Calgary Cinematheque Board member Sachin Gandhi highlights the importance of four Contemporary World Cinema titles playing at the upcoming Calgary International Film Festival.
The Calgary Cinematheque is proud to be a community partner with the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) for Jacques Audiard’s DHEEPAN which won the Palme D’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. This win caps off a remarkable run for Audiard who came close to winning the top Cannes Prize with his previous two films RUST AND BONE (2012) and A PROPHET (2009, Grand Jury Prize Winner at Cannes). In fact, he is no stranger to awards as all his seven features to date have won multiple accolades, right from his first feature SEE HOW THEY FALL (1994) to his current work DHEEPAN. A common factor in his films is the ability to fuse realism with fiction. This allows viewers to be immersed in the film, observe the characters up close and be drawn into their lives. Even when his films are rooted in a crime or thriller genre (THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED, A PROPHET), the camera patiently observes the characters going about their daily lives and lingers just long enough for the audience to get a sense of the character’s emotional state. His films also have a proper balance of dialogue and silence. This allows his actors ample opportunities to use their body language and expressions to convey emotions, thereby growing in performance over the course of a film. Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Devos (READ MY LIPS), Romain Duris (THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED), Tahar Rahim (A PROPHET), Matthias Schoenaerts, Marion Cotillard (RUST AND BONE) have all benefitted from Audiard’s style and put in memorable career defining performances in his films while picking up individual acting awards and nominations.
The stellar acting trend has continued with DHEEPAN where both Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan have given outstanding performances. In addition, the casting of Antonythasan Jesuthasan has added a new dimension of realism to Audiard’s film. In the film, Jesuthasan plays a former Tamil militant who comes to France using a fake story in order to start a new life. In real life, Jesuthasan was a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and made his way to France on a fake passport and got asylum. He subsequently turned his life experience into novels (GORILLA, TRAITOR) and acted in a previous film THE DEAD SEA. By giving Jesuthasan a major role, Audiard has managed to inject a heavy dose of realism within a fictional framework in a way he has never attempted. It is not surprising that this film finally earned Audiard the coveted Palme D’or even though in fairness, the path he has taken to reach this point has been filled with some excellent works in global cinema.
CIFF is also showing films by two global masters in World Cinema, whose films were previously shown by the Calgary Cinematheque.
TAXI: When Jafar Panahi was banned from making films in 2010, it felt like the world would lose a vital voice. Thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be the case. THIS IS NOT A FILM surfaced in a remarkable manner in Cannes 2011 after the film was smuggled to Paris on a usb stick inside a cake. He followed that up with CLOSED CURTAIN in 2013. TAXI is the third film Panahi has made since his ban and it reaches some of the creative heights associated with his pre-ban films. In his previous two films, his working area was restricted mostly to an apartment in THIS IS NOT A FILM and a house in CLOSED CURTAIN. His working area is even more confined in TAXI and limited to the front of the cab. However, these three films show that a true artist can find ways to express themselves even when they are pushed into a corner. The Calgary Cinematheque has shown both THIS IS NOT A FILM and CLOSED CURTAIN, the latter in January of this year.
MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART: The latest film from Jia Zhang-Ke is a surprising departure for the Chinese auteur. His initial features had a fictional framework but focused on characters’ lives in a vérité manner such as in PICK POCKET (1997), PLATFORM (2000), UNKNOWN PLEASURES (2002). 2004’s THE WORLD started a shift in his style as he mixed theatrical performances with a touch of documentary. STILL LIFE (2006) was filmed in stunning HD and started a transition towards documentary but he included two jaw dropping sci-fi shots in the film that reminded everyone of the fictional nature of the work. However, he embraced the path of documentaries with his subsequent films such as DONG (2006), USELESS (2007), I WISH I KNEW (2010, shown by the Calgary Cinematheque). 2008’s 24 CITY contains a bit of fiction although incorporated with a heavy dose of documentary. The documentary style was smashed by A TOUCH OF SIN (2013) which is Jia’s most violent film to date. All the anger missing from his previous films was depicted in a single film with a jolting impact. Now, with MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART, he has shifted gears again and made his most touching emotional movie to date. Like his pre-documentary style films, the presence of a pop song (Pet Shop Boys ‘Go West’) is a vital part of MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART but the epic nature of the story which spans a duration of 26 years makes this film his most ambitious project to date. Also, the third act of the film contains English dialogues and is set in Australia, putting the director outside of his comfort zone of shooting his fictional features exclusively in China.
In addition, CIFF is showing OUR LITTLE SISTER, the newest film by Hirokazu Kore-eda who is often compared to the Japanese master Yasujirô Ozu due to Kore-eda's depictions of families and the relationship between parents and children in films such as LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (2013), STILL WALKING (2008) and NOBODY KNOWS (2004). Kore-eda’s STILL WALKING has shades of Ozu’s TOKYO STORY, a classic world cinema work that was shown by the Calgary Cinematheque. Kore-eda’s films may have a touch of Ozu but he has also carved his own unique take on the modern Japanese family by focusing on different family dynamics in his films. I, WISH (2012), NOBODY KNOWS (2004) shows the world from children’s perspective, while STILL WALKING is about elderly parents relationship with their adult children. His last feature LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON illustrates the two-way relationship that exists between parents and their young children. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON also manages to highlight a father’s perspective towards his child. With OUR LITTLE SISTER, Kore-eda now turns the focus on daughters in the absence of a father figure. As a result, he has now covered another vital angle of how members of a family shape each other.
The Calgary International Film Festival runs September 23 - October 4. For tickets and information visit www.calgaryfilm.com