Waiting for almost 45 minutes to catch a film became a norm for me at the 11th Bengaluru International Film Festival that began on February 22. Incidentally, all the films that I managed to catch, after standing in long queues, were Iranian — also the focus country of this year’s BIFFes. Apart from large crowds, Iranian cinema also evoked curiosity in the audience.
The films touched a variety of themes and not one seemed repetitive. During my ‘screen-hopping’, I happened to meet fellow film-lovers, which helped me widen my understanding of the genre’s reception.
At the gates of the hall screening ‘Dressage’, a fellow movie-goer struck up a conversation with me. “Movies from Iran are so awesome. I watched ‘Yellow’ and fell in love with it,” the young software professional said.
His love for Iranian cinema was reaffirmed at the end of this particular film. “Did you see how they portrayed such a deep theme with no long speech or sermon?” he commented after the film ended.
‘Dressage’, directed by Pooya Badkoobeh, is about a teenager who resists power and money after a misadventure with her rich friends. Though some of the audience did not understand the motive behind the protagonist’s actions, they began empathising with her as the film progressed.
“I found the girl annoying. She was a rebel without a cause,” said Divya, a student, about Golsa, the lead actor in the film. Divya regretted missing ‘Dogman’ for ‘Dressage’ but added, “Watching a film from across the border is a great experience. At least we realise that all girls around the world suffer due to patriarchy.”
That’s just the beauty of film festivals like BIFFes — they help the audience engage in conversations and make the piece of cinema an agent of change. Just like how the audience watched ‘Hattrick’ and commented on the relationships portrayed in the film.
“I think we all face the same problems. The same trust issues, miscommunication, hypocrisy and a need to be accepted for who we are. What better than cinema to tell us how similiar we are,” Niranjana Kumar, a home-maker commented.
“I know one thinks films at such festivals have to be slow-paced, deep, and have a message. But ‘Hattrick’, though it had a serious message, was also fun and engaging. I am glad I braved a long line to watch this,” Niranjana said, who was looking forward to watching ‘Bomb’, an Iranian love story directed by Paymaan Maadi.
‘Bomb: A Love Story’ is a story of human emotions during the Iran-Iraq war; a film about two love stories and the scars of war. “We have such a shallow understanding about war, love and life. This film opened my eyes. While I crib about my everyday troubles, there are people who are trying to pick up pieces of a normal life amidst war,” said Susan, a literature student.
There were several other films from Iran that attracted a large audience. Like ‘Hot Scent’, directed by Ali Ebrahimi, that talks about generation gap and the dynamics between strict parents and a young daughter.
The closing film, ‘Tale of the Sea’, also generated a lot of buzz. “I might never travel to Iran in this lifetime. But the films that I watched gave me a glimpse of all the similarities of our cultures and understanding of life,” said Shruti, a communications executive.
With that, we ended the last day at the BIFFes with a hope to travel to another exotic destination next year with some more masterful pieces of cinema.