Film festival

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl featurette: ‘This is Where We Explain The Story’

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is a uniquely funny and moving story about Greg, a high school senior who avoids deep human relationships as a way to safely navigate the social mine field that is teenage life. In fact he describes his best friend Earl, with whom he makes short-film parodies of classic movies, as being ‘more like a co-worker’. But when Greg’s mum insists he spends time with Rachel – a girl in his class who has just been diagnosed with cancer- Greg discovers just how powerful and important true friendship can be.

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl Poster

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Cast: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, R.J. Cyler with Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal and Connie Britton

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl releases into UK cinemas 4 September 2015.

 

Haraamkhor (The Wretched) Review LIFF 2015

Haraamkhor is exactly the kind of film one hopes to see at a film festival – a film that pushes the envelope, has been made with care and attention and has lots of soul. Keeping a packed audience engaged throughout, the cosmos built by Haraamkhor instantly felt very real and three dimensional.

The story focuses on a love affair between a married teacher Shyam (Siddiqui) and his student Sandhya (Tripathi) as viewed by two of her mischevious male classmates Mintu and Kamal. Kamal is also madly in love with Sandhya and seeks Mintu’s advice on how to woo her. As the story takes an inevitable turn, the fall-out from it has varying consequences for all the characters.

Sharma guides the story with a steady hand so that the focus of the story remains on the relationship between the teacher and the student. What makes this seemingly familiar story so unique is the absence of any judgement so that the audience can make their own minds up – we see for ourselves how Shyam manipulates Sandhya as well as his wife and how his world falls apart when those around him don’t subscribe to his patriarchal thinking. I also loved the way in which the script manages to empathise with the anatagonists as well as the protagonist – we feel for Sandhya who is abandoned by her mother and is clearly in need of companionship but then we also find we cannot entirely hate Shyam (who on paper is incredibly unlikeable) and I also liked how the viewer mirrors Sandhya’s journey and learn to trust Sandhya’s future step mother (who turns out to be her saviour and friend she has needed all along).

It should be no surprise that Siddiqui turns in a stellar performance as Shyam – to play a paedophile sympathetically really demonstrates his strength as an actor and the way he can summon emotions almost at will and heighten or downplay any scene is simply amazing. Shweta Tripathi is excellent as Sandhya, giving her a vulnerability and innocence that immediately endears the viewer and makes one root for her throughout. The chemistry between Siddiqui and Tripathi is electric and really does elevate the script further. I absolutely loved Mohd Samad and Irfan Khan (not that one!) as Mintu and Kamal – both are refreshingly natural and play their roles with panache and gumption that entertains the audience but also gives the film some much needed balance from the darker moments of Haraamkhor (of which there are many). I also loved Shyam’s wife and Sandhya’s step mother who underplay their roles with skill and compassion.

Haraamkhor was without doubt my favourite film at the London Indian Film Festival 2015 – it is a film that manages to encapsulate a vast canvas without losing any of its quality or vision. I loved how it kept my attention throughout and I also have to praise the cinematography which really comes into its own in key scenes. Like all good independent Indian cinema, Haraam Khor has a universality to it so that it can be watched the world over and resonate across the board but also have local meaning too. I really hope this film gets a worldwide release as it will be loved not only by lovers of World Cinema but fans of great cinema too. Recommended.

Haraam Khor (The Wretched)

Directed by: Shlok Sharma

Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shweta Tripathi, Mohd Samad, Irfan Khan

 

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

LIFF 2014 Top Picks The Upodcast team

One of the best UK Indian Film Festivals is upon us again from the 10th to 17th of July.

And since there are a ton of films on offer we roped in some old friends and new to help cover some of the exciting movies showcased.

Here are some of the ones we are really looking forward to and hope to watch/review for you.

Sujoy – @9e3k

SOLD

Opening a film festival has its own pros and cons. Doing the honours this year is SOLD. Directed by Jeffrey Brown, it stars Gillian Anderson amongst other known names from the Indian film industry. The synopsis leads us to believe that it is going to be a powerful movie with a heart-breaking story. It remains to be seen if it can deliver on its promise.L014_NUN_PR

HEMALKASA

Closing the festival is Samruddhi Porey’s Hemalkasa. Starring Marathi cinema’s finest – Nana Patekar, Sonali Kulkarni, Mohan Agashe – the cast itself should be reason enough to lure the audience into the cinema. Revolving around the story of rural development in Maharashtra, I hope Hemalkasa is able to pull the heartstrings of its audience.

