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

Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla | First published: 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.