Oct 17, 2016

23rd October 2016; Asghar Farhadi's ABOUT ELLY

A film by Asghar Farhadi
2009 / Iran/ 119 minutes
23rd Oct 2016/ 5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater

“About Elly” the fourth feature from talented Iranian filmmaker  Asghar Farhadi opens with a group of Iranian college friends—among them three couples, two with children—decamping to a rustic villa on the scenic banks of the Caspian Sea.

They have organised this trip quite impulsively: when they arrive, there is some confusion about where they are supposed to be staying, and they have to move into a beachfront villa that happens to be vacant, but is chaotic and derelict. And there is something else.

One of the party, the vivacious Sepideh has invited along someone of whom they know next to nothing: a young woman called Elly , who is their children's teacher. Mischievous Sepideh is hoping to set Elly up with the single friend in their party: Ahmad, who is recently divorced and has just returned from a long stay doing business in Germany.

This film is a revealing light on the elaborate culture of deceit that’s part of modern Iranian society about upper-middle-class Tehranis. The trip starts promisingly with singing and charades but the following morning, panic breaks out.  Farhadi manages the transition with utmost skill. 

“About Elly”  is clearly the work of a master in the making, an artist on the cusp of greatness. There’s almost no one working today who makes films so emotionally honest.

Asghar Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi was born in Isfahan, Iran in 1972. Whilst at school he became interested in writing, drama and the cinema, took courses at the Iranian Young Cinema Society and started his career as a filmmaker by making super 8mm and 16mm films. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Film Direction from Tehran University in 1998.

During his studies, he not only wrote and directed student plays, but also wrote plays for national radio and directed for television with such shows as the hit series Tale of a City.In 2001, Farhadi wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia’s box-office and critical success Low heights. His directorial debut was with 2003’s Dancing in the Dust. This film went on to participate in the Moscow Film Festival, where it won both the Best Leading Actor and Film Critics awards.

Farhadi made his second feature film, Beautiful City, in 2004 which won the Best feature film award at the Warsaw Film Festival 2004, the India International Film Festival and Moscow’s Faces of Love Film Festival. “Chahar shanbeh souri / Fireworks Wednesday”, his third feature, award winner at the Locarno International Film Festival 2006, has also been successful in other international festivals. The film has been released in both Europe and the USA.

On 19 December 2011, he was announced as being on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, scheduled to be held in February 2012. On 15 January 2012, his movie Nader and Simin, A Separation won the Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film.The film was also the official Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards where apart from getting nominated[7] in this category, it also received a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. On the 26 February 2012, Nader and Simin, A Separation became the first Iranian movie to have received an Oscar for the best foreign language film at the 84th edition of the Academy Awards. This marked Farhadi as the first Iranian to have won an Academy Award in any of the competitive categories.

Sep 28, 2016

2nd Oct 2016; Hitchcock's VERTIGO

A film by Alfred Hitchcock
1958/ USA/ 129 Minutes
2nd Oct 2016/ Perks Mini theater

 Vertigo opens with a short prologue that details the circumstances under which Detective John Ferguson (James Stewart) develops an acute case of acrophobia that leads to vertigo whenever he climbs a steep flight of stairs or gets more than a few feet above the ground. 

After leaving the police force because of this condition, John is approached by an old acquaintance, ship yard magnate Gavin Elster to tail his wife, Madeleine,. As John follows Madeleine, watching her day after day, he falls for her..

This cry from a wounded heart comes at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's “Vertigo,” and by the time it comes we are completely in sympathy. A man has fallen in love with a woman who does not exist, and now he cries out harshly against the real woman who impersonated her. But there is so much more to it than that. 

The real woman has fallen in love with him. In tricking him, she tricked herself. And the man, by preferring his dream to the woman standing before him, has lost both.

