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Cinema paradiso

Cinema paradiso
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First Published: Fri, Jul 01 2011. 07 57 PM IST

Treasure trove: Children’s movies such as Gubbachigalu delight all audiences— young and old.
Treasure trove: Children’s movies such as Gubbachigalu delight all audiences— young and old.
Updated: Fri, Jul 01 2011. 07 57 PM IST
That director Priyadarshan—blatantly commercial in language and appeal—even thought of remaking Iranian film-maker Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven is indicative—irrespective of Bumm Bumm Bole’s artistic merit or box-office success—of the gap in the market and the existence of a world of untapped cinema out there, believes Mumbai-based critic and film curator Meenakshi Shedde. “The comfort level of the new generation with film as a medium is way beyond anything their parents have achieved,” says Shedde.
Even as parents attempt to control TV viewing hours and reduce video-gaming time, the hunger for new and appropriate material at both ends—parent and child—is evident. So what’s new out there besides a regular Friday release that’s clean and accessible viewing? “Indian parents were scared away from world cinema by the mind-numbingly boring National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) films and animations of yore. It was always serious, issue-based or boring,” says S. Narayan, festival director of the Mumbai International Film Festival. Nandita Das, actor and chairperson of the Children's Film Society, India (CFSI), admits India does not have enough of children’s films: “Very few. As there aren’t enough children’s films made in India. The so-called family films are pushing out the children’s films even further, and not everybody is privileged to see films from other countries.”
Treasure trove: Children’s movies such as Gubbachigalu delight all audiences— young and old.
Das, Shedde and Narayan recommend looking at films from Scandinavia, Russia, Poland, erstwhile Czechoslovakia, Japan, China and Iran for innovative and healthy children’s cinema.
Jugu Abraham, a former film critic, international film festival consultant and an expert on Japanese cinema, recommends animation ace Hayao Miyazaki for Indian children. “The Japanese children’s cinema of Miyazaki will be accepted by Indian children because of the content (family values and good deeds being underscored) and his skill with animation.”
Parents shouldn’t worry about accessibility and language, the three say. Das explains: “Often, good children’s films are audio-visually rich and rely less on dialogues. I have seen that in our CFSI’s international children’s film festival, kids from across the country connect with good films from all over the world, without understanding the language. We as a film-watching country also need to encourage the habit of reading subtitles to increase the range of films that we can watch.” Shedde says. “When it’s a good film, you realize you connect with it—say, with Satyajit Ray’s films—without always understanding the entire language.”
Das suggests parents “pick up films while travelling, look up YouTube and look out for short films that are not part of the mainstream distribution network”. Shedde suggests “memberships of the Taj Enlighten Film Society, Lumiere and Palador, venues such as the Max Mueller Bhavan and Alliance Française that hold screenings of world cinema”.
Here’s a compilation of contemporary and classic films for children, based on recommendations by Shedde, Das, Abraham and the curatorial team of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image’s Mumbai International Film Festival. Some of these films may not have been released commercially yet, but they will be screened at various film festivals as well as special and embassy screenings.
Le Gamin Au Velo (The Kid with a Bike)
This Grand Prix Honor winner at Cannes 2011 was made by the Dardenne brothers. The film is the tale of a boy who clings to a hairdresser caretaker when his father abandons him.
Suggested age group: 12+
Available: Forthcoming film festivals/embassy/film society screenings. To open Sundance 2012 film festival.
Le Havre
This Aki Kaurismaki film won the Fipresci prize at Cannes 2011. It is the story of a shoeshiner, Marcel Marx, who notices an illegal immigrant boy from Gabon escape from the clutches of Inspector Monet. He sets out to help the boy and a comic caper ensues.
Suggested age group: 8+
Available: Forthcoming film festivals/embassy/film society screenings.
Hier Kommt Lola! (Here’s Lola!)
Lola has a Brazilian dad, a mom called Viktualia and a two-year-old aunt. Nine-year-old Lola is terrified of frogs and turns into a pop star every night in her dreams. Her grandmother believes, “Sometimes, life is more fantastical than any dream.” Lola couldn’t agree more.
Suggested age group: All ages
Available: Forthcoming film festivals/embassy/film society screenings.
Krish, Trish & Baltiboy
Krish is a monkey, Trish is a cat and Baltiboy is a donkey. The three minstrels traverse India, discovering an enchanting land of folk music and folk tales. The stories span Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Kerala and use Madhubani art, traditional leather puppetry and miniature paintings, among others, to tell the story.
Suggested age group: All ages
Available: Children’s Film Society screenings
This Kannada film won the National Film Award for Best Children’s Film in 2008. It is about two children—Ila and Anuradha—who feel responsible for a missing sparrow, and set off to find it in the urban jungle.
Suggested age group: All ages
Available: You can request an online screening at http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/552
A list of movies from yesteryear
• ‘Abol Tabol’ (AAAA), ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Bayn’ (1968) and ‘Hirak Rajar Deshe’ (1980) by Satyajit Ray: “If you want to see with what respect Satyajit Ray treated children, watch these,” says Meenakshi Shedde.
Available: BIG Home Video and BigFlix (VCD) rentals—Rs 299 for DVDs and Rs 149 for VCDs.
• ‘Chihiro’ (2001), ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’ (1979), ‘Princess Monokoke’ (1997), ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ (1988) by Hayao Miyazaki: ‘Chihiro’ is an Oscar winner and all Miyazaki films have great values for children.
Available: In Disney Videos on www.amazon.com—$19.99 (around Rs 900); Studio Ghibli films are distributed by Sony Music and Alliance Media and Entertainment in three- and seven-film sets, at Rs 1,499 and Rs 2,999, respectively, in stores countrywide.
• ‘The Fabulous World of Jules Verne’ ( ‘Vynalez Zkazy’) , 1958, by Karel Zaman: The film uses an early animation process called “mysti-mation” to create a retro-punk world of sea creatures, planes and trains.
Available: www.amazon.com —$15.88
• ‘Blinkity Blank’, 1955, by Norman McLaren: Part of Norman McLaren’s collected films, these shorts, each 5-10 minutes long, are fascinating plays of light and shadow set to animation.
Available: www.amazon.com (Norman McLaren’s collected films—$36.99)
• ‘The Emperor’s Nightingale’ , 1951, by Jiri Trnka: “Czech film-maker Jiri Trnka is Europe’s Walt Disney,” says Jugu Abraham.
Available: www.amazon.com (the entire collection—$60)
• ‘The White Balloon’, 1995, by Jafar Panahi: Razieh wants to buy a goldfish and persuades her mother to give her the money. But then she loses the money.
Available: www.amazon.com— $51.99
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First Published: Fri, Jul 01 2011. 07 57 PM IST