There were films, fashion and public conversations with cinema celebrities. But beyond the red carpets, this year's Festa del cinema di Roma proved a meeting point for understanding the world around us, and sharing thoughts with like-minded people from faraway lands. Here is my personal diary of a wonderful event held in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.Read More
On my last day in Doha, I spend the afternoon wandering around the Souq Waqif which I learned from a local filmmaker, literally translates as “the stand up souk.” In the olden days, before Qatar turned into the international, cosmopolitan country it is today, the sea would come straight into the alleys of the souk so the merchants had to stand up and pick up their wares during the tides. Thus the name, and actually while I wandered around checking out the shops, having a shawl sewn from a traditional flower fabric by a local tailor while drinking a karak chai (cardamon infused milky tea) and eating a chapatti flat bread filled with zaatar, I felt like I was transported back to those early days of the pearl divers and their haunting songs of the sea.
Doha is special place. I’ll never get tired of saying it. And their annual Qumra event, organized by the Doha Film Institute is sheer cinematic magic. Qumra is a meeting place, a five-days long networking session, a place to pitch, secure financing and ensure a screening chance for film projects. But it is also an occasion to recharge our collective passion for the movies. For journalists, producers and of course filmmakers, the atmosphere at Qumra offers an almost electric energy, a jolt of renewed hope in the future of the 7th art.Read More
This year's Venice Film Festival seemed to carry a special soundtrack, like a mixtape of our collective thoughts and hopes and wishes. For a future where we are finally able to learn from our past and stop thinking that our opinions count individually. For a world where we will discover, finally, a middle ground in shades of grey, instead of living everything in either black or white.
Here is my Venezia 75 Mixtape.Read More
It is immediately clear, from the beautiful black and white shots and the poetically intimate details that 'Roma' is a very personal film for Alfonso Cuarón. At times, the real-life inspired story of a middle class family in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, told through the eyes of their housekeeper Cleo, felt so private, so confidential, it seemed like I was intruding on something really special. But I still could not bring myself to look away, I didn't want to stop watching, I also didn't want the film to end because for more than two hours, Cuarón paid homage to womanhood. It takes a big man to do that and an even bigger filmmaker to get the message across.Read More
Every meeting at this year’s Venice Film Festival has been a once-in-a-lifetime chance encounter for me. From chatting with the fabulous James Toback, to meeting his visionary producer Michael Mailer, from the relaxed junket on San Clemente island with Kirsten Dunst and the Rodarte sisters to sitting leisurely with artist Shirin Neshat at Villa degli Autori, from the wisdom of Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel to the Zen discipline and class of Maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto — it’s all been divine. There is no other word to describe it.
And yet, on the seventh day of the festival, another surprise awaited me. A cozy, wonderful junket with Jim Carrey and director Chris Smith, who together made a film that has quickly risen to my top five — alright top three actually — in Venice.Read More
On one of the English language news channels this morning, they were talking about this new film ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ which is making a big splash — or shall I say “flush” — in India at the moment. It’s a love story shot around the absolute, undeniably dire need for better plumbing facilities in the Desh. “This is one instance where perhaps a movie has been able to change policies,” said one anchor. Duh, I thought. Cinema has been changing the way we think, act and feel since its inception. It’s just that we don’t often think about it, because the kind of films which usually change us, for better or for worse, are those that entertain us without apparently teaching us anything. But the power of their subliminal messages is there, always, on the big screen, your TV and even your mobile screen.Read More
It is a thin line that filmmakers walk every time they make a film, that invisible border which separates cinema the audience wants to watch from the work they really wish to make. Sometimes, as in the latest film from American auteur James Toback premiering at the Venice Film Festival, they balance perfectly on that tightrope and create a watchable masterpiece like ‘The Private Life of a Modern Woman’ which is also critically acclaimed and emanates important subliminal messages for days after viewing it. Other times, for example with George Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’ well, they miss, tumbling onto the safety net of their celebrity-dom which allows fans of their work to oh and ah, regardless of how valid their product really is.Read More
While my first 36 hours at the Venice Film Festival were filled with impossible sunshine and balmy heat, with the morning’s thunderstorms came both barometric relief but also some much needed introspection. I found myself in a deep, thoughtful place thanks to a beautiful meeting with Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel and a morning screening of Netflix’s ‘Our Souls at Night’.Read More
A film festival is of course only as great as the sum of its parts, and one very important, visual and ever-present part of the well-loved and hyper-attended festival that is Locarno is represented in the figure of its Artistic Director, Carlo Chatrian. A film journalist, writer, film programmer and now as the visionary head of the festival, Chatrian has been a part of Locarno Festival since 2002, inheriting his latest role in 2013. Those attending, as well as those following the event on social media and through their informative, interactive website, will notice his infectious enthusiasm. When I caught up with him on the next to last day of the festival, after he greeted the delegations of the day’s films during lunch — an activity he calls “a pleasure, after spending so much time in the dark watching films, to see these films come to light, and meet those who have done that work” — and then did a lively TV interview, he still had energy to spare. I, on the other hand, was exhausted by then.Read More
Thierry Frémaux is a cinema potentate. And that’s a great thing!
While most people at the top usually usurp their power for personal gain, the director of the Festival de Cannes uses his inimitable influence for the good of cinema. It’s a vision which may eventually — if filmmakers have their way — change the world. Thanks to ones like Amos Gitai, Chloé Zhao and Bong Joon-ho to cite a few whose latest oeuvres I’ve watched these past 24 hours — change the world for the better.
On a personal note, watching Frémaux’s elegant and welcoming presence at the top of the red carpet staircase before each of the official screenings has been a breath of style air, in a world that’s increasingly forgetting the power of modesty and class.Read More