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Posts from — May 2010

Selling stars

The popular Hindi film industry is often accused of recycling material, rehashing old stories, copying Hollywood and generally not generating any new innovative material. We can argue over the validity of these claims, but there is something new and wildly interesting that has been brewing in Bollywood for some years now, and that is the manufacturing of stars.

With the internet, social networking and myriad other options, the mapping of stardom has changed over the last few years. Namrata Joshi of Outlook has written about the role of marketing in selling stars and their films. Have a look here.

May 29, 2010   No Comments  

Apichatpong Weerasethekul wins Palme d’Or

Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethekul’s film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Weerasethekul has previously made films like Syndromes and a Century and Letters to Uncle Boonmee. Other winners include Juliette Binoche for Abbas Kiorastami’s Certified Copy, Javier Bardem for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, Elio Germano for Our Life by Daniele Luchetti. The Best Director prize went to Mathieu Amalric for TourneeClick here to access the complete report by New York Times.

May 26, 2010   No Comments  

Is Cannes unfair to women?

Catherine Shoard, the editor of film for The Guardian and Rachel Millward, the director of the Bird’s Eye View festival, entered into a debate on why so few women directors are showcased at the Cannes Film Festival and why they hardly ever win the coveted Palme d’Or. The question at hand is whether the Cannes festival is unfair to women.

Click here to access the conversation between Shoard and Millward published by The Guardian.

May 16, 2010   No Comments  

Mrinal Sen’s Khandar at Cannes 2010

Last year the Cannes Film Festival had proposed a mini-retrospective of the work of celebrated Indian director Mrinal Sen, but because the prints of most of his films were in ‘poor condition’, it never came through.

This year, Sen’s film Khandar has been selected as one of the films that will be screened in the Cannes Classics section of the festival. Films of directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Bunuel and Volker Schlondroff are part of this selection. Sen is expected to be present for this screening.

The National Film Archive in Pune was given a directive by the Prime Minister last year to restore each of Sen’s films. The screening at Cannes has reportedly been made possible because of the successful restoration.

Khandar was made in 1983 and starred Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur and Annu Kapur. I had written a retrospective piece on the film on the occasion of Mrinal Sen getting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in 2008 in New Delhi. Click here to access it.

And while the Indian press seems just thrilled at this recognition India has got at Cannes, not one of them has got the name of the film right. All sites have picked up an agency copy which refers to the film as ‘Kandahar’. They have all retained the English title The Ruins, but no one has managed to put two and two together.

May 3, 2010   4 Comments  

Jafar Panahi still in jail

Celebrated Iranian film director, Jafar Panahi who had made films like The White Balloon, The Circle, Offside among others, was placed under arrest by the Iranian authorities in April 2010.  Despite international pressure to release him, and his wife Tahereh Saeedi’s fear for his health, he continues to be in jail, and according to recent reports has been moved to a smaller cell.

It is a case of life imitating art. There is as yet absolutely no clarity over the reasons for this arrest. It began in February  when Panahi was not given permission to leave the country to attend the Berlinale Film Festival. No reason was quoted officially at the time of the arrest. There have been muffled reasons like he was making an ‘anti-regime’ film which spoke about the events following the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. His wife has denied these claims.

Following growing international pressure, another garbled reason was leaked, claiming that his arrest wasn’t political but he had been “accused of some crimes and arrested with another person following an order by a judge,” (quote from an AFP report). Others have simply stated that he has been arrested because he poses a threat to the country’s security.

The film community from across the world has raised its voice against this unfair arrest. At the moment, support pouring in from Hollywood actors and directors like Martin Scorcese, Ethan and Joel Coen, Robert DeNiro, Michael Moore etc is making the headlines, even though there seems to be no move towards releasing Panahi.

There are also various online petitions doing the rounds. The one endorsed by the family is http://www.petitiononline.com/FJP2310/petition.html

May 3, 2010   2 Comments