Hank And Asha – As the title suggests, Hank And Asha is about the two of them. Judging by its recent Slamdance Audience Award could well be the indie romance movie that you should check out this year.

Barefoot to Goa – Director Praveen Morchhale’s festival darling finally finds its way to LIFF. Set between Mumbai and Goa, the story is a very conventional one that speaks of the bond between grandchildren and grandparents. It is quite inexplicable why this is one of the highlights of LIFF for me. Soon, I’ll let you know why.

Barefoot to Goa – Film Trailer with english Subtitle. from Praveen Morchhale on Vimeo.

Sulemaani Keeda

Everything about this movie screams PRETENTIOUS. When you throw in keywords such as suburban Mumbai underbelly, Tarkovsky, Bollywood – it just comes with a baggage of its own. That is also one of the key reasons why I look forward to this movie. And I wish to be completely corrected on my assumption.

Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya – The characters of Goopi and Bagha is not unknown to anyone who has grown up on Satyajit Ray’s cinema. The story of this mischievious duo, previously immortalised by the fantastic Tapen Chatterjee and Robi Ghosh, is now being adapted into a Hindi animated feature. I have great expectations from this version of the magical world of Goopi and Baagha’s adventure.

Sulemani Keeda_01

Ulidavaru Kandante

This movie’s promotional image has men with painted tigers on their face. And the synopsis speaks of the film’s homages to Sin City, Pulp Fiction, Agneepath, Rashomon. Two words – Must Watch, or could be one word – Oversell.

 

Qissa

Festival favourite Irrfan Khan stars in this period piece set during the Partition period. And Tilottama Shome stars too. The story could be a cross between Dil Bole Hadippa and Boys Don’t Cry. And I could be horribly wrong.

Apur Panchali: Not just Ray references, but a whole movie about the actor who acted as protagonist Apu in Pather Panchali. This stars Parambrata Chatterjee, and is directed by Kaushik Ganguly (Arekti Premer Golpo, Shabdo). Sounds like nectar for Ray lovers.

Qissa_01

 

Bhushan- @Bogeyno2

Qissa
Irfan Khan in anything is worth watching (Paan Singh Tomar,The Lunchbox) and Qissa should be no exception. With a flair for making even the most unpleasant of characters seem human (Saat Khoon Maaf anyone?) Khan looks certain to bring another dimension to Umber Singh in a complex role. Much like Khamosh Paani, films on partition tend to make for challenging yet compelling viewing and Qissa looks set to deliver the same.

QISSA – The Tale of a lonely Ghost – Trailer from Heimatfilm on Vimeo.

Million Dollar Arm
As Bollywood and Hollywood look for that elusive pan market breakout film, Million Dollar Arm strikes one as a film that will appeal to a universal audience without trying too hard (a key feature of all the films featured in the London Indian Film Festival). With an interesting cast headed by Jon Hamm and based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm on paper has all the trademarks of a sleeper hit in the making.

 

Asim- @asimburney 

Sold

I am expecting heartbreak from the opening movie of this year’s LIFF produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson, the movie is about “A girl risks everything for freedom after being trafficked from her mountain village in Nepal to a brothel in India.” Director Jeffrey Brown hasn’t directed many feature length movies and is mostly known for his work as a writer and TV director but the names attached and the sincerity to make a movie that has something important to say can not be denied. I will be bringing a box of tissues with me but do hope that we wont be starting the festival by exiting the theater bummed out.

But since there is a live Q&A with actress Gillian Anderson attending maybe I can sneak in some questions about Hannibal season 3 or what profound influence she had on a generation of men growing up and tuning into the X files every week.

Qissa:

Another female issue based film about “Umber Singh, a rural Sikh, dispossessed from his homeland by the Partition. He obsessively focuses on the ‘ideal’ of having a son and heir, but as his fourth daughter is born he hides the child’s true identity, she becomes the son of his dreams, but at a terrible cost.”

Irrfan Khan introduced last year’s Monsoon Shootout and seems to be a name that goes hand in hand with Indian Indie movies, always a thoughtful actor that brings quite a bit to the movies he chooses. A lot of times you don’t know the movies showing in festivals so you end up veering towards the names that are familiar to you even though they might not be the ones you would line up to watch on a regular Friday night.

Hank and Asha

A lighthearted breath of air after those first 2 issue based movies, Hank And Asha seems delightful. I saw the trailer for for the first time when it showed at TIFF last year and I knew I wanted to watch it but didn’t know how to. I’m really glad that this little modern day “You’ve Got Mail” is showing at LIFF. Here is the trailer that made me take notice.

