Don’t let the title fool you. The Naya Cinema film festival, which will run in Mumbai from 22-25 November, will mostly screen classics rather than new films. The oldest title, French director Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise, dates back to 1945. The only three new films are all Indian: experimental film-maker Amit Dutta’s feature Sonchidi, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, Nainsukh, his documentary about the 18th century Pahari painter, and Anand Gandhi’s debut movie, Ship of Theseus, which made its Indian landing at the Mumbai Film Festival in October.
The films that will be shown at Naya Cinema may not be new but they represent “newness”, says Pranav Ashar, CEO of the Enlighten media group, which has been organizing the festival since 2010. “The festival is not about the latest cinema, but about films that have defined the language of cinema in special ways,” Ashar says. The list contains some of the greatest names in world cinema, which more than makes up for the lack of new fare. It includes Robert Bresson’s austere yet deeply moving films The Trial of Joan of Arc (22 November, 1.30pm) and Pickpocket (22 November, noon).
Yasujiro Ozu, the Japanese master, has two films at Naya Cinema: Tokyo Story and Late Spring . The films, deeply affecting dramas about ordinary families in post-War Japan, are not being shown in the sequence in which they were made: Tokyo Story, made in 1953, will be shown on 23 November at noon, followed by Late Spring, released in 1949, at 3pm.
Every day of the festival brings up more than one cinematic gem. On 23 November, there is Henri-Georges Clouzot’s gorgeous thriller Les Diaboliques (5pm), Michael Powell’s still disturbing Peeping Tom (7pm) , about a murderous photographer who kills women and then films them, and Roman Polanski’s horror movie Repulsion (9pm). On 24 November, settle down for Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (noon), his visually stunning interpretation of the Orpheus myth, and Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout (8.30pm), about two British children abandoned in the Australian outback.
Further wonders are lined up on 25 November: There is Children of Paradise (11am), about the love of four men for a courtesan, David Cronenberg’s science fiction horror film Videodrome (2.15pm) and Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (4pm), a one-take costume drama by the celebrated Russian director. The festival closes with Ship of Theseus (6pm), Gandhi’s accomplished debut linking together stories of a blind photographer, a monk and a stockbroker.
The films will be shown at the 270-seater Russian Centre for Science and Culture on Peddar Road, which has previously hosted special screenings of films by Andrei Tarkovsky and Alfred Hitchcock. Enlighten, which also runs a membership-based film club and distributes DVDs, has found the centre to be popular despite its inconvenient location. “The Russian cultural centre has given us a new lease of life,” Ashar says. One reason the crowds have flocked to the screenings at the centre is that the programming is better considered than in the past. “Our audiences had not been growing for some time, and we realized that the programming had become too mainstream,” Ashar says. “Audiences really want to see honest and pure curation. We got our focus on cinematic theory, form, language and ideas, which has paid off.
Those who cannot trek to Peddar Road can watch Naya Cinema’s films on their computer screens. For Rs.599, you can watch the films both online and offline on the website www.cineoo.com , says Ashar. For Rs.299, you can watch all the films on the website during the festival. The pay-for-view site, which will allow subscribers to download films for a fee, will become fully operational with many more films on 12 December.
But Enlighten isn’t letting go of its offline business. It will continue to distribute DVDs and occasionally release films in theatres, starting with a re-release of the Charlie Chaplin classic Modern Times in January. “It’s all about building an ecosystem,” Ashar explains.
For the full schedule and details, visit www.enlighten.co.in