New Delhi: Cinema lovers in the capital have never had it so good. More than 200 films from 40 Asian and Arab countries were screened over ten days. There were interactions with authors, filmmakers, art lovers, actors and first time directors over seminars, conferences, exhibitions, auctions and panel discussions, drawing attention to the entire cycle of a film’s journey.
Six juries consisting of 22 celebrated directors, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers gave away awards in the Asian and Arab, Indian, First Features and In-Tolerance sections. According to Neville Tuli, founder chairman, Osian’s, the award money this year was raised to over Rs1 crore for the Competition Category and the Lifetime Achievement Awards.
‘Tokyo Sonata’ by Kiyoshi Kurosawa won the best film award for its sensitive, panoramic portrayal of dramatically changing socio-economic and family values. ‘Three Monkeys’ directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan of Turkey and ‘Salt of the Sea’, from Palestine were clearly audience favourites and not surprisingly, found the best director and best actor awards coming to them. Both movies will have an India release in August this year. The jury for ‘Salt of the Sea’ was hopeful that the recognition would open the doors for the courageous director, Annamarie Jacir, who has been banned from her home country.
Other highlights of the festival were the Hong Kong film ‘Sparrow’ by maverick filmmaker Johnny To and My Blueberry Nights’ by the eminent Wong Kar-wai, starring Norah Jones in her debut film.
A special screening of films from Pakistan drew full houses at both Siri Fort and Alliance Francaise, with ‘Ramchand Pakistani’ by Mehreen Jabbar , ‘The will of Gurmukh Singh’ by Sharjil Baloch, ‘This is Hindustan, This is Pakistan’ by Ehteshamuddin Mohammed, ‘Hell’s ground’ by Omar Ali Khan, and ‘The Victoria’s stamp’ by Mohammed Saife Hassan.
The closing film, ‘Mumbai Cutting’ had its first India screening on Saturday. An innovative experiment, the film traced 11 short stories of 10 minutes duration, directed by stalwarts like Sudhir Mishra, Kundan Shah, Rahul Dholakia and Revathy, each one capturing different nuances of Mumbai ... from the tragi-comic travails of a typical Mumbai train commuter to a love story unfolding while the city was drowning in the Mumbai floods of 2005 to crime being an integral part of the city, the movie had its moments, but perhaps the import of 11 different themes, most of which thought provoking and intense was lost, given the quick flip to the next story.
The low budget film, ‘Gulabi Talkies’ directed by Girish Kasarvalli walked away with the best film award in the Indian competition section.‘The Whisperers’ by Rajiv Virani has been ready for two years but without a formal release. The Manoj Bajpai-Rahul Bose starrer will be dubbed in Hindi before hitting the screens later this year. ‘Kabootar’ by Maqbool Khan, a powerful film, somewhat in the Ram Gopal Verma mould, had two full house screenings and interactions with the entire cast. Bioscope by K.M. Madhusudhanan, ‘Uproar’ by Jaideep Verma and ‘Mohandas’ by Mazhar Kamran were also premiered at the festival.
Glitches like having the power switching off in the middle of an intense scene and wrong spools being inserted, pass holders not getting their legitimate seats, leading to heated arguments with doormen and sound systems that were not ideal for the different sized audi notwithstanding, the festival was a delight for movie buffs, who tried to cram as many screenings as possible, with most shows seeing young people happily sitting in the aisles to catch their favourite set of films.
This year, the festival confined itself to the four auditoria of Siri Fort and the ML Bhartiya auditorium of Alliance, doing away with the Connaught Place cinemas they had added last year. The crowds were bigger and the arrangements certainly better. Little wonder, that cinema lovers are already waiting for the 11th Osian Cinefan and are keeping fingers crossed that the organizers do not at any stage think of bypassing Delhi, in favour of Mumbai, as the venue for the festival.