The 8th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, which began on 4 December in Mumbai, has Egypt as its “Country in Focus”.
Third Eye is screening over a hundred feature and short films from 24 Asian countries. But the highlights of this year’s edition are the seven contemporary Egyptian films—Khaltet Fawzeya (Fawzia’s Secret Recipe), Awqat Faragh (Leisure Time), Mowaten we Mokhber we Haramy (A Citizen, a Detective and a Thief), Heena Maysara (Until Things Get Better), Al-Saher (The Magician), Ahla al Awkat (The Best of Times), and One-Zero (see plot summaries below). Each of these films has received rave reviews at various film festivals. A bonus for film buffs will be the presence of a 10-member delegation of directors, producers and actors of the budding Egyptian arthouse cinema.
As in all other film festivals this year, the rage remains new Marathi films. Harishchandrachi Factory’s director Paresh Mokashi was felicitated at the opening ceremony on 4 December. Other not-to-miss Marathi films by newcomers are Satish Manwar’s Gabhricha Paus, Ravi Jadhav’s Natarang, Umesh Kulkarni’s Vihir and Sachin Kundalkar’s Gandh.
Still from the Malayasian film Waiting For Love which will be screened at 11pm on 8 December at Rangaswar and 3.45pm on 9 December at Plaza Mini Theatre.
It’s a mixed bag when it comes to films from other regional languages. You may want to catch the mind-boggling Houseful (Bengali) by Bappaditya Bandopadhyay and A Climate for Crime (Malayalam) by veteran Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Houseful is about the idiosyncratic ways of a film director who finds that the story of his last film, a flop, is being replicated in real life. A Climate for Crime, on the other hand, is a patchwork of four short stories by writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai.
Madholal Keep Walking by debutant Jai Tank is for those who prefer a simple film-viewing experience. It is the story of a lower-middle class man trying to cope with fear after being handicapped in the Mumbai train blasts of 2006. Though not cinematically brilliant, the film is an honest and convincing story about terrorism.
Interestingly, the festival is being simultaneously organized in Kolhapur, with fewer films.
Egyptian films to watch out for:
Khaltet Fawzeya (Fawzia’s Secret Recipe)
Director: Magdi Ahmad Ali
Synopsis: Married five times, Fawzeya is a vibrant, optimistic woman even though she lives in a slum. She maintains a warm relationship with her ex-husbands and dines with each once a week. The film explores the relationship Fawzeya and her children share with her ex-husbands and life in an Egyptian slum.
Still from Madholal Keep Walking, which will be screened at 10:30am on 8 December at Plaza Cinema
When: 10.30am on 10 December at Plaza Cinema
Awqat Faragh (Leisure Time)
Director: Mohammed Moustafa
Synopsis: Four college students spend their time chasing girls and dope, turning a blind eye to the high expectations their families have of them. The film is an un-opinionated take on the unanswerable question—“What to do?”—that daunts these boys who have too much time on their hands.
When: 10.30am on 9 December at Plaza Cinema
Mowaten we Mokhber we Haramy (A Citizen, a Detective and a Thief)
Director: Daoud Abdel Sayed
Synopsis: A successful writer bumps into an acquaintance who is a detective. The detective makes the writer hire a maid whose husband is a thief. The lives of these four people get intertwined in this brilliant comic-drama.
When: 8.30pm on 9 December at Plaza Cinema
Heena Maysara (Until Things Get Better)
Director: Khaled Youssef
Synopsis: The film revolves around the lives of two lesbians in a poverty-stricken slum in Egypt.
When: 3.30pm on 10 December at Plaza Cinema
Al-Saher (The Magician)
Director: Radwan El Kashef
Synopsis: A magician quits his job after his wife’s death. He leads a dull life and is worried about his daughter, who is in love with their neighbour. Yet, he goes around trying to make others happy with his tricks. A touching portrait of a poor man’s struggle to find joy in a troubled life.
When: 8.30pm on 7 December at Chavan Centre
Ahla al Awkat (The Best of Times)
Director: Hala Khalil
Synopsis: A middle-aged woman goes to live with her stepfather after her mother’s death. She starts receiving letters and packages from an unknown sender. One package contains a childhood photograph of the woman and her two friends whom she has not met for 14 years. She tracks down her friends and the three try to find the mysterious sender.
When: 11am on 8 December at Chavan Centre and 6pm on 9 December at Plaza Cinema
Director: Kamla Abu Zekri
Synopsis: The film tracks the lives of eight women on the day of the final of a football match.
When: 11pm on 9 December at Chavan Centre
Third Eye Asian Film Festival is being held from 3-11 December. The screenings are at four venues: Plaza Cinema, Plaza Mini Theatre, YB Chavan Centre Auditorium and Chavan Digital Theatre (also known as Rangaswar). Passes, available at the theatres, cost Rs400 per person for the entire festival. Students and members of film societies can get a discount and buy for Rs250. Click here for the entire schedule