By Dipok Sarma
As usual in October the filmgoers of Oslo had the opportunity to watch the multicultural films from Asia, Africa , Latin America . thanks to the organizers of the 26th Film From The South Festival. This time there were several added attractions.
This year the opening film was from South Korea, a film called "The Handmaiden", based on the feminist English novelist Sarah Water's Fingersmith. The novel deals with women pickpockets of the Victorian England era. Here the well-known South Korean film director Park Chan-wook set her film in Japanese occupied Korea. The film is a thriller about love and revange And the women and sex played roles as driving forces of the incidents. The film scenes are beautifully and adroitly made. Truly an unforgettable film.
A Japanese film by the master director Koreeda was one of the highlights of the 26th Film From The South Festival. A novelist in his forties who had not produced any work after 15 years of his first publication and who inherited a gambling habit from his father Therefore, to compensate his income he does some part time job as a private detective. His separated wife met a good man and now she threatened him to stop his visiting time with his young son unless he contribute to his son's expanses. Then, it so happened that once again a Tokyo storm threatened the city dwellers. His ex-wife and son took shelter in his mother's house. There is a lot of symbolism in the film that is well made. In sum a well-crafted film of contemporary social life in Japan.
"Fire At Sea" is a very interesting and picturesque documentary film about the refugee crisis in Europe which
won the Golden-Bear in the Berlin film festival. The title of the film is taken from a popular song of Second World War. The film depicts refugees from the Middle-east and Africa arriving in boats to Europe and they are received at Lampedusa, an Italian island situated near Tunisia and Libya. The film showed the peaceful life of the inhabitants. Then we see the scene of arrival of a small boat with distresed refugees and some of them were dead. Thereupon EU officials do the needful. We also see that the island dwellers were not much affected by the arrival
of the refugees. Then we see another scene where the newcomers are adjusted to the new environment. They are cheerfully playing football.
Other attractions this time were five films of the master film director Abbas Kiarostrami who died last year. In fact Kiarostrami is not new to the filmgoers of Oslo. In 2006 Kiarostrami was a guest of Film From The South Festival. One of our editors, Avanti Flatabø, interviewed him. It was published in Ragtime. It is really wonderful to watch Kiarostrami films where you find no 'visual waste'. And one main characteristic of his films is the principal character of a film is constantly on the move, either driving a car or walking. In the festival we saw a hitherto unscreened film called "Through The Olive Trees" which equally bears the typical marks of the master film-maker.
And another showing was "Liberation Day", a film by the former Yugoslavian cultural band called Laibech. The concert they played in Pyongyang, the capital of the world's most isolated land in the 21st century was the first alternative rock concert delivered to the North Koreans. Another attraction in the film is the well-known philosopher Salvoj Zizeck's short speech about the film. All the members of the group was present at the Vika cinema hall and answered questions from the audience. Seldom have we observed such a enthusiasm from the audience about Laibech and Pyongyoung.
"Old Stones" is a film from China that deals with the corruption in today's China. A motor accident caused by a taxidriver who is honest enough to take the wounded unconscious motorcyclist to the hospital. His honesty harmed him because the wounded man went into a coma and he had to bear the hospital expenses. In fact, this accident was caused by a drunken passenger at the time. The police, however, did not accept this fact. Eventually, he found out the passenger whose mobile i-phone was with him. He met the man and gave back his costly i-phone. The driver requested him to make a statement about what happened truly. But the man adamently refused and threw him out. He lost hope and had a nervous breakdown. The film was duly celebrated in the Berlin film festival this year.
"The Clan" or in Spanish "El Clan" is a film from Argentina. The film is set in early 1980s, a time just after the fearful rule of Military dictatorship. A ordinary middle-class family of seven called Puccio appeared outwardly like any other family, yet they are engaged with kidnapping of the people for the clandestine military dictators. Eventually they will be found out by the police. Their eldest son died while trying to escape from the police. This hair-raising and horrible story is based on a true story.
Another film from Argentina called "I Marrried A Dumbass" is a well-crafted film about a love that happened between two main film actors. The man is a superstar but the girl is not. But she fell for him during film shooting. The girl actor knows well that she did not fall for the man but for the character of the film. They are about to separate, yet something came up that keep them united. A very adroitly made film that is very entertaining.
A Tunisian film Hedi reflects the dilemma of the modern young man to choose his bride between two women, one his betroth girl and the other is the one he met at a hotel during his travel as a salesman of automoblile. The film won the Silverbear award at the Berlin film festival.
"Sonita" is a film jointly produced by Iran, Germany and Switzerland. A teen-aged Afghan girl called Sonita lives in Iran as illigal immigrant has very little hope for her aspiration to be a rap-star. The society in Iran is seen as no better than that of Afghanistan, They are also patriarchial and inimical to woman. Nevertheless, Sonita refused to be played into their hands. She sent out her compositions, her rap songs via internet. And one day she gets response from USA. She is invited there. A success story of a young ambitious girl makes for an interesting film.
"Tanna" is a film based on a true story from 1987. A Shakesperian tragedy of Romeo & Juliet. Venezuela and Australia has jointly produced the beautiful and picturesque film. A young boy and a girl loved each other and they belonged to a Australian aboriginal clan. They went against the will of their clan leader and left the clan remained hidden near the active, though not violent, volcano. Although they got shelter in the Christian aboriginal society, they fled from them. At last, they committed suicide. The film is very nicely produced with a background of the active volcano on the one hand and the natural scenes of a waterfall. We get a glimpse of their unique existence in the midst of nature. Seeing the film is an unique experience. Last year the film was awarded the People's award at Venice film festival.
"Desierto" is a joint production of Mexico and France on illegal Mexican workers who try to enter USA and confront the brutal racist right-wing white American private guard equipped with rifle and a killer dog. The film shows how brutally the white US private guard is hunting and killing the Mexicans. He even uses his killer dog. A highly suspense film created by the director Jonas Cuarons. The hilly tracts through which the Mexicans are trying to escape created more suspense and excitement of the audience. But at last when everybody died, save a young Mexican and a young woman who was unable to walk, the young man took revenge by cleverly killing the killer dog with a Mexican gun which he discovered and then overpowered the racist guard. The last scene shows how the young Mexican for the time being free from all adverseries took the young sick woman on his shoulder and start going towards the US border. Undoubtedly gladdening the heart of the audience. A thoughtful film in these Trump-times.
Another Mexican film of the year is" A Monster With A Thousand Heads". The film clearly shows how far a woman can go to rectify the country's complicated health system to get immediate medical help to her seriously ailing husband. She even took the method of terrorising people. An interesting film from the film director Rodrigo Pio.
"Don't Call Me Son" is a thrilling film from Brazil about a seventeen year old boy who lives with his mother and little sister. He is also a transvestite who so long lived a happy-go-lucky fashion of life. Then one day the police told the family that the boy was not their biological son. He was stolen as a new born baby. This incident thereafter a problem of his sense of belonging.