Million Dollar Arm: 

Probably this years “biggest” movie with Disney producing, AR Rahman composing and Jon Hamm starring in this based on real life story, which feels like MoneyBall meets City Of Joy. The movie will be releasing in UK theaters august 29th so it’s quite cool to be able to catch this one before general audiences.

Anima State: 

The only Pakistani movie at the LIFF this year and it looks like quite a kinetic experience: A man with a bandage mask across his face goes on a shooting spree across a Pakistani city, gunning down random people. He soon realises that his actions have no consequences and nobody appears to be interested in his murderous deeds, and so he decides to go on live television with a view to committing suicide on air. And that’s when there is a huge twist in the plot.

Sounds a bit like The Man without a Past meets Network mixed in with a little bit of Falling Down. I missed last year’s Josh at the LIFF which got great reviews, and there seems to be a renaissance in Pakistani cinema which again being in the UK we don’t always get a chance to be a part of.

Anima State from Anima State on Vimeo.

 

These are some of our picks, for the full schedule and more trailers you can hear over to: http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm

Let us know if you have seen any of the movies above or if you are looking forward to them in the comment sections below!

Sold Will open the 2014 London Indian FilmFestival

We look forward to the London Indian Film Festival and this year they seem to be bringing in the big (although maybe slighlty downbeat) guns for this year’s premiere.

Sold will have its red carpet European Premiere at the opening of the Fifth annual London INDIAN Film Festival (10 – 17 July). Based on the bestselling novel Sold by Patricia McCormick, the film is a powerful drama based on real life events, and tells of a young Nepali girl’s struggle for survival after being sold into prostitution in Kolkata, and an American photographer (Gillian Anderson), who, against the odds, attempts to rescue her and other young women. The X Files and The Fall star Gillian Anderson is expected to participate in a Q&A in London at the film’s opening night amongst other talent.

Director Jeffrey D. Brown, Executive Producer Emma Thompson and Producer Jane Charles have worked tirelessly to bring this film to the screen researching every aspect of the story in depth with charities which deal directly with child trafficking in India including: Apne Aap, New Light, Sanlaap, Prajwala and in Nepal: Maiti Nepal, Shakti Samhua and Childreach International. Emma Thompson, president of the The Helen Bamber Foundation, works with survivors in London which is why she is informed on this issue and cares deeply about it.

The film is a collaboration between US and Indian production teams and includes supporting cast David Arquette (Conception) and Indian actors Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen), Parambrata Chatterjee (Apur Panchali), Tillotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding) and Susmita Mukherjee (Dostana). Debutante Niyar Saikia plays the central role of Lakshmi, the young girl from Nepal.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Asian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, celebrating Independent cinema and bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India and the subcontinent today, in all its diversity.

The festival will open in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continue at BFI Southbank, ICA and Cineworld Cinemas around London. The festival is grant funded by the BFI Film Festival Fund.

About the screening, Executive Producer Emma Thompson comments: “It is wonderful to have our film premiered at London Indian Film Festival, to raise awareness of child-trafficking, which is an issue close to my heart and is shockingly on the increase world-wide. We hope that this film will make people think and highlight the support for key charities such as The Helen Bamber Foundation and others working in this difficult area in India, Nepal and elsewhere”

About the film, Actor Gillian Anderson states: “Working on this sensitively told film and with young women who have themselves experienced the un-believable trauma of abduction and trafficking has opened my eyes to the horrors these young people face on a daily basis as well as the often life threatening danger those working at the charities put themselves in to free these innocent victims from modern day slavery”

Gillian Anderson has been on a roll with some amazing performances in the past few years like The Fall and Hanibal, and being a huge fan and spending a large chunk of my adolescence watching her as Scully in X-Files, I am quite excited to see Sold, even though the subject is such an important one, I do wonder if it might be a depressing start to such a colorful festival.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the programme looks like, every year they manage to show some great movies, we so have faith in the team led by Cary Raj Sawhney.

 

 

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Leave the World Behind Review

Breaking up is never easy, and saying sorry can sometimes be just as tough – so it seems for Swedish House Mafia in Leave the World Behind, the new film from Christian Larson which documents the trio’s final million-ticket-selling world tour.

