Mera Sunday as a festival-film at all. It’s a very ‘happy’ kind of film, if you know what I mean. It’s a Bombay-story and bits of it is from my life. So when we got selected for Film Bazar and for BFI London Film Festival, I was pretty shocked! I mean U R M SUNDAY TYPO (2)wow! looks like we have made something that also has an international appeal (smiles).

But for me the real joy is always home you know. You want to know what will people think in India, in Bombay. We did some screenings and we always got positive responses from the audience. And that’s why Mumbai Film Festival was fantastic for me, home ground – the ultimate test and it all went so well!

Superb! So tell me how did it all start, you have an advertising background right? 

Yes. See, though I come from a non-filmy background but from my childhood I was very much interested in theatre and films.

But I come from a tough family where people expect you to have real jobs. Then somebody told me about advertising where you can be creative and also have a job, like I can write and make my own stuff. And that’s how I started the journey of advertising and I enjoyed it very much; a great training process of instantly thinking on your feet, thinking of 10 different things at one time and all. But at the back of my mind this filmmaking thing was always there.

So when did you start planning to make a film? 

Actually there was no proper plan as such. It was not like ‘ok look, so after ten, twelve years I will make a film’.

While making ad films I met some very good filmmakers and had a great time working with them. Soon we (me and my wife) were way up in the corporate ladder, we could go higher as well but at some In Conversation with Milind Dhaimadepoint you realise that the higher you go the lesser is the creativity part you know. It’s more of people management and salaries and stuff like that. Then we realised that we are getting away from the things we liked to do, it’s all about sustaining in the corporate goals and all.

At that time in 2005, me and my wife had a chat and decided we should do what we always wanted to do. So we quit our jobs and started planning to make a film. For me it’s like from a very early age you know that you are born for a purpose and you kind of know that you are gonna do it somewhere down the line no matter when. So I was pretty sure about this. The only thing I didn’t know was how?

So by this time you have decided on a particular story?

I started developing a few stories, and then what happened, I had a friend in advertising, Vinay Kanchan and they have a group called Juhu Beach United. So these bunch of guys play at Juhu Beach every Sunday. They come from mixed background and they just love playing football. So it just struck me that what would happen if these In Conversation with Milind Dhaimadeguys couldn’t get a place to play on a Sunday – what would they do? That’s how the story started developing.

Finally in 2008 I started writing this, and I took my time. As I said there was no plan or deadline as such. So for one and half years down the line we kind of had the final version. And also over the years I have picked my team, it took time but it’s very important that you choose the right people with whom you want to work.

Then the other thing was shopping the script. Not that we went to too many studios but you also realise that there is a certain film culture here which is little weird, basically it’s not based on scripts but it’s based on casting and actors. But this film is about everyday guys – if you put some high profile stars in it – it simply won’t work. And we were very sure whom we wanted to cast and the casting directors Anmol (Anmol Ahuja) and Abhishek (Abhishek Banerjee) did a great job. Be it Barun SobtiShahana GoswamiPallavi Batra, Avinash Tiwary, Vishal Malhotra, Masnvi Gagroo, Rasika Dugal, Suhas Ahuja, Nakul bhalla, Jay upadhyay and Shiv Subhramaniyum – it was a perfect cast.

So finally we decided to fund it ourselves, put together whatever money we had and the best part is my wife agreed! Surprisingly! (laughs).

In Conversation with Milind DhaimadeAnd finally in 2015 we started putting it together, by then the script was locked and the casting was done, and the funds ready. Then I spent six months with my music director Amartha Rao, doing the songs and the music. Each song is based on some idea in the film so – we wanted the songs to be really special! And ya, so by May 2016 we were on floor, shooting it.

And so for how many days did the shoot went on?

It was a 38 days schedule – mostly Bombay and a few days in Goa – a week or so. It was amazing because 38 days was 38 days. Nothing went off track and everything was fantastic! My producer Varun Shah had planned it beautifully. Normally whoever comes out of a film shoot comes out with a regret, barring whoever has invested in it but here everybody was happy, everyone enjoyed. All of my crew are actually writing to me saying ‘now make the next film’. We had a great time!

