Films that lit up IFFI this year

Films that lit up IFFI this year

Showtime takes a look at artistes and movies that impressed cinephiles and won big at India’s premier film festival in Goa, writes Jayjee

‘Ring Wandering’ clinched the Best Film award while Marí Alessandrini’s ‘Zahori’ (down) won the Best Debut film award.

The 52nd IFFI (International Film Festival of India) concluded on Sunday in Goa with the Japanese film ‘Ring Wandering’ bagging the Golden Peacock award for the Best film. The truly deserving film by Mazakazu Kaneko is about the life of a Manga artist writing about extinct Japanese wolves.

Portraying this exotic theme, the film travels between fantasy and reality, often merging the two. The final treatment could be called Tarkovoskian (following the Andrei Tarkovsky school of thought) in nature, especially apparent in the last shot of the film — where the entire journey and the quest ends up in the head of the wolf.

The Best Director award went to Valclav Kadrnka from Czeck Republic for his brilliant portrayal of human relations in ‘Saving One Who Was Dead’. In the movie, a mother and son are coping with the man in coma, who is the husband and the father respectively of the duo.

The film brings back memories of the east European films of yore which dealt with spirituality. The small gestures at the hospital and the environment takes the viewer to a space which is forbidden yet only the resurrected can return as life cuddles up with death. In the Covid-world, the film touches a familiar chord — the way most of us saw life and death in a close tangle at the peak of the pandemic.

Angela Molina was awarded the Best Actress for portraying a screen diva of yesteryear. The veteran performer is the main protagonist in ‘Charlotte’. Molina takes you with her in the journey of a veteran star trying to make a comeback as she hears the news about her favourite director returning to a make a film which was promised to her many years ago.

The Best Actor award went to Jitendra Joshi for his performance in ‘Godavari’, directed by Nikhil Mahajan. The film showcases a man’s inner quest to preserve tradition and culture, inspired and triggered by his relationship with the river Godavari.

Mahajan also shared the Silver Peacock for the Special Jury Award with Brazilian actor Reneta Carvalho for the film ‘The First Fallen’, by Portuguese filmmaker Rodrigo de Oliveira.

Roman Vasyanov’s film ‘Dorm’, rightly won the Special Mention honours. In the film, the corrupt system runs a student dormitory. The student members of the dorm are all tightly bonded. A female student commits suicide and that triggers anger and turbulence through the dormitory. The chain of events put their love and friendship to test.

‘Zahori’, the Best Debut film made by Marí Alessandrini, leaves a mark. Zahorí is a moving story of a teen rebel and introspection in the canvas of the stark yet beautiful landscape of the Patagonia plains. Thirteen-year-old Mora with her little brother Himeko and her ecologist parents attempt to raise a farm. A recluse at school and at odds with her parents, Mora befriends her elderly Mapuche neighbour, Nazareno, who has lost his horse Zahorí. Mora travels into the desert in search of Zahorí and thus begins her personal journey of discovery.

The retrospectives of Bela`Tarr, Istvan Szavo and Alexander Konchalvsky, impressed the cinephiles. This year’s films were of high quality, especially in the world cinema section. Another unique aspect of the festival was its hybrid form as films from OTT platforms were screened.

(The writer is a filmmaker with a keen interest in critical appreciation of films).