Hitchcock does a masterful job blending all of Vertigo's diverse elements together. It's a love story, a mystery, and a thriller all rolled into one. It deals with issues of obsession, psychological and physical paralysis, and the tenuous nature of romantic love. Vertigo should really be seen more than once to be fully appreciated. Many of the darker, deeper aspects only begin to bubble to the surface on subsequent viewings.

“Vertigo” (1958), which is one of the best films Hitchcock ever made, is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art. Alfred Hitchcock took universal emotions, like fear, guilt and lust, placed them in ordinary characters, and developed them in images more than in words. A thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema. (Source: Internet)

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is known to his audiences as the 'Master of Suspense' and what Hitchcock mastered was not only the art of making films but also the task of taming his own raging imagination. Director of such works as Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and The 39 steps, Hitchcock told his stories through intelligent plots witty dialogue and a spoonful of mystery and murder. In doing so, he inspired a new generation of filmmakers and revolutionized the thriller genre, making him a legend around the world. His brilliance was sometimes too bright: He was hated as well as loved, oversimplified as well as over analyzed.

Hitchcock was eccentric, demanding, inventive, impassioned and he had a great sense of British humor. His success followed when he made a number of films in Britain such as "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) and Jamaica Inn (1939), some of them which also made him famous in the USA. David O. Selznick, an American producer at the time, got in touch with Hitchcock and the Hitchcock family moved to the USA to direct an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (1940). It was when Saboteur (1942) was made, that films companies began to call his films after him. He retired soon after making Family Plot (1976).In late 1979, Hitchcock was knighted, making him Sir Alfred Hitchcock. On the 29th April 1980, 9:17AM, he died peacefully in his sleep

Sep 14, 2016

18th Sept 2016; MUSTANG


A film by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
2015 / Turkey/ 97min
5.45pm / 18th Sept. / Perks Mini Theater

A beautifully mounted story about the demonization of young female sexuality in a remote Turkish village.Though set in Turkey, shot in Turkish, and telling a Turkish story about the demonization of female sexuality, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s beautifully mounted debut, “Mustang,” has an unmistakable West European sensibility.

This is the story of  five orphaned girls who live in a sizeable, well-furnished home “a thousand kilometres from Istanbul,” but a century from any notion of women’s rights. With their parents dead, they are raised by their grandmother, an aunt and a temperamental uncle.
Mustang tells a straightforward story of female empowerment. There’s a certain dreaminess to Mustang that helps soften the bleakness of what’s playing out on the screen. Ergüven’s camera gravitates toward the hazy light that streams in through the windows of the girls’ house, even as it quickly becomes more akin to a prison. She revels in the sisters’ beauty, youth, and spirit focusing in particular on their long, untamed hair (a reference to the the animal in the title), as it catches the wind like a banner raised in defiance.(Source: Internet )

 Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Deniz Gamze Ergüven was born in Turkey, grew up and went to school in France. In 2011 Ergüven was invited to attend the Cannes Film Festivals Atelier to help develop her project, The Kings. While there she met fellow director Alice Winocour who was there to develop her first feature film Augustine. After Ergüven was unable to find financing for her film Winocour suggested she write a more intimate piece leading the two to begin work on the script for Mustang.

Her debut film Mustang premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award. It later played in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards
Ergüven was also nominated for multiple César Awards, winning the César Award for Best First Feature Film as well as the César Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Sep 1, 2016

4th Sept 2016; Ozu's FLOATING WEEDS

A film by Yasujirô Ozu
1959/ Japan/ 119 minutes
5.45 pm / 4th Sept/ 2016 / Perks Mini Theater

Sooner or later, everyone who loves movies comes to Ozu. He is the quietest and gentlest of directors, the most humanistic, the most serene. But the emotions that flow through his films are strong and deep, because they reflect the things we care about the most.“Floating Weeds” (1959) is like a familiar piece of music that you can turn to for reassurance and consolation. It is so atmospheric--so evocative of a quiet fishing village during a hot and muggy summer--that it envelops you. Its characters are like neighbors.