That’s so cool! So after the shoot got over did it take much time in the post? 

Yes, we took our time in post as well. It took around six months, I think by 2015 December it was done. We also had some international buyers and distributers interested in our film, so some time went in getting an international cut as well. They wanted a shorter version.

So when is ‘Tu hai mere Sunday’ going to release in the theatres?

See the good thing about this film is it’s not totally a festival film nor entirely a commercial film. It can be very well enjoyed by the In Conversation with Milind Dhaimadeaudience, intelligent audience. So currently talking to people about the whole distribution and marketing plans – and I am realising a lot of stuff about ‘making-a-film’ Vs ‘selling-a-film’. And that making is actually very easy – like 25% of the whole process. The harder part is of course selling it. But then we have lot of positive responses, but we just have to choose the right kind of partnership. So, it will be releasing soon.

All the best for the release of your film Milind and now tell me something about you, like when did your get interested in filmmaking?

Thank you.

Well, as a kid, when I think back now – I always loved movies. I had a ritual of watching one film a week without my father knowing about it. I would flick money from his wallet and I would go alone and watch films (laughs). Yes, all my childhood I have seen movies alone!

But that time of course I wasn’t thinking of movies as a career or so, it was just my passion. And my favourite thing was to watch these In Conversation with Milind Dhaimademovies and then narrate them to my friends and that too I would put my own masala in those stories while narrating them. I think I loved entertaining people and also the attention!

With my friends I used to do plays in my locality when we were just six, seven years old. During the summer time we didn’t have much to do, so we would write our own crap and perform. Once I remember we saw The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and we made our own play based on that. It was rubbish but that’s how it all started (laughs).

I was supposed to study science and get a decent job, the typical middle-class Maharashtrian path all chalked out for me. But in college I soon realised I was not cut out for science and ended up joining commerce. My dad freaked out and finally decided I should go for CA. I also promised I would study hard. But then I got introduced to theatre and that changed my life.

There was this intercollegiate competition where me along with my friend put up a play and it won all the awards! And after that there was no looking back for me. We started writing, acting and directing our own plays and I thoroughly enjoyed this process. I liked directing more than acting and so I slowly shifted on this side of the camera.

So in college we were obsessed with theatre and films, and now when I look back it’s great, I realise this is what I always wanted to do – making films!

In Conversation with Alankrita Shrivastava – the very talented writer/director of Lipstick Under My Burkha!

In Conversation with Alankrita Shrivastava – the very talented writer/director of Lipstick Under My Burkha!

Interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Alankrita Shrivastava – a filmmaker drawn to telling women’s stories, inspired by different forms of art, who sometimes uses books and paintings to prepare actors!

alankrita-20Her second film, Lipstick Under My Burkha was selected and well appreciated at this year’s Mumbai Film Festival.

In Conversation with Alankrita Shrivastava as she talks about her journey as a filmmaker!

Hello Alankrita, welcome to Cinema Forensic! Lipstick Under My Burkha got such a positive response at MAMI this year – how do you feel about it?

Thank you. Yes, it is very exciting, very heartening to know that it’s been so well received.

It is a very gratifying feeling for a film maker when people are watching and enjoying their film; also it is very interesting to see the reaction of people, even from other cultures. My film is rooted in a specific Indian cultural context. So it’s exciting for me to see the universality of emotions and characters cutting across cultural barriers!

Yes indeed. Lipstick Under My Burkha – such a unique name and also a very different storyline, so how did you come up with this idea?

I don’t know, I didn’t think about it consciously. There was this thought that just emerged in my head – that I wanted to tell the story of four women who are kind of cloistered, want to do more lipstick - plabita - press release 3with their lives and how they go about doing it.

Even though I am brought up in a very liberal and educated background, I still don’t feel fully free and so wanted to explore that feeling. Sometimes I feel like something is holding me back. I thought that it would be interesting for me to explore that in a way where there are also external things holding you back, not just internal things. The whole idea was that how one can sort of break free even while being cloistered.

That’s very interesting, and when you wrote the script of the film how did you start with it – like you have written the script in one go or like …

No, this script is a very long story in itself, because I thought of the title and the essential concept more or less at one go. I wrote it in 2012 and took it the NFDC Screen Writer’s Lab. That was a very helpful experience. But that time I was also trying to write another film which finally didn’t happen.