It begins with show number one of fifty – the lights come up, tens of thousands of people are screaming, arms up and open wide. The words flash up on a giant screen We Come, We Rave, We Love. A curtain the size of the Vancouver Dam falls from the stage to reveal Axel ‘Axewell’ Hedfors, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angelio a.k.a Swedish House Mafia. The beats erupt, the arena explodes into an all out assault on the senses, and for several minutes, you feel you are part of it; that you’re sharing that experience with those who were really there. There’s no doubt about it, Swedish House Mafia are a musical force to be reckoned with. Or sadly, ‘were’ a force to be reckoned with, because this is there last ever tour and the last time these adoring beat-seekers will see their heroes perform on stage together. But why?

Is it down to all the regular clichés? The drugs? The personality clashes? Too many T.V.’s out of too many hotel windows? The problem is, I’m still not sure, and I don’t think they are either.

Leave the World Behind conveys a band in a constant state of frustration and disarray. They don’t hate each other, but are downright scared that they might start hating each other. The fans don’t want them to break up, and at times, they don’t particularly want to break up either, but something has become amiss between three guys who started out as just three friends out to spend every night on stage as if it were their last. The good times clearly can’t last forever. Things change and of course, people do too.

Larson tries to show us these changes. From party people to family men, some differences a clear, but these are in contradiction to other things we see; leaving the family to work on material, only for the interest of certain members seeming to waiver. There’s an elephant in the room, but this is a band hell bent on partying around it as opposed to blasting it away with those massive beats. The anger and frustration of three friends growing apart but still tied together by the most wonderful thing they have created is clear and yet no-one seems to have the guts to just come out and speak about it. Perhaps that’s just human nature and in real life, some questions will always go unanswered, especially when friendship is on the line. Although it seems Swedish House Mafia would be in a far better place if they were just honest and communicated properly with each other.

Larson gives us real insight into what made this trio such a giant in contemporary music and how their songs touched millions of fans. He also manages to show us the other side of being in a band with friends, and although this is by no means new territory to cover, it’s still a sad sight to see these guys drifting apart and completely unsure what to do about it except push the eject button. In the end, they sign off as a band that went out on top. A brave decision, but in light of Leave the World Behind, perhaps one made of less heroic choices. If you can’t confide in your friends, who can you confide in?

Leave The World Behind hits selected theaters in March.

Paul Mcghie is an Award-Winning Screenwriter, Director, London Lift-Off Film Festival Judge and git. You can check out his feature project here. His work is on Vimeo or you can follow him on twitter @DirPaulMcGhie

 

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The 4th London INDIAN Film Festival Launches in July

We’ve been fortunate enough to have been covering the London Indian Film Festival for the past couple of years and we just received exciting news that in July the festivities in London are starting again!

Previous years we chatted with Abhinay Deo and Imran Khan for Delhi Belly as well as Anurag Kashyap for Gangs Of Wasseypur!

Although the full program isn’t out yet. At least we can mark down our calendar with this press release:

Now Europe’s largest platform for Indian cinema London Indian Film Festival returns to the capital celebrating the exploding movement of Indian Independent cinema. The fourth annual festival will run from 18-25 July, bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of the Indian subcontinent today, in all its diversity.

The festival will stretch city wide, opening in the West End at the Cineworld Haymarket and continue at BFI Southbank, Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, Wood Green, Wandsworth, the O2 and ICA. For the second time the festival is also teaming up with the Tate Modern.

The London Indian Film Festival also has films and events for a wide range of audiences and includes industry events at BAFTA, exploring Indian/UK co-production and specially commissioned music and performance pieces.

A diverse range of World and UK Premieres will be screened including red carpet opening and closing nights of the hottest previews.

The latest confirmation is a centrepiece master class by actor Irrfan Khan, one of the very few Indians to straddle Hollywood, British and Indian cinema. Khan has come to world attention over the last 25 years with an impressive range of roles from under-dogs to action heroes, long distance runners and corporate megalomaniacs.
His memorable film roles include Oscar winners Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and Salaam Bombay, BAFTA winner The Warrior, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Bollywood hits Maqbooland Paan Singh Tomar. The festival will be honouring this versatile actor with a dedicated evening at the BFI Southbank on Saturday 20th July.

The London Indian Film Festival’s full programme will be released on 18 June.

We are delighted to announce that our major sponsors this year will include O2 International Sim, and the festival is also grant supported for the first time with Lottery funding through the BFI’s Film Festival Fund.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director says:

“It’s great to be working on the zeitgeist of new Indian cinema and we aren’t just showing Indian films for Indian

audiences, but kicking open the door to the rich diversity of independent cinema emerging across the Indian

subcontinent today. These films are accessible to everyone! It’s also exciting to see some of the best of the

filmmakers we have helped champion, now starting to be recognised on the world stage, where they belong. We

are very proud to be showcasing these new films here, first, in London, surely the world’s number one city of

culture, style and innovation”.

