BIFFes 2020: A window to the world

A low-down on what happened at the twelfth edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival

The recently concluded twelfth edition of BIFFes was easily the most competently organised in all these years. The crowds have swelled gradually over the years and the first day saw a queue befitting a blockbuster. The serpentine queues were pretty well regulated with the volunteers keeping a hawk’s eye for those who jumped or joined midway. The steep discount on foodstuff was welcome, though the service inside was a mild irritant. The Corona virus was yet to go viral, but people squirmed involuntarily whenever someone coughed continuously.

The quality of films has improved too. More producers are willing to send their work now probably because the digital format makes it much easier than sending reels. Film Festivals are a window to the vast world, from breathtakingly beautiful locales to the various languages, cultures, customs and colours of different people and landscapes. In one week, you get to traverse the globe with a single ticket sans passport or visa. What bind us are emotions and relationships which are universal.

Andrei Tarkovsky and Anant Nag were honoured with richly deserved retrospectives. While Tarkovsky has inspired many a filmmaker, Anant is the envy of most performers for his sheer effortlessness as a performer.

The atmosphere was definitely festive. Poring over the menu card of movies and scampering from screen to screen trying to time the next show is a common sight.

Strangely, there’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing ours is not the only country where heinous crimes are committed against women or where only women are blamed for a childless marriage. ‘Zana’ is about a Kosovar woman browbeaten by her mother-in-law into meeting fertility experts as well as faith healers and witches in an effort to get her to conceive. The rich details about the customs of this clan in Kosovo are captured with a keen eye. In the lead role, Lume infuses an emptiness into her character, reacting with a physical attack only when her husband suggests getting another bride.

Set in Melbourne, ‘Measure For Measure’ is a gritty tale about morality and mercy set in housing commission apartments. The characters are colourful — from a drug kingpin to an immigrant falling for a musician earning the wrath of her brother, a goon. Love is a key element, but the clash of cultures and egos has a foreboding of doom and gloom.

‘Sister’ from Bulgaria is about a mother and her two daughters. The younger one spins colourful tales to brighten up her dull existence selling the amateurishly crafted figurines they make. The yarns she spins seem innocuous till it alienates her sister and sends their boring existence into a tizzy turning the film into a psychological thriller while throwing relationships in disarray. The poignant climax highlights nature’s ability to bind people irrespective of their inherent nature and morals.

‘All About Me’ is about a pudgy child who brightens lives around him with his mimicry even as he watches his mother’s health deteriorate after a botched surgery. Based on a best-selling autobiography, the film is about the therapeutic powers of laughter. The highlight of the film is the warm relationship that bonds the family and sees them emerge unscathed from emotional wounds. The film effortlessly makes you laugh and cry, as well.

Next, we move to Turkey where a censor in charge of screening letters to and from prisoners, becomes fixated with the wife of a particular inmate. Fancying himself a writer, the officer starts imagining a tale that could possibly be true. Soon, curiosity turns to obsession, blurring the line between reality and imagination.

‘A Regular Woman’ is based on a 2005 honour killing of the eldest daughter in a Sunni Muslim family by her youngest brother in Germany. Sadly, the sufferer is the woman’s child who thankfully wasn’t handed over to the family for whom honour is more important than their daughter’s happiness. ‘A Painted Bird’ from Venice is a three-hour tour of the hell a child undergoes in ravaged East Europe. The film was shot in black and white over several years to show the growth of the boy and his journey from innocence to the depths of despair after his encounters. The graphic scenes make you want to bolt out the door, but the cinematic quality keeps you riveted to your seat.

Film festivals are like train journeys where you may not meet old friends, but definitely make new ones. It’s the annual gathering of cinema gourmets who want to sample everything, but can’t for want of time, rather than an ability to digest.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:53:31 AM |

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