Food for eyes and thought

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A question evoked at a screening was: should films be easy to understand?


‘The Great Beauty’ might have been a highly acclaimed film at festivals around the world but in Chennai, the response seemed a little lukewarm, despite packed halls and people sitting on the stairs to watch the film at the red carpet screening on Tuesday.

Some industry celebrities kept talking in their seats about how they couldn’t understand what was going on and wondered when it would end. Some of them even made a quick exit a half hour before the film ended.

The discussion that followed the screening however, went on for about 30 minutes as most who stayed behind, led by cinematographer Alphonse Roy, spoke at length about the depth of the Paulo Sorrentino modern classic and compared it to Terrence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’.

Both were films that required multiple viewings given the existential questions they raised and answered. Most of the debate surrounding the film revolved around the question: Should films be easily understood by the audience? Even at a film festival?

No easy business for women

In a discussion on ‘Women behind Cinema’ moderated by Suhasini Maniratnam, the experience of the panel members revealed that it is still difficult for a woman to be treated on par with men, especially if they are working in the technical side of filmmaking or in film production.

Young Sitara Suresh, who has been involved in the production of ‘Billa 2’ and ‘Malini 22 Palayamkottai’, said she still finds that men have a problem when it comes to taking orders from women.

The panel, which also included Pushpa Kandaswamy, CEO of Kavithalaya Productions and Archana Kalpathi, CEO of AGS cinemas, discussed how the film industry up north is a tad better than the south when it came to the number of women working as assistant directors and executive producers. As if to vindicate the views of the panel, Tina, an assistant director in the Tamil film industry, said that she ‘finds it so difficult and nothing has changed.’

The money factor

The question of who do we make films for and why do we make films kept cropping up during a discussion on bringing ‘novel ideas to film’ during a forum at INOX on Wednesday. Aren’t all films commercial because they need to recover costs?

And Suhasini Maniratnam sprung a quote by Walt Disney to bring in some perspective. Disney said: “We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

Iran leads the way

There is almost no film festival in the world today without the presence of Iranian films. This year at CIFF, Majid Barzegar’s ‘Parviz’, which is about a 50-year-old unmarried and unemployed man whose father, after deciding to get married, asks him to leave the house, got a fantastic response from the audience when it was screened at Woodlands theatre.

While acknowledging the impact Iranian films have had on filmmakers around the world, Majid wondered why official government agencies impose so many restrictions on filmmakers. “They are scared even when filmmakers explore complexities of human relationships. I don’t know why,” he said.

The film recently won the Suvarna Chakoram for Best Film at the international film festival of Kerala.

(Compiled by Sudhish Kamath

and Udhav Naig)




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