A panoramic, low angle opening montage of an idyllic Japanese coastal province defines the understated, cinematic poetry of Yasujiro Ozu: a lighthouse framed against a tranquil sea; docked boats undulating with the sweeping waves; villagers weaving lackadaisically through local shops, as much for social interaction as for commerce. 

A struggling, itinerant acting troupe arrives into town for a kabuki show, lead by an aging performer, Master Komajuro . It is a tenuous homecoming for Komajuro. Ozu expertly weaves the narrarative through Komajuro's life, his women, his son and  unexpected setbacks that he faces.

Ozu's pervasive use of low camera height provides more than just a directorial signature style in Floating Weeds. As in Tokyo Story, the atmosphere is intimate and accessible. The characters appear grounded, human, reflecting Ozu's respect for the dignity of the common man. The camera does not wander, but retains focus on the space, creating a unbiased perspective of the characters. 

Inevitably, we understand Komajuro because he is all too human: the aging actor at the twilight of his career; the leader faced with the dissolution of his failed troupe; the father ashamed to reveal his deception. He has transcended the great samurais of his struggling plays, stripped of their cosmetic facade, and is rewarded with compassion and humanity. "Nothing is constant under the sun," someone observes, and this is very much a film which acknowledges the transience of human lives.
Ozu was born on December 12, 1903 in Tokyo. He and his two brothers were educated in the countryside, in Matsuzaka, whilst his father sold fertilizer in Tokyo. Ozu developed a love of film during his early days of school truancy, but his fascination began when he first saw a Matsunosuke historical spectacular at the Atagoza cinema in Matsuzaka. Ozu's uncle, aware of his nephew's love of film, introduced him to Teihiro Tsutsumi, then manager of Shochiku. Not long after, Ozu began working for the great studio—against his father's wishes—as an assistant cameraman.

Yasujirô Ozu

Ozu's work as assistant cameraman involved pure physical labour, lifting and moving equipment at Shochiku's TokyoThe Sword Of Penitence that became his first film as director (and only period piece) in 1927. Ozu was called up into the army reserves before shooting was completed. No negative, prints or script exist of The Sword Of Penitence—and, sadly, only 36 out of 54 Ozu films still exist. studios in Kamata. After becoming assistant director to Tadamoto Okubo, it took less than a year for Ozu to put his first script forward for filming. It was in fact his second script.

Days Of Youth (Wakaki Hi, 1929) is Ozu's earliest extant picture, though not especially typical (and preceded by seven others, now lost) as it is set on ski slopes. Stylistically it is rife with close-ups, fade-outs and tracking shots, all of which Ozu was later to leave behind. Three years later came what is generally recognized as Ozu's first major film, I Was Born, But... (Umarete wa Mita Keredo..., 1932). This moving comedy/drama was a great success in Japan both critically and financially. It was one of cinema's finest works about children. Thirty years into his filmmaking career Ozu was making films which, like Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952), questioned the sense of spending your whole working life behind a desk—something that many of his audience must have been doing. Ozu's films represent a lifelong study of the Japanese family and the changes that a family unit experiences. He ennobles the humdrum world of the middle-class family and has been regarded as “the most Japanese of all filmmakers”, not just by Western critics, but also by his countrymen.

Aug 25, 2016

Embrace of the Serpent 
A film by Ciro Guerra
2015/  Columbia/ 125 minutes /
 5.45 pm /28th Aug 2016 / Perks Mini Theater

The ravages of colonialism cast a dark pall over the stunning South American landscape in “Embrace of the Serpent,” the latest visual astonishment from the gifted Colombian writer-director Ciro Guerra. Charting two parallel journeys deep into the Amazon, each one undertaken by a European explorer and a local shaman, this bifurcated narrative delivers a fairly comprehensive critique of the destruction of indigenous cultures at the hands of white invaders.