For more information on the festival please visit: www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

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Dekh Indian Circus Review at LIFF 2012

Our intrepid reporter Sujoy (@9e3K) continues his coverage at the London Indian Film Festival with a review of Dekh Indian Circus.

What do you expect from a movie, which has a poster showing a young boy, with the fluttering Indian tricolour on a bicycle decorated with CDs and bottle caps. Also, a golden brown sandy background with the sun shining beneath, and a fun red font for the title of the movie, all point towards a fun, charming and innocent “children’s film”, well suited to please Film Festivals and Sunday afternoon TV slots. Director Mangesh Hadawale‘s second feature “Dekh Indian Circus” is a crowd-pleaser no doubt, with its child actors providing enough smiles that remain with you throughout the movie. But by the time the lights come up, that pre-assumption of it being yet another “children’s film” goes straight out of the window, as we are left with characters, metaphors and pointed statistics which leave an indelible impression.

 

Dekh Indian Circus has a rather straightforward storyline depicting the struggle of a family of four, somewhere in the middle of rural Rajasthan. The father of the family, Jethu (Nawazzuddin Sidiqqui, Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahaani) is one of the many who struggle hard to earn the daily bread for their family. Being illiterate, member of the minor class, and mute leaves him  struggling to make ends meet. This makes his wife Kajro (Tannishta Chatterjee, Brick Lane), the head of the family, who despite being a rural woman, is progressive-minded and ambitious. She holds strong opinions on everything, be it morality or politicians, and is fiercely determined to secure proper education for her kids – the naughty Ghumroo (Virendra Singh Rathod, the boy in the poster), and his younger sister Panni (Suhani Oza).

Set during a political campaign, it shows how rival candidates host huge rallies and promote electoral candidates – each promising to bring change, prosperity, as well as bribery in exchange for votes. This political “circus” is clearly taking advantage of the economically disadvantaged, who are manipulated, threatened and even beaten up. Meshed smartly within this political subtext, is the story of an innocent desire of the family to watch a traveling Circus. Little Panni is entranced by a flyer of the circus which has a stilt walker, she fondly calls “Lamboora Kaka” (Bamboo Man, literally translates to Very Tall Man). She begs her parents to make her only dream come true.

 

The story then takes us through the trials and tribulations of this circus visit. Hadawale smartly weaves various references to subtly convey the larger picture of how a nation, which is rising and shining as a leader of world economy, has poverty in its roots. India is the bigger “circus”, which has its “ringmasters” whipping the lions and making elephants dance, and then there are the “midget clowns” to be laughed at as well.

 

The performances by lead actors Nawazuddin Sidiqqui and Tannishta Chatterjee are top notch. Although Nawaz plays a mute, his angst, embarassment, and anguish comes alive with his expressive eyes. With Kahaani, and Gangs of Wasseypur, we have come to expect more and more out of this wonderful actor. And it was a bit disappointing to see him muted. But that is hardly a complaint. Tannishta Chatterjee might have been a bit “glammed” up for cinematic reasons, but brings authenticity in her role through mannerisms and genuine love to the role of Kajro – the ever sacrificing mother, and the relentless well spirited woman. And if young and naughty Ghumroo’s antics make you giggle and chuckle uncontrollably, little Panni’s sad face and precious tears are just heartbreaking.

 

Dekh Indian Circus is a competent film when it comes to depicting the story it intends to tell. It doesn’t take the route of portraying a third world environment via means of showcasing grinding poverty or sickening tragedy of rural India. It rather shows it in the light of ethnic beauty, of a communal presence of a society, which despite the dire circumstances they live in, derive happiness from the sounds of nature, the open landscapes and the simpler things in life. There is neither any didactic labeling when it opts to hint the political subtext. And enveloped with widescreen landscape images from Laxman Utekar, Wayne Sharpe’s effervescent score, and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Prasoon Joshi handling the music and lyrics department, Dekh Indian Circus oozes of optimism and leaves you with a smile, even though your eyes might or might not be dry. It deserves the mainstream release it is getting in India.

Verdict: 3 Splashing Stars Out of 5

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

For more about the London Indian Film Festival head over to their website or twitter feed!

Let us know what you thought of the review in the comment section below and do continue to check out Upodcast for more coverage of the LIFF!

@asimburney

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