Visaaranai, Vetrimaaran's Tamil film in Venice film fest

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2015 15:43 IST

Tamil director Vetrimaaran's Visaaranai (Interrogation) will screen at the 72nd edition of the world's oldest film festival at Venice, starting on September 2. The movie will be part of Orizzonti or Horizons -- the section second in importance to Competition, and which is akin to Cannes' A Certain Regard showcasing experimental cinema.

The official Venice lineup was announced by the festival director Alberto Barbera in Rome on July 29.

Visaaranai is not certainly the first Tamil film at Venice. In 2010, Mani Ratnam's Raavanan played there along with the Hindi version, Raavan.

Incidentally, Visaaranai follows Dheepan -- a Tamil language work about Sri Lankan refugees helmed by the renowned French auteur, Jacques Audiard -- that competed at Cannes in May and clinched the festival's highest prize, Palm d'Or.

Vetrimaaran -- whose Aadukalam centred on a subject as novel as rooster fight -- has based his latest movie on Chandra