Mumbai Film Festival: Day 2 highlights

The contrasting delights of ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ and ‘After the Storm’

A still from ‘Man with a Movie Camera’.
A still from ‘Man with a Movie Camera’.

A deadbeat detective who wants to be a better dad, a construction worker who dreams of America and a 1929 city symphony with a live orchestra, all on day two.

After the Storm

One of the few certainties of cinema today is that Hirokazu Koreeda will turn up every odd year with a beautifully observed, deceptively simple masterpiece. The latest from the Japanese director is After the Storm, which screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival. Ryota, a writer whose first novel won a prestigious award 15 years ago, is divorced and living with his ageing mother. He bets heavily on horses and the lottery, works for a detective agency (only for research, he insists, though he doesn’t seem to be doing much writing) and sees his son once a month. With the minimum of fuss, Koreeda transforms Ryota’s foibles and his stymied efforts to become a more responsible human into something funny and moving and sad.

Also Read: Mumbai Film Festival: Day 1 highlights

Diamond Island

Cambodian director Davy Chou’s first feature-length fiction film is a languid mood piece set in an under-construction luxury township on the outskirts of Phenom Penh. A group of teenagers work as manual labour by day and cruise the swanky, underpopulated, neon-lit streets of Diamond Island at night. One of them, Bora, meets his elder brothers after years of not hearing from him; soon, he’s being shown dreams of travel and money. There’s not much by way of plot but as a sensory experience the film is stunning – in particular, the hard, bright cinematography of Thomas Favel.

Man with a Movie Camera

The crazy ideas in Man with a Movie Camera find the perfect companion in the live jazz quartet that performed with the screening of the film on Saturday at the Mumbai Film Festival. In his seminal, experimental, silent documentary from 1929, Dziga Vertov takes the cumbersome camera of the time to the farthest corners of its possibilities: underneath a speeding train, on the edge of a giant dam, non-stop wheels of the factory machines, showing the classical human body of the athlete expressing itself mid-air or simple beauty of a tree rustled by a gentle breeze.

Employing nearly all the visual trickeries known to film — stop motion animation, slow motion, fast motion, superimposition, Vertov, with great help from his brother and cinematographer Mikhail Kaufman and his wife editor Elizaveta Svilova creates a hypnotic montage of daily life in Soviet cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa. The film is a part of the old restored classics being shown this year at the Mumbai film Festival. But only the first screening, that took place on Saturday, was accompanied with live music; the film has had many live music soundtracks over the decades.With a free-form accompaniment of guitar, drums, bass and saxophone, it turned out to be a surreal audio-visual trip.

The musical group — led by the Ukrainian guitarist and composer Vitaliy Tkachuk — half submerged in the dark, their backs to the audience and facing the big screen, played to the gallery in a different sort of a way. They performed themes from the score even as they improvised drawing from the audience energy. It led to such euphoric, unique reactions from the packed theatre, most of who would have never seen anything like this before. It played out like a magic show for cinephiles whose manner of appreciation resembled that of a Jazz buff during a Zakir Hussain concert.Live music with silent movie screenings are a rare event in India and it has been one of the best surprises of this year’s edition

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