With 53 films, including a retrospective on Auraeus Solito, Chalachitra’s Trivandrum International Film Festival, which begins on Friday, is a bonanza for film lovers. Here are the highlights of the fete

Film festivals offer lovers of cinema an a la carte of films from across continents, showcasing wide ranging themes and a zillion ways of capturing an idea on film. Therefore, the 17th edition of Trivandrum International Film Festival (TIFF) organised by the city-based Chalachitra Film Society has the following sections – Spanish Focus (seven films), Mandarin Cross section (seven from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong), French Spectrum (four), Auraeus Solito Retrospective (five), World Cinema (14 films from 12 countries) and Asian Cinema (seven films from five countries). All that Summer by Miao Yue from China is the Opening film at the TIFF which will be inaugurated by internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Shaji N. Karun.

The first film to be screened at the week-long (August 10 to 16) event is one with very strong Indian connections: Gangor, Italo Spinelli’s Italian-Indian co-production, based on Mahasweta Devi’s short story Choli Ke Peeche, which takes a looks at violence against the tribal woman as something deeper than sheer power dynamics and animal urge.

According to George Mathew of the Chalachitra Film Society, who has played curator for this festival, “the Spanish package (Agora, Elegy, The Last Circus, Solitary Fragments, and Butterfly Tongues), should be considered tops this time.

All the four French films are of a high order, and Auraeus Solito, the Filipino filmmaker who is featured in the Retrospective, is the real discovery.” With The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, Tuli, Philippine Science, Boy, and Berlin Festival winner Busong (Palawan Fate) one gets to see his major films.

Leading the contemporary Masters’ section is Andrezj Wajda’s Korczak, a film which prompted the filmmaker to comment, “Isn’t art for telling it in some other way?” Based on the real life story of Dr. Januscz Korczak, who attempts to save 200 children in his orphanage from landing in the Treblinka concentration camp, Wajda tweaks the ending to make a difference to the whole viewing experience. Fatih Akin’s Soul Kitchen adopts a pace quite apart from his usual serious productions, while Alejandro Amanebar’s The Sea Inside is yet another tale of personal battle by a young man seeking euthanasia. Israeli filmmaker Dan Wolman in Valley of Strength sets his film in nineteenth century Palestine where the Jewish family escaping from the pogrom in Russia finds the going tough in the new land.

Nils Gaup (Kautokeino Rebellion - Norway), Dimos Avdeliodis (The Four Seasons of Law - Greece) and Nae Caranfil (Philanthropy - Romania) are other directors presented in this section.

The 2010 Korean film Poetry by Chang Dong Li which was well-received both on the home circuits as well as in the festivals is a film to look out for. For the Koreans it was a comeback film for their screen icon of the sixties’ – Yoon Jeong-he, who essayed the role of an aged woman seeking strength in poetry late in life even as she copes with problems around her, and the gradual decline of her faculties.

Byari, the National Award winning film by Suveeran, is a prized catch at this festival, since it has hardly had any screenings in the State. The little known Byari community’s lifestyle and culture is captured through a tale which also is a close look at the archaic laws that bind the women when it comes to both marriage and divorce. The window to the little known community forms the nucleus to build on an issue which is not confined to their little group.

The PSBT documentary by noted filmmaker Shaji N. Karun, Waiting to be screened encapsulates the innumerable ways ‘waiting’ impacts or is perceived by an individual. Dr. Biju’s latest film Aakashathinte Niram is also being screened at this festival.

The TIFF will hold eight screenings a day, at the University Students’ Centre and will conclude with the Bangla film by Aniruddha Roy Choudhury, Aparajita Tumi.