MAMI Glimpses

The 18th edition of Mumbai Film Festival kicked off with delegates, media and filmmakers from all over the world assembling at one or the other of the seven venues spread across the city. Our film critic Hoshang K. Katrak reports.

Dog Days (China, 95 min); Dir. – Jordan Schiele: An Abba-type Chinese song is performed by a group of girls in a nightclub. One of them – Lulu, an unmarried mother discovers that the young father of her child has disappeared with the baby. She treks him to a gay bar with Sunny. Lulu craves to get her child back, even at the cost of losing her boyfriend to Sunny. Dog Days is a well-directed drama, with short, crisp dialogues and incisive subtitles.

Safari (Austria, 91 min); Dir. – Ulrich Seidl: Shot in Namibia, it tries to justify – for the most part – shooting animals in the wild… Austrian tourists shooting down wildebeest, zebra, impala, etc. advance arguments such as ‘deliverance of the elderly’, ‘helping the, to propagate’ orfilm-reel-clipart-rw1e2t-clipart‘justifying the killing of a rogue lion’ – definitely not a film that could be commercially exhibited in India.
Anatomy of Violence (Canada, 93 min); Dir. – Deepa Mehta: It’s an experimental film, shot in Delhi but pieced together by the Oscar-nominated Deepa Mehta in Canada, on the probable reasons why men indulge in sexual violence. Based on the famous Nirbhaya case, it theorises that ‘no one becomes who they are in isolation’.

Mostly Sunny (Canada, 86 min); Dir. – Dilip Mehta: Let’s face it – There are two solid reasons why people throng to a Sunny Leone film. Born Karenjit Kaur Vohra, it’s a fascinating, no-holds-barred documentary on the ex-porn star from Sarnia, Ontario. Leone has proved to be a rare combination of ‘beauty, brains and b**bs’. With unabashed footage of her pin-ups and video clips of her profession before she entered Bollywood and some startling admissions by her, this is a must watch.
Graduation (Romania, 128 min); Dir. – Christian Mungiu: Dr. Aldea is the ideal father, bringing up his only daughter Eliza with the sole objective of sending her abroad for further studies. But a horrific incident puts all this in peril. Has he also been a model husband? A film with excellent performances and understated dialogues.

Nocturama (France, 130 min); Dir. – Bertrand Bonello: A bunch of juveniles from disparate milieu assemble for a common purpose – their plan seems to be devious. Though it has reasonably good performances – at two hours plus, it’s quite overstretched.
Elle (France, 131 min); Dir. – Paul Verhoeven: The film opens with a brutal sexual assault on Michelle, who owns a video game company. Trying to outsmart her assaulter – even while coping with her personal and professional lives – Michelle betrays a few chinks in her armour.
Hounds of Love (Australia, 108 min); Dir. – Ben Young: It’s December 1987 in Perth, Western Australia. A middle-aged deranged and depraved couple, high on drugs and sex, abduct 17-year-old Vicki. Will her tenacity in the face of odds permit her to escape? An outstanding, unobtrusive score helps the film along to its climax.
I, Daniel Blake (UK, 100 min); Dir. – Ken Loach: A superlative effort by celebrated director Ken Loach, it depicts the unending travails of a heart patient, 59-year-old Daniel Blake who seeks social security benefits from the government. And when he meets Katie, a single mother with her two young adorable kids, their lives assume a different proportion.
It’s a medley of human emotions, and with outstanding performances from the lead and support cast, this is probably the film of the Festival!

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