Power-wielding men can go to great lengths to protect their turf, so much so that limits of propriety do not matter to them. Two films at the 26th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK)— The Good Boss in the World Cinema category and Anatolian Leopard’ in the Competition section—tells the story of two such men, although their intent, their methods, and the way the directors treat their subjects are vastly different.
In Anatolian Leopard, a Turkish film directed by Emre Kayis, the director of a zoo is trying to prevent the facility from being privatised and turned into a theme park by Arab corporates. At the centre of his plan is Hercules, an Anatolian Leopard, considered a national treasure in the country, and which is close to getting extinct. He engineers the “disappearance” of the Leopard. The privatisation process cannot go ahead unless the animal is tracked down and transferred to another facility.
Fikret (Ugur Polat) considers himself the last one of his tribe, almost like the Anatolian Leopard. He is someone who stays away from blindly pursuing wealth, choosing to appreciate the finer things in life, although that could mean he is always left behind, almost as a loser, a fact which hits him when he meets his old schoolmates. So, it is natural that he is dead set against the idea of privatisation, which was forced upon the zoo, after years of cutting Government funds for the facility. But the method that he chooses has unintended consequences and might not be even enough to get him what he wanted.
Compared to Fikret, the protagonist Blanco (Javier Bardem) in the Spanish film The Good Boss is a ruthless man who would do anything for profits as the chairman of his family-owned company that manufactures scales and balances. Even while presenting himself as a boss who cares for the personal well-being of his employees, he heartlessly fires them and is not beyond using his powers to get his way with female interns. But, ahead of a factory inspection for a prestigious industrial award, he uses every dirty trick in his bag to crush those who could spoil that, especially a former employee staging a protest with his children in front of the factory against an unjust lay-off.
Finding that his childhood friend and production manager is going through a tough phase in his marriage, the chairman shamelessly meddles in the affair too, not out of concern for his friend, but to get him in the best frame of mind ahead of the inspection. Unlike Fikret in Anatolian Leopard, Blanco is not someone the audience can empathise with. While director Fernando León de Aranoa chooses a more mainstream and upbeat treatment for The Good Boss, Emre Kayis in Anatolian Leopard chooses a layered, meditative approach, at times labouring a bit too much to get to the climax. Although both men are protecting their power centres, the former is a commentary on corporate excess while the latter is a losing battle against a transformation to such a world of excess.