Mumbai Film Festival

Abhijit Ghosh-Dastidar

The Mumbai Film Festival (October 2018) organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI) and Jio Reliance, bestowed a wealth of cinematic images. The international reach of the selections, spotlighted world cinema, contemporary Indian cinema, restored classics, and a tribute to Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007).

Hirokazu Koreda's "Shoplifters" (Japan, colour, 120 mins) follows a makeshift family living on the margins of society, and focuses a light on people, who have been overlooked or ignored. Pintsized Shota (Jyo Kairi) and Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky) enter a large departmental store, and indulge in shop lifting, on a cold winter evening. They come across a shivening young girl, rechrinstened Rin (Miyu Sasaki), on their way home. Rin is brought home, where wife, Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), is worried over an extra mouth to feed. Rin is full of body scars and bruises, and stays with the family. Osamu works on a construction site, and wife Nobuyo is employed in an industrial laundry. Their college-age daughter, Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) perfoms in a strip-booth. The old grand-mother (Kirin Kiki) has pocketed her late husband's pension, and extracts gains from a step-son. The family members live in a crumbling bungalow, enjoying pilfered groceries and instant noodles. Rin is trained in the act of shop lifting. Her birth parents never file a police report. In summer, the Shibata family frolic by the sea. The characterisation brim with humanity. The channel life ends, when Shota trying to evade security, jumps over a steel railing, and is severely injured. Shota is arrested by police. Osamu's arrest reveals that he is facing murder charges.

Koreda highlights severe labour conditions, in the neo-realist narrative of survival under adversity. Ryuto Kondo's camera captures the sharp contrasts of the protagonists' traditional home and the impersonal high rise building blocks, the seasons of winter and summer.

In "3 Faces" (Iran, colour, 100 mins) Jafar Panahi is released from house arrest, and with actress and friend, Behnaz Jafari, drives into rural Iran to find out if a young woman (Marzieyeh Razaie), who was not allowed to attend acting school, really committed suicide. The film title refers to three actresses of times past, present and future. Playing himself, Jafar drives his SUV in the north-west of Iran, to a Turkish-Azeri speaking area. The film opens with an upsetting video sent ot Behnaz, a famous actress, where she is accused by hysterical Marziyeh of ignoring her pleas for help. Marzieyeh wants to become an actress, and has been accepted by a conservatory in Tehran. Her family refuses to let her leave home to study. At the end of the video, filmed inside a cave, the girl hangs herself with a rope. Behnaz had recently sent a screenplay about suicide to Marzieyeh. The car sequence is filmed in a single elaorate take. Marzieyeh is missing for three days. A farmer's prize-bull has fallen on the road. Behnaz wanders in the night, at a mountain village. An old timer explains to her the quaint, traditional uses of the foreskin, after a boy's circumcision. Marzieyeh is found alive in a cave. Amin Jafari's camera is mobile, and follows the liberating message of freedom of choice and a grim black humour. Former actress Shahrazade lives alone in a small house, outside the village, and is never shown on screen. She writes poetry—and paints landscapes, setting on example of independence.

Vol. 51, No.22, Dec 2 - 8, 2018