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At the Biffes (Bengaluru International Film Festival) 2009:

Day One:

Bahman Ghobadi’s Half-Moon

An old, legendary musician collects his entourage of sons and a plucky bus-driver to drive across Iranian Kurdistan into Iraqi Kurdistan for a special musical performance. Despite the many “clearances” he has received from the governments, this journey proves to be doomed from the start.

An audio lapse in the beginning and brief black-out apart, the screening at Vision Cinemas was fairly good. Very few mobiles went off. Very few people talked.

A slightly different Iranian film for a change with seemingly more accomplished actors and with music as a basic premise, Half-Moon is a very good film.

Priyadarshan’s Kanchivaram

Prakash Rai acts in this film and he came introducing it. It was jam-packed at Vision Cinemas. There was no seat left and the aisles were getting crowded as well. This Tamil film started as if Priyadarshan continued working with the sets from his own Kalapani. Someone requested me to vacate my seat for an old lady. I was keen enough. And since there was no place to stand either, I walked out.

Wonder if films like these are collected over a month or two and screened as part of a festival, one can expect such crowd. There is no way these many people would have come had it been a regular screening of this movie.

Documentaries:

There were two that I saw. 16mm-Memories, Movements and a Machine was about the film society movement that started in Kerala in the 1960s. Made by K.R. Manoj, it was a very interesting subject indeed and the interviews of various people involved in these societies added great depth to the documentary. But I wish there hadn’t been as much of things other than that. When these men talked, it was riveting. Everything else felt unnecessary.

The second one was an utterly unimaginative documentary on Rajkumar. Directed by Maya Chandra, Dr. Rajkumar – Analysis of a Phenomenon, does no justice to the potential of the subject. It more or less works like a flowchart without rhombuses. Why on earth anyone would want Ramesh Arvind to narrate in English is baffling! He is ill at ease in a language so pretentious for the subject. Subtitles would have done.

The only reason why you’d watch this would be for Annavru’s songs that get played one after the other. Come to think of it, had the 40 minutes of the docu been a string of his songs one after the other, it would have been worth it. Sad, but really bad!

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