The palette of contemporary India – first titles of Focus: India section on 17th Five Flavours
The emerging agency of India in the global landscape, the turbulent politics and ambitions of the most populated country in the world, as well as the vibrant energy of the Indian film industry, abounding in talent pool and incredible creativity – these are the reasons why it’s high time to look into contemporary Indian Cinema. For Five Flavours, it’s an unprecedented direction in the festival’s history – let this section become an invitation to embrace the lavish and fascinating tissue of Indian storytelling.
Focus: India is a whole spectrum of emotions and varying styles – poetic essays, intimate dramas, or genre blockbusters that will take you by surprise with their fierce narratives. Each of the programmed films of the biggest film industry in the world becomes a chance to delve into Indian diversity, as they present local stories through the context of geographical tapestry or different traditions – either concerning the cultural background or filmmaking practice. The thematic keys that bind the festival’s selection revolve around the notions of collectivity and diversity. Representing different apparatuses of production modes and bound by the notions of groups, these films reflect the contemporary landscape of India. With Focus: India we hope to mark an important angle for the debate around the country – while thinking of caste or collective bodies, we want to disseminate a wider perspective on what binds people together and disunites them.
The programme includes a tale on the nature of fear that was well-received in Locarno, an electrifying dance-musical that conveys the story of emancipation, or a stand-out from Rotterdam’s selection – an observation hybrid of document and fiction storytelling that highlights the lives of the Muslim minority.
dir. Dominic Sangma
India, China 2023, 127’
[In-theater + online]
Once in a while, in the surroundings of the catholic village, there’s a new species of cicada that appears out of nowhere. It’s considered as an exotic delicacy, so collective hunting becomes an important component of the village’s identity. The harmonious flow of the lives of villagers is disrupted when the children start to disappear into the vast space of the dark forest, taken by the unknown kidnappers. The local pastor prophesizes these events as a sign of the upcoming apocalypse, which shall come after the period of 80 days of total darkness. The protagonist of the story is a 10-year-old boy named Kasan, who will have to confront his fear of the unknown that awaits in the darkness.
Rapture is like playing hide-and-seek in a forest. Its vastness accommodates the utmost of dread and terror – surprisingly, Sangma’s take on the notions of fear appears as both beautiful and frightening.
dir. Abhishek Shah
India 2019, 121’
In the state of Gujarat, West India, where the vast steppes burn with the fire of the sun and sand, there’s a village where the garba dance is practiced. A forceful, vibrant, emancipating, and filled with precision of choreography, the dance is, unfortunately, limited to men. The patriarchal structures say it all – women should be restrained from pleasures and isolated from the outside world. One day, on their way to bring water, the group of women meet a mysterious man, whom they save from dehydration. He appears to be a drummer. Once the sounds come out of his dhol, the rhythm of the music will unite the dancing bodies in the motion of garba.
Hellaro resonates as an impressive dance-musical and soap opera, that conveys the story of beautiful emancipation.
Kayo kayo colour?
dir. Shahrukhkhan Chavada
Indie 2023, 96’
[In-theater + online]
A registration of daily dynamics, captured in the heart of Ahmedabad, state of Gujarat, where the camera captures the crosscurrents of the Muslim minority. Which Colour? blends the documentary gaze with fiction, encapsulating the relationships, domestic rituals, or interdependencies between the gender roles. Rendered through rhythmical observations, Chavada’s method offers a unique commentary on the current situation of the Muslim minority in India that stands as a poignant and valid representation of those who are utterly marginalized by the system.
Which Colour? is a family chronicle that grips with its bravery – the 24-hour-long record of the mundane and quotidian becomes a cinematic manifest, where the filmmaker dares to stand against Narendra Modi’s politics of erasure through poetics of observation.