“Impossible to describe in words its beauty and splendor,” the Dutch explorer Theodor von Martins wrote of the Colombian Amazon in 1909, and no words are needed in light of David Gallego’s majestic lensing, his widescreen compositions capturing a lush rainforest setting in sharp, exquisitely subtle shades of monochrome. 

The film’s central figure is A young shaman named Karamakate, last survivor of the Cohiuano, an Amazonian tribe killed off by the rubber barons. He is no innocent, noble savage but an angry, morally complex individual with a heart full of grief.  It’s sometime during the early 1900s . Theo a German explorer with his local guide is searching for the Yakuna, an exceedingly rare flower that could heal him of his sickness with the help of Karamakate.

Every so often, the film jumps 40 years into the future to join a rugged American named Evan  as he enlists an older Karamakate  to retrace his steps on a hunt for the same flower plant — snaking together these parallel journeys into a mesmeric call and response. Towards the end  the film moves to mystical higher ground, as abhorrence expands into awe. Shot in dreamy black and white, spoken in nine separate languages, and told with an unerring devotion to authenticity this film is a fitting requiem for the ravages of white hegemony  (source: Internet)

Ciro Guerra

Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra wove magical realism into stories of his native country and its people into a trio of award-winning features, including the Oscar-nominated "Embrace of the Serpent" (2015). Born February 6, 1981 in the town of Rio de Oro, Colombia, Guerra studied film and television at the National University of Colombia before directing a trio of shorts - the live action "Silence" (1998) and "Alma" (2001) and the animated short "Intento" (2002) - and "Documental Siniestro: Jairo Pinilla, Cineasta" ("Sinister Documentary: Jairo Pinilla, Filmmaker," 1999), which focused on the eponymous Colombian cult director. 

In 2004, Guerra released his first feature-length directorial effort, "Wandering Shadows," a drama about a disabled man whose Dickensian life in a Bogota barrio is improved by a mysterious stranger. "Shadows" won the Films in Progress award from the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and paved the way for his second feature, "Los viajes del viento" ("The Wind Journeys," 2009), with Colombian musician Marciano Martinez as a folk musician who embarks on a journey to return his accordion - an instrument supposedly won in a duel with the Devil - to his former master. Another critical success, the film earned Guerra the Award of the City of Rome at the 2009 Cannes Film 

Shot on location in a remote corner of the Amazon River in Colombia, and photographed in stark black-and-white imagery, "Embrace of the Serpent" concerned a four-decade search for a legendary plant with alleged healing powers conducted by a shaman - the last member of his tribe - and two scientists. Based on the diaries of the real scientists, "Serpent" was hailed by international critics, and earned a slew of laurels, from a 2016 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film to the Art Cinema award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Jul 13, 2016

Konangal pays tribute to the great Iranian master 

A film by Abbas Kiarostami
1999 /Iran / 113 minutes
17th JULY  5.45 pm / Perks Mini Theater

"We're heading nowhere," a disembodied voice complains as a battered jeep crawls up a winding road through harsh, scrubby terrain. So begins The Wind Will Carry Us—one of the great films by Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami.

A busy video producer/engineer Behzad from Tehran is sent to a remote Iranian village to capture an obscure burial ceremony. But the 'subject' of his film , Mrs. Malek is ill, not dead, forcing the man and his production crew to slow down, linger in the village, and mingle with the local families. Along the way, the engineer encounters a radically different lifestyle than his own, with different priorities. In doing so, his perspective on the natural world is changed.

