As the ninth edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival here winds up to an end this evening, an over-the-shoulder glance reveals a number of attention-grabbing movies. Of the 15 films from 15 countries in competition and with most of them being first or second works, a large number told us fascinatingly varied tales. The fresh helmers may not have as yet learnt the grammar of good cinema. A certain rawness could be noticed in their creations, but their radical individuality was impressive. Their plots were strange but strong and convincing. Above all, they were honest, shorn of pretension.
We see how six men and women in a Cairo neighbourhood (
by Ahmad Abdalla) fail in whatever they planned to do that particular day the work chooses to talk about. But that evening they know they will have to begin their efforts all over again the next morning. It could have been as mundane as buying a refrigerator for a new home a couple wanted to set up. Or, more importantly to get a visa.
Nosir Saidov uses a different kind of conflict in his
. He portrays the historical tension between Tajikstan and Uzbekistan to weave a sweet human story that ends up as stirring drama. When the mountain village of Safedobi is partioned and fenced by soldiers one fine morning, there is disarray and chaos, and the comic as well. We see how a teacher conducts his class with his students sitting on the other side of the divide. But when the village’s next weather observer, Nilufar (Nasiba Sharipova), plans to get married to Aziz, whose house is on the other side, the bells sound notes of tragedy not joy. Saidov ends his movie with a dramatic explosion, and what a splendid way of calling cut.
is another film that narrates how political borders have caused anguish to the human race. Setting his piece in a small Mexican town where Andres (Harold Torres) is biding time to get across to the magic of the American new world, the director analyses the emotional conflict of such separations. Failed attempts to illegally cross over do not daunt him though, and as he prepares for his next dart, he meets two women. Both seek his attention, hoping in vain to stop him from going away. But Andres is sure that his life lies across the barbed wires, and when he finally makes it, the method of his escape seems incredible.
The Good Heart
is far more personal and touches intimately the lives of two individuals. When Jacques (Brian Cox) ends up in hospital with his fifth heart attack, he understands that time is running out for him and there is none to take care of his bar with its set of most peculiar rules. At the hospital, he meets a young homeless man, Lucas (Paul Dano), who has failed in his suicide attempt. Jacques takes Lucac under his charge, but when a fear-of-flying stewardess, April, walks into the bar, we know nothing is going to be the same again. In a shocking dramatic twist, Kari takes us headlong into a misfortune that we wished would have never happened. In some ways resembling a stagy television play with restricted production values, the movie, though, iss not without its appeal.
Sparse frames and few dialogues mark the Polish work by Urszula Antoniak,
. The auteur says in her statement, “When our contemporary world is busy with issues of unification and integration, the two characters of my film choose a solitude they see as personal freedom and comfort. But is not the longing for contact human”. This is precisely what the movie sets out to explore but in an amazing way. A mysterious young woman and a lonely widower play out their parts in a deserted landscape. When he finds her at his home one day, he offers her food for work. She accepts the deal, but will not answer any questions or divulge her name. However, the picture settles into an easy pace with the woman mellowing down. Though, he craves for company, and she loves to be alone, they reach a meeting point and a beautiful trust between them emerges. Understandable, some may find the film perplexing, and that is because we hardly know anything about the woman or why she shuns human contact.
Love and Rage
also tackles man-woman relationship, but in an explosive manner. It tracks a young, talented pianist’s descent into insanity, traits that he inherits from his father. At many levels it is an intense psychological drama. When Daniel wins a scholarship from a coveted New York school, he knows that it is dream come true. However, his attraction for his classmate, Sofie, turns into jealousy and rage that can only destroy him, his relationship and a great future. Giese handles human distress and irrationality with finesse to helm an engaging work.
Gautaman Bhaskaran has been covering the Marrakech International Film Festival for several years.