A sneak peek at a few films screened on the last day of the Chennai International Film Fest
On the last day (December 20) of the Chennai International Film Fest, movie lovers got to see some fascinating world cinema. Here’s a peek at some of the best films that were screened
Rust and Bone
Jacques Audiard delights in pairing jarringly contrasting characters who overcome their respective handicaps and form a deep bond. In Read My Lips the handicap was physical. In The Beat That My Heart Skipped, the handicap was cultural. In movie after movie, Audiard reinforces his belief that there is more to anyone than may appear. Alain is on the run with his son Sam and shows up at the doorstep of his sister with (presumably) nowhere else to go. He has not seen or spoken to her in years but that does not bother him. He is not flustered, embarrassed or apologetic. He doesn’t feel many emotions. It is this toughness and invulnerability that makes him a good boxer. He does odd jobs to make money. One such job he finds is as a bouncer at a nightclub. Here he meets a whale trainer, Stephanie. There is some casual flirting between the two of them but nothing serious until Stephanie has a major accident involving her whale and subsequently loses both legs. When Alain goes to meet Stephanie, its obvious she hasn’t left her home since the accident. Alain really is the perfect sort of person to rehabilitate her in society. He doesn’t have pity or compassion, and that’s the last thing a disabled person wants. Their relationship has dignity and respect even though sometimes Alain has to carry Stephanie on his back. A more caring person might have made Stephanie embarrassed but Alain truly feels nothing so nothing rubs off on her. She eagerly attends his boxing bouts and vicariously lives off its physicality. But it is not just Stephanie who needs Alain. When Alain’s son has a serious accident he breaks down and cries and it is to Stephanie that he unburdens his heart. He comes to realise that in such moments one needs a companion to share one’s problems. They both discover parts of themselves they didn’t know existed through their respective tragedies. Two broken people looking for something whole find each other instead.
This Must Be The Place
In This Must Be The Place Sean Penn plays an ageing rock star who still dresses up like a goth. He moves and talks at a halting pace that suggests he might have taken one too many drugs. A bored Cheyenne quietly contemplates everything. He seems detached and far removed from everything. When his father dies he embarks on a journey to hunt down a Nazi War criminal from the same camp as his father in Auschwitz. His father was in the process of hunting him down when he passed away and unlikely as it is Cheyenne picks up the thread and continues the hunt.
As the movie unfolds we realise he is one of those people defined by his father and as he grows older he begins to understand his father. Once he gets back home he cuts his hair and removes his make-up. He is no longer rebelling against his father. He grows up and doesn’t let his childhood define him anymore.
The Delay
The Delay is a commentary on the value system of the world we live in, especially how we treat the elderly. Maria finds it increasingly difficult to take care of her ageing father Augustin. Augustin suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s. As he tends to lose his way someone always has to accompany him. Even though he is in control of his other faculties his family and outsiders treat him like an infant. They feed and bathe him and put him to bed. Everyday habits such as eating and bathing become a ritual – a demeaning exercise. We can see the pain of losing his dignity in his eyes but his family is too busy to notice. One day Maria, driven to the edge, abandons him. He waits all day and night for her return. He never once loses faith or questions her. We meet a number of other characters both good and bad. Maria herself feels guilty and searches high and low for Augustin. She tries to apologise but Augustin won’t remember anyway. His disability has left him blissfully unaware.
And the winner is…
Three emerging filmmakers took away prizes from Indian cinema icon Amitabh Bachchan on Thursday evening (December 20) at a packed Woodlands theatre.
The Bollywood star was the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the 10th Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF). Five shortlisted documentaries, each two minutes long, were screened — World Cinema by Arikarasudhan, Chennai Gaana by Vydianathan Ramaswamy, Praveen Kumar’s Rikshaw, Lokesh’s Dhobi Khana and Slice of Chennai in the U.S. by Santosh Murali.
While the biggest prize for these filmmakers was to shake hands with the Big B, they also received cash prizes of Rs. 30,000, Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 10,000, sponsored by Casa Grande, for the first, second and third prizes, respectively.
The second runner-up was Arikarasudhan’s World Cinema which walked us through the bylanes of the city and helped viewers discover a treasure trove of cinema. The last line of the documentary "World cinema na Burma Bazaar dhaan!" drew applause from the audience.
The first runner-up, a narrative entirely in song, was Chennai Gaana by Vydianathan Ramaswamy!
Bagging the first prize of The Hindu CIFF Documentary Contest held for the first time was S. Lokesh for Dhobi Khana. It showed a facet of the city as vital as the clothes we wear, with a poignant narrative. It revealed a city in need of a clean-up, and was a focussed attempt completely in tune with the tenets of documentary-making. In short, it was the past, present and future of Vannanthurai in two minutes.