JIO MAMI 2016 Diaries: Days 5 & 6

Continuing with our series on JIO MAMI 2016, here is an update of the films that the MAM team got to watch on days 5 & 6 of the festival.

To check out our updates for days 1 & 2 click here and for our updates on days 3 & 4 click here.

Now

It’s a normal-length song with video about anti-black brutality, made extremely effectively.
Watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E432cI5V3c

Space is the Place

space-is-the-placeA space traveller called Sun Ra dressed up like a pharaoh and how sidekick, who has a mirror for a face, come back to earth to save the black race and take it to a better place.
Space is the Place is the epic saga of the fight between Sun Ra and “The Overseer,” a gangster, for control of the soul of the black race.

It is a potent metaphor for the struggle to achieve black rights not by climbing up the status ladder set up by white society but by reaching collective self-actualisation. Not to mention, it’s an extremely entertaining ride of a movie that features, among other things, a pianist blowing up a nightclub by playing really hard.

Burqa Boxers

burqa-boxersA documentary about a Muslim Kolkatta orphan girls boxing club.
Mostly focuses on the coach and one of her star pupils; since both of them are positive stories, the movie is mostly very sweet to watch.

But it also shows us some other stories, and the… outcomes are just shown in a matter of fact way in the midst of all this sweetness that these other stories stay with us too.

Things to Come

things-to-comeAn utterly average meditation about the dangers of getting comfortable in life. It’s just… all the obvious things happen.
And, since the protagonist is a philosophy teacher, a lot of the drama is extremely sterile conversation about philosophy. Not wrong, so some fraction of a point for that, just sterile and full of stuff that an uninitiated audience is likely to understand and not stuff that philosophy teachers are likely to talk about. All that said, this a very comfortable watch, with a placid and calming pace; making it overall a positive experience.

The Red Turtle

the-red-turtle-poster-2Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a France-studio Ghibli collaboration. Placid, beautiful animation that has an unsettlingly small amount of movement; a weird, twisted and not entirely legible story; and feeeels. Definitely deserves a second watch, but I’m not sure which way my opinion will go once that happens.

Staying Vertical/Rester Vertical

staying-verticalAn engagingly boring film about a rootless nomad who has a kid. It’s not exactly a movie that holds together well or that I’d recommend strongly to anyone, but it has some uncannily beautiful nude shots, a birth filmed from between the legs, and a brilliant ending whose connection to the rest of the film is extremely unclear at best. This is why we go to film fests in the age of torrents.

On a hiking trip, a screenwriter has a chance encounter with the daughter of a shepherd that yields a baby. Sensing lack of participation in parenting duties by the father, the mother takes off leaving father and child in the lurch. So far so good. From this point onwards, writer-director Alain Guiraudie must have smoked pot and completed the screenplay. One bizarre twist after another will keep you scratching your head until the final abrupt ending. The camera isn’t shy too, staying right in between the legs when a child is being born! Yeah, you read that right. This and many more irregular choices of placing the camera will keep you alert. Kill your curiosity by watching it.

Album

The synopsis may sound interesting. A couple adopt a child and fake a pregnancy at the same time until official records catch up with their lie. But the film is slow, really slow. The camera remains stationary for most of the shots. The actions of the actors are measured. A few funny moments save this film from being a complete washout. Directed by Mehmet Can Mertoglu.

Hermia and Helena

hermia-and-helenaThis film is so casual and pointless, its maddening. There is so much dialogue, I felt like placing my hands on my ears.  An Aregentine student in America. She flits amongst friends, flits amongst boyfriends, corresponds with them, hangs stuff on the wall and generally bores your brains out. There are direct references to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Who cares? Directed by Matias Pineiro.

