Fleurs du Mal (2010, France, directed by David Dusa)
I Am (2011, India, directed by Onir)
Meherjaan (2011, Bangladesh, directed by Rubaiyat Hossain)
Memories of a Burning Tree (2010, Tanzania, directed by Sherman Ong)
Mundane History (2010, Thailand, directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong)
Virgin Goat (2010, India/France, directed by Murali Nair)
Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers of Evil) by Director David Dusa
Capturing the energy and potential of the Internet and social media in an innovative and powerfully visceral way, ambitious drama “Flowers of Evil” organically incorporates YouTube documentation of Iran’s 2009 post-election demonstrations and the government’s brutal reprisals into a tender love story set in Paris.
Premiered at Cannes under the auspices of film directors’ association Acid, this edgy, youth-oriented twohander from notable new filmmaking talent David Dusa has been making the European fest rounds.
An attraction blooms when footloose Parisian hotel clerk Rachid (Rachid Youcef) meets Anahita (Alice Belaidi), a Tehrani college student exiled to the City of Light by overprotective parents who fear her political participation. But
Anahita’s worries over the rapidly unfolding events in her homeland, which she follows obsessively on her computer and smartphone, preventing her from participating wholeheartedly in the relationship.
Helmer/co-writer Dusa uses the Internet as a narrative, structural and emotional tool. From the opening moments, Rachid spends considerable time online, posting videos of his wild, athletic dancing on Facebook, and surfing for information about the world.
As the apolitical Rachid’s knowledge of Iran is shaped through the anonymous YouTube footage and his lover’s response to it, the abstract images are transformed into something intimate and involving for both him and the audience. One of the film’s most exhilarating moments shows Rachid and Anahita on a Parisian rooftop, shouting”Allahu akbar!” in sympathy with the nighttime chants of her compatriots (featured in multiple YouTube clips that went viral).
I Am by Director Onir
I AM is about issues and dilemmas that bruise the modern Indian society. Unravelling and exploring these tribulations, the film unfolds many a tale of individuals struggling to find their identity, and uphold their dignity in a world that is callous, cold and unsympathetic.
Shot in four different cities across India, I AM is a fusion of stories where the protagonists share a common dream – a desire to regain their lives, to regain an identity which has been taken away from them.
I AM AFIA is the story of a single woman who feels her identity will be made whole through the singular feminine experience of motherhood. Unable to trust or even wait for a man, her search is defined – does motherhood necessarily require the burden of a man?
I AM MEGHA is a story of two friends – a Kashmiri Pandit woman and a Muslim woman – separated by conflict. Against the backdrop of the exodus of Hindu’s in Kashmir in early 90’s, it’s a story of loss of home and identity. If your own home rejects you, where do you go and where are you “from”?
I AM ABHIMANYU is the story of a broken man, with a proud mask. Abhimanyu is trapped by the demons of his past, a past of sexual abuse. To move forward he must first go back, into a world where his childhood was stolen from him.
I AM OMAR is a horrific tale of sexual discrimination; blackmail and prejudice is part of the torrid fabric. It reveals how the police use Article 377 (law under Indian Penal code which criminalizes homosexuality) to harass and blackmail gay men. In the current climate of media sensationalism, perhaps this story gains even more poignancy.
Characters move in and out of the stories, thus linking them in terms of content and structure. In all, I AM is about glimpses into the lives of people who often do not know what’s right and very often, do not do the right thing. There is a beauty in simple things, and a dignity in individual struggle – through its stories, I AM reflects the story of everyone.
Meherjaan by Director Rubaiyyat Hossain
During the war in 1971, Meher falls in love with a soldier from the enemy side. When her love is discovered, she is shamed and silenced by her family and her society. Today, 38 years after the war, Meher has a visitor she cannot turn down. Sarah – a ‘war-child’ , Meher’s cousin Neela’s daughter, who was given away for adoption has come back to piece together her past. Together these two women must re-tell history through their stories in order to cut through the stigmas and walk into light.
Memories of a Burning Tree by Director Sherman Ong
Smith comes to Dar es Salaam to tie up some loose ends. He meets Link, a tourist guide, who agrees to help him. Along the way they are offered help by Abdul, a grave digger, and Toatoa, a metal scavenger, who themselves are searching for answers to their own journeys. Their search eventually leads them to realise that this is a never-ending journey of dreams and disappointments. With an ensemble cast of non-professional actors and an improvised script, this film is an homage to the road movie genre, where ultimately the road ends when you want it to end.
Mundane History by Director Anocha Suwichakornpong
Is it possible to live in an eternal present, without a past or future? This is one of the questions posed by MUNDANE HISTORY. A deceptively simple narrative that tells the story of a paralyzed invalid and his nurse, the film ultimately becomes a meditation on our insignificant, yet sublime, place in the universe. Through the filmmaker’s lens we learn about Ake, a bitter paraplegic who lost the use of his legs after an accident. Pun is his newly appointed male nurse, a recognizably human character who seems to be content with life. Ake’s depression is aggravated by his elusive, authoritarian father whose cold demeanor is in part responsible for Ake’s inability to connect with other people. But as Ake and Pun initiate discussions of their perspectives on life, Ake begins to open up and soften his outlook on his own existence. Eventually, Ake’s cynicism fades and his relationship with Pun intensifies. A simple, yet abstract psychological drama, MUNDANE HISTORY will carry you on its gradual existential journey to a conclusion that will leave you shaken and deeply affected. (In Thai with subtitles) – M.M.
Virgin Goat by Director Murali Nair
Kalyan, a middle-aged farmer, loves his goat Laila more than anything in life, including his bickering wife and his good-for-nothing son. The last remaining animal of a lineage that stretches back 500 years, to a flock bestowed on his ancestors by the King, Laila will not produce any kids.
Finally, after a visit to a dodgy-looking veterinarian, Laila appears to go into heat, and Kalyan sets off with her across the city to a waiting billy goat. However a high-ranking politician is planning a major rally on that day, and the police begin blocking off the roads.
Without a doubt Virgin Goat’s biggest asset is the charismatic performance by lead actor Raghubir Yadav, who instils the character of Kalyan with enough life and charm to immediately pull viewers into his plight. The screenplay keeps him constantly agitated and moving, and especially in the film’s first half his exploits and encounters with various outlandish characters is funny and engaging.