So, then at the end of 2013 I decided to work on the script again.

And then I got my friend Suhani Kanwar,  to  help me with additional screenplay, and Gazal Dhaliwal to work on the dialogue. So the script developed over time.

Most good scripts come out like that only huh?

Ya? (smiles). I don’t think any writer intends to be like that but then sometimes it takes long. But I agree because I feel if you let a thought stay for a longer time it just matures in a way, it deepens.

So, after the script is final, then how do you plan the production, like how did you get in touch with the producers, and what about the casting process?

Casting Koko (Konkona Sen Sharma) and Ratna (Ratna Pathak) was relatively easy – I sent the script to them and they liked it.

Mr Jha had come on board as the producer earlier, since I had been working with Prakash Jha Productions for many years. They Lipstick - ratna - press release -2produced my first film as well.

But for the other two girls and for selecting the rest of the cast I will give full credit to my casting directors Shruti Mahajan and Parag Mehta. They worked really hard.  We tested a lot of people and then finalised Plabita (Plabita Borthakur) and Ahana (Aahana Kumra). So I honestly give credit to the casting directors and my assistants for digging out the many gems in my film. They did a fantastic job!

And so after the cast being decided, did the production start write away?

It took a while. We finished shooting in the first half of 2015. I was editing for a while. Then I took the cut to the Work-in-progress Lab at Film Bazar. The lab was very helpful, because we had editors from other parts of the world, and programmers and producers who were part of this panel. They watched the film a few times and gave us feedback and then an editor actually worked with us. My editor Lipstick - aahana - press release 4Charu Shree (Charu Shree Roy)  and I both gained a lot through that process and made some dramatic decisions about the overall edit of the film.

For me what is nice is that I have really grown with the project because it has almost been like film-school like thing. The screen writer’s lab, the edit lab… And even the actor workshops with Atul (Atul Mongia). He is just fantastic. I learned so much as a director working with Atul, about how to work with actors.

It’s really been a process you know and it’s still going on (laughs) – currently we are finalising the distribution deal for the film’s release and again that’s a challenge.

Wish you all the best Alankrita. Now tell me something about yourself – how did you become interested in films, like from the childhood – your journey as a film maker?

No, actually I went to this all-girls boarding school in Deharadun called Welham Girl’s School and there we had this activity class – where the senior girls would make audio-visual films which were alankrita-2screened at the annual day. It was like huge screen and thousands of people watching. I saw that when I was in a junior class and I just wanted to be one of the girls in that AV team. So I joined the Audio Visual class.  I guess that was the beginning for me. I felt the power of telling the story through this medium. Also I always used to read books since I was very young, then my father always told me stories – so this storytelling process was always in my mind. (smiles).

I did my BA honors in journalism from Lady Shriram College and did lots of media internships during that time.

And then I did my masters in Mass Communications from Jamia Milia Islamia. After that I was very clear that I wanted to do films. I started working with Mr.Prakash Jha as a trainee assistant, then one thing led to another. I assisted on Gangaajal and then I was chief assistant on Apaharan, I was associate director on Rajneeti and in between I was executive producer on Sudhir’s film Khoya Khoya Chand and also another film called Dil Dosti Etc. In-between I made my short film (Open Doors with Tisca Chopra), and after Raajneeti I directed my first feature Turning 30!!!

And finally some films that influenced you, made an impact on you as a filmmaker?

I’m not that influence by films in terms of my thought process but I Lipstick - konkona- press release 1am much more influenced by books, especially female feminist writers like Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Toni Morrison and most recently by Elena Ferrante.

I am not sure I love watching films as much as I love reading books. I love making films though!

Thats really interesting because most of the filmmakers say that films have been their major inspiration but for you it has been books!

Because you know, what I feel is that, honestly if you are expressing yourself in a certain medium, that doesn’t mean that all your influences have to come from that same medium. I think film is after all a coming together of different art forms!

So while directing Turning 30!!! the references I gave to my actors were paintings, and excerpts from novels which I felt represented their characters in the film!