Heady fest of crime, gangsters, their molls

Cinematic treat

Film buffs in the city can look forward to a festival celebrating the classic genre of ‘Film Noir.’ The American Center, in collaboration with Cinedarbaar, is screening eight specially curated Hollywood movies from the period of early 1940s to late 1950s. 

Taking off from the greatest crime fiction novels ever written, these romanticise the idea of private detectives, gangsters, killers and dangerous beauties. 

The festival will be held from May 8-10 at the American Center, Kasturba Gandi Marg. It’s a perfect treat for inquisitive minds.

The term Film Noir, French for ‘black film’, was first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946. Cinema historians defined the category retrospectively. This genre is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories of classic noir derive from the hardboiled-school of crime fiction that emerged in US during the Great Depression.

Film noir encompasses a range of plots: the central figure may be a private eye (The Big Sleep), a plainclothes policeman (The Big Heat), an aging boxer (The Set-Up), a hapless grifter (Night and the City), a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime (Gun Crazy), or simply a victim of circumstance (D.O.A.). However, elements like guns, cigarettes, hats, femme fatales with sensual makeup and plunging necklines, mixing drinks with their gangster beaus, have formed a staple of this typical movie variety. 

The festival at American Centre will open with Double Indemnity, a 1944 crime drama directed by Billy Wilder which was nominated for seven Oscars. Others include The Killers (1946) loosely based on a short story by Ernest Hemmingway, The Lady from Shanghai (1947) directed by the auteur Orson Welles, Thieves Highway (1949) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955) based on novels by AI Bezzerides. In a lonely Place (1950) directed by Nicholas Ray, to be screened on May 10, is considered a noir classic. 

Neo-Noir films such as Blade Runner (1982) - the popular sci-fi thriller noir film - and LA Confidential (1997) - an adaptation known to give a true depiction of LA - will also be screened at the fest. Neo-noir films establish a much more frightening and grim reality than what was established in the noir films of the 1940s and 1950s.

Film screenings will also be followed by interactive sessions on such topics as important techniques of noir and auteurs of this genre. Quizzes will complete the thrilling cinematic experience. Winners will also get full-size film posters. 

To request an invitation, e-mail at info.cinedarbaar@gmail.com or collect passes from the American Center prior to the event. Make sure to carry a valid photo ID to enter American Center. 

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