Behzad recites a poem in the film , a poem by Furugh Farrukhzad (1935-67), one of the most extraordinary Persian or Iranian female poets of the twentieth century, which gives the film its title and which treats the central conflict in the film, “life in the face of death.” In Iran, people at all social levels know poetry and quote it to each other constantly, for all sorts of reasons Poetry and Sufism. Both are useful coordinates for anyone trying to get a fix on the intent behind this gorgeous, semi-opaque film, The Wind Will Carry Us
This film is remarkable in its sustained pace, perspective, and ability to focus so sharply on a single character without revealing too much of that character, allowing him to retain a sense of mystery and delightful ambiguity. In the title sequence of The Wind Will Carry Us absences define presences in numerous ways. In fact, many major characters in the film -- including Mrs. Malek, Youssef, and all three members of Behzad's crew -- are never seen. Most of the sequence unfolds in semidarkness.

The Wind Will Carry Us offers an intricately constructed spatial world that's as breathtakingly beautiful, as various, and as cosmically evocative as a Brueghel landscape -- a world teeming with diverse kinds of life and activity -- and it teases us whenever we want to get to know this world better, seducing and evading us at the same time. If you're open to the possibility that the world is bigger than you typically give it credit for, and you're willing to invest some effort in letting go of your usual way of seeing, this film will be a revelation for you. (From Internet)

Abbas Kiarostami
June 22, 1940 - July 4, 2016

Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian filmmaker who is widely considered one of the world's greatest living directors has written and directed some 41 movies since the early 1970s, and has been compared by critics to such titans of international cinema as Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa.

In her survey of recent achievements in film, Susan Sontag declared, “Iranian cinema has been the great revelation of the last decade.” Surely one of those largely responsible for this phenomenon is the screenwriter and director Abbas Kiarostami. Few new films draw comparisons to classics like Mr. Bergman's "Wild Strawberries," Michelangelo Antonioni's "Red Desert" or Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt." Mr. Kiarostami's movies not only evoke such parallels; they also seem to infuse the beleaguered art-film traditions with fresh urgency.

Born in Tehran in 1940, Kiarostami worked as a commercial artist and children’s book illustrator until he was invited to lead the department of cinema at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Given this background, it’s not surprising that many of his projects feature children. Kiarostami is a graduate of Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in Painting

Mr. Kiarostami's own filmmaking began at the end of the 1960's when the loose-knit movement later labeled the Iranian New Wave was just gaining steam. One hallmark of Mr. Kiarostami's work is its esthetic consistency. "Bread and Alley," the first short he made, in 1970, has qualities that distinguish his films up to "Taste of Cherry": a lyrical but concrete feel for the particulars of place and visual atmosphere; a way of eliciting strikingly natural performances from nonactors; and stories in which an anecdotal surface disguises a rich substratum of philosophical, allegorical or social concerns.

Mr. Kiarostami did not consider leaving the country during the Iranian revolution of 1978-79, he said, "because of a revolution going on in my own house." His own marriage was failing. Pierre Rissient, an executive with Ciby 2000, the French company that handles worldwide sales of "Taste of Cherry," says that Mr. Kiarostami "proceeds the way the Greek philosophers like Heraclitus do, or Chinese figures like Laotzu, or Japanese Zen poets like Basho -- the poetry is completely linked with philosophy."

The protagonists of his films are the ordinary people who surround us. Their lives represent no more and no less of what constitute ours. Their presence in films provides us with an opportunity to think about the everydayness of our existence and relationships; an opportunity to see them as a mirror that reflects the depth of our human feelings and thoughts.

Abbas Kiarostami's films seek to uncover the deepest human emotions in the most ordinary events in life. His works are a demonstration of the significance and relevance of these emotions to the restless, captive, and tormented individuals of the twentieth century.

Everything in Kiarostami's films speaks to the matter at hand. His films direct the spectator toward central human problems. He has deeply-held ideas and feelings. He wants to say certain things about life. So he doesn't waste his time or ours. Nothing has been done merely for effect, to impress the spectator, to enhance the director's reputation. There aren't so many artists like that around, unfortunately.

Kiarastomi passed away in Paris on 4th July thus year. He was later buried in a private ceremony in northern Tehran. Thousands of Iranians bid  tearful farewell to their country’s greatest filmmaker.