A look at the Red Carpet Screenings at CIFF

If you are unable to make up your mind and take your pick from the 163 films playing at the Chennai International Film Festival that was inaugurated on Thursday evening, the organisers are rolling the red carpet for the best films at the fest, for special guests and industry celebrities (RSVP: 98400 77270 or 99623 30286 to confirm your seat).

Registered delegates can catch these films at the regular festival venues. (For delegate passes, contact festival office at Woodlands theatre with a passport size photo. Passes that give access to all 163 films during the festival are priced at Rs. 500, and Rs. 300 for film union members and students. You can also register online at chennaifilmfest.com)

Here's a quick look at the red carpet films playing at INOX, Citi Centre, every evening, starting Friday 6.30 p.m.

December 13:

The Hunt, directed by Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark (Playing at Woodlands, 2 p.m. on December 16 for delegates)

The Hunt, Denmark's official Oscar entry, is about Lucas, a 40-year-old teacher, who is accused of sexually harassing a kid. But he didn't. The child lied. Randomly, without reason. But will the world believe him? Vinterberg's film is dark, disturbing and absolutely riveting as we see Lucas set up as the target of a hunt, by the entire community. This is a must watch!

December 14: Walesa: Man of Hope, directed by Andrzej Wajda, Poland (Playing at Woodlands, 7 p.m. on December 17 for delegates)

Andrzej Wajda fans should check out this biopic of Lech Walesa, an electrician at a shipyard who leads a revolution that topples a tyrannical dictator and brings about democracy in Poland in the 1980s, only to find himself in a thankless position. Walesa is Poland's official Oscar entry.

December 15: The Past (Le Passe), directed by Asghar Farhadi, France (Playing at Woodlands, 2 p.m. on December 18 for delegates)

In his follow up to A Separation, Asghar Farhadi sort of continues the story of dysfunctional relationship, four years after the separation. Can people really let go of the past, especially when they have shared so much in common? Farhadi once again surprises us with twists galore and leaves us with one of the most haunting endings of the year — a long lingering shot with no dialogue, a picture that says a thousand words.

December 16: Omar, directed by Hany Abu-Assad, Palestine (Playing at Woodlands, 4.30 p.m. on December 18 for delegates)

Palestine's official Oscar entry Omar won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes earlier this year and won rave reviews after the Toronto festival screening. An unusual coming-of-age film of a baker boy, who braves bullets for his love and crosses over to the side of war on the other side of the separation wall. This drama film comes strongly recommended by the festival organisers.

December 17: The Great Beauty, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Italy (Playing at Woodlands, 7 p.m. on December 18 for delegates)

One of my personal favourites and probably one of the best films I have seen all my life, this is the story of a 65-year-old single journalist who starts wondering about the meaning of life and this fascinating existential crisis takes us on a rollercoaster ride. Woody Allen's wit meets Baz Luhrman's visual flair meets Terrence Malick's philosophy, all in one film.

December 18: Harmony Lessons, directed by Emir Baigazin, Germany/Kazakhstan (Playing at Woodlands, 2 p.m. on December 19 for delegates)

The reviews make it sound like one of the best looking films of the festival. Critics have hailed it for its striking cinematography and surreal feel. It is the story of a 13-year-old boy who is bullied by a bunch of older boys with criminal connections, and his revenge.