The 11th Osian film festival, to be held in Delhi this week, is not about numbers, but the numbers are impressive anyway.
Launched in 1999 with just 20 films, this year the festival will feature over a hundred films. Unlike a five-member jury at most film festivals, Osian will have a 30-member panel of experts. Another first: India is the focus this year.
Here’s a pick of must-watch films and events by the festival’s director-general Mani Kaul (director of avant-garde films such as Duvidha, Siddheshwari and Naukar Ki Kameez) whose selection, as he says, “is for an audience that loves cinema and not just entertainment”.
* Romanian film Hooked, the opening film at Osian’s-Cinefan, uses unpredictable camera movements, moving away from a scene between characters for no apparent motivation. It is a small detail that has big consequences for filmmakers. This debut film by Adrian Sitaru is part of the great Romanian renaissance in cinema.
* The New Stream sessions: Directors Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Raj Kumar Gupta and Dibakar Banerji will be there along with some actors and technicians at different dates (October 25-30) and present the philosophy behind NewStream cinema.
* Er Dong is a film about a rebellious teenager in China’s interior. He lives with his mother, a devout Christian. He is expelled from school, leaves home with a girl friend to float away from rural landscapes, all until a secret is unravelled. The director, Yang Jin, in this film, is seen to hold a dialogue with the history of realism in cinema. An extraordinary work.
* Don’t miss Waltz with Bashir, the only animation film in the festival. It displays an extremely innovative method of making an animated documentary, a contradiction in itself.
* 10 Police — another Romanian masterpiece. “I first saw it at Cannes and was amazed to find how certain films are able to push the language of cinema further,” says Kaul.
* Deep in the Valley, a Japanese film directed by Funahashi Atsushi, is a blend of documentary and fiction in beautiful black, white and gray tonalities. The story: Different narratives revolving around the five-storey pagoda that was burned down twice, with the community aspiring to build again.
* Haile Gerima, Ethiopian-born director, sets his film Teza in the times of a bloodthirsty regime. A masterpiece.
* Look out for activities at the OLE Centre.
* Bahauddin Dagar’s early morning raga on Rudra Veena. The session begins at 5:00 a.m. on October 27 at the Alliance Française.