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MAMI Day 3: Cinema Travellers, Aquarius, After the Storm and more traffic

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 24 October 2016, 13:08 IST

Call me repetitive but I cannot get past how poorly spaced out MAMI is. The distance between cinemas, almost always through routes defined by traffic sprawls, is a huge dampener on an event that is otherwise magnificent.

Cinema Travellers

Ironically enough, day 3 of MAMI began with the acclaimed documentary Cinema Travellers - a movie about the roving cinema trucks of India that bring the big screen experience to places that have no cinemas of their own.

Settling in for the movie after a trek to Andheri, I couldn't help but think that MAMI would have been heaps better if they'd employed these lorries, bringing the movies to the viewer rather than the Lord of the Rings-like expeditions I'm just getting used to. Maybe if they had, then I'd have been able to catch the restored print of Saragossa Manuscript that I missed out on for Cinema Travellers.

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The documentary chronicles what I'd like to call the death of cinema, in the traditional sense. It's about how mobile "tent cinemas" have gone from film to digital and then near extinction. It follows the lives of three people involved in the business of going from village to village, showcasing movies, and the technology that goes behind delivering movies to the masses.

Directed by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, this documentary was eight years in the making. Determined and tireless film-making from the two, to say the very least, at a time when documentary film-making in India is proving to be less and less sustainable.

Some people were in tears, some were in awe of the film-making and others were just admiring the labour of love from the filmmakers. It's a Cannes Film Festival award-winner and the audience was universally appreciative. There was a standing ovation, which is not surprising for this film, and an engaging question and answer session afterward.


Next up was Aquarius - a movie where the pre-booked line was longer than the waiting line. The movie is a Brazilian-French drama directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and starring Sonia Braga. It tells the tale of a retired music critic, who is the last resident of a residential complex called Aquarius. All her neighbouring plots have been acquired by a single company. Now, it's her versus the company.

The movie has a lot of heart and the direction is extremely well thought out. The well-received cinematography is a bonus. Sonia Braga, in her role as the film's lead, absolutely steals the show. From her expressions, to her character development from start to finish, one knows exactly what it is like to walk in her shoes, seeing through her eyes and thinking with her mind by the end of the film.

Not a single negative remark could be heard about the movie. It's the sleeper hit of the festival. It may even be the best movie of the festival. While walking out though, I heard good things about Goodbye Berlin, my next movie for the day. So I went in with raised expectations.

Goodbye Berlin

One bathroom break later, I entered the hall for Goodbye Berlin (Tschick), which was packed to the brim. People were excited for the film - another road trip movie. They were prepared for laughs and a whole lot of debauchery.

What followed was none of that.

Director Fatih Akin is a hit or miss creator and this was clearly a miss. Second only to Neon Demon in the worst movies of the festival, Tschick was not funny, supremely predictable, and contained two guys, neither of whom were particularly likable. It felt like the sort of movie a couple of college students could have made on a low budget over a couple of weekends.

As I had to make it back to Colaba by 8 PM for Hirokazu Koreeda's After The Storm, I bolted out the doors fifteen minutes before the end of Tschick. 15 minutes that I wouldn't have survived had I stayed.

After The Storm

A combination of auto and taxi brought me to Colaba with scarcely five minutes to spare.

Having seen Like Father, Like Son at the New York Film Festival a couple of years ago, I was prepared for this one. From the get go, it was funny - with a large number of quotable quotes - and the character studies were terrific.

It's the melancholy tale of a family torn apart by the death of the father and the divorce of the son, that is brought together by a typhoon. The plot is relatively simple but the level at which you dive into the individual members of the family, is quite remarkable.

This one, has been much talked about, not just at MAMI but also at Cannes and many other festivals. I'd be surprised if someone were to give this a bad review, as each and every person outside was all praise.

First published: 24 October 2016, 13:08 IST
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.