Oscuro Animal

oscuro-animalHalfway into the film, half of those who had walked in had walked out. Including me. The catelogue informs me that the film is about three women looking to escape the horrors of war in Colombia. You would be hard pressed to empathise with them. The film belongs to the category of a special kind of torture cinema where the director ensures the film is slow enough for the audience to tear their hair out. This film is dialogue free,
which means you will be staring for what will seem like hours at the screen, waiting for something worthwhile to engage you attention. Avoid. Directed by Felipe Guerrero.

Revelations

revelationsThis is a complex story told very simply. The underlying theme, as the title suggests, is that everyone has skeletons in the cupboard. When they tumble out it’s not with any sort of flourish, rather just mentioned when the time is opportune. The central characters are Tamilians in Kolkatta. A few scripting choices could have been avoided and the pace hastened. It’s still a very nice film. Directed by Vijay Jayapal.

When Two Worlds Collide

when-two-worlds-collideThe story this documentary tells has been told many times before. Yet, it must be repeated. It is a story that holds true for every country in some form or the other. Rapid ‘development’ is taking it’s toll on our natural resources and doing the indigenous people in. WTWC tells of the clash for the untapped riches of the Amazon in Peru. The government is clearly the villain here, not only trampling the protestors but also, shrewdly, turning the protests against them. With just the right combination of news footage, interviews and actual shots, directors Heidi Brandenburg Sierralta and Matthew Orzel have done a wonderful job of giving equal chance to both voices being heard. Wish the timeline was added at certain places to put things in perspective. Minor quibble, this is a good film
anyways.

The Greasy Strangler

the-greasy-stranglerAs a spoof of B grade horror films, it isn’t funny. As a horror film, there are Disney movies which are likely to evoke more dread. As a gory film, it does not even begin to test the waters. Directed by Jim Hosking, The Greasy Strangler is only a waste of your time. A father and a son who stays with him and serves him greasy food. Father doubles up as the eponymous serial killer. Both have eyes for the same girl.
Bad acting, bad jokes, bad everything.

Agraharathil Kazhuthai

agraharathil-kazhuthaiJohn Abraham’s classic Tamil film Agraharathil Kazhuthai also for various reasons has been unfortunately not seen by many people, the rise in its popularity of the years notwithstanding. Hence with the restored version of the film being shown here it was but natural for me to land up for the screening of the same. A professor decides to give shelter to a new born donkey after hearing of its mother being killed by a few miscreants. Unfortunately he is unable to take care of the donkey at his home in Chennai and hence he takes it to his village which happens to be dominated by the Brahmin community. But this seemingly innocent act goes on to trigger a series of strange incidents in the village. The film brilliantly depicts the fallacies of the caste system and the belief in age old superstitions.

Haanduk/The Hidden Corner

handukThis Assamese film is based in a small village which seems to have been caught in the cross fire of the struggle for power between the ULFA and the armed forces. Apparently based on a real story, the film talks of a youth who is alleged to be a missing ULFA activist. His mother and wife wait patiently to hear from him, only to be told that one day that he is no more. The film starts of impressively with a nearly 5 minute single shot of a lady cutting a bamboo tree. Alas that happens to be the best thing about the film, followed by the cinematography. The film otherwise is extremely slow and excruciatingly boring after a while.

Sand Storm/ Sufat Chol

sand-stormThis Israeli drama won the Grand Jury Prize in Sundance this year and is also Israel’s official entry for the 89th Academy Awards. Depicting a cultural tale set in a village with a clear slice of life feel, writer-director Elite Zexer delivers quite well with his output. Layla’s father has remarried, her mother is obviously not too happy but she has her own share of problems as her mother finds out about her affair with a fellow student. This is a neat relationship tale that shows the existence of culture and religion dictating terms over affairs of the heart. This is a recommended watch.

Slack Bay/ Ma Loute

slack-baySet in the summer of 1910 around the beach side of the Channel Coast, this French comedy is outrageously over the top and yet entertaining in a bizarre manner. The characters are weird, the acting is appropriately indulgent and the period setting is very genuine. This is a good filler movie at best, nothing more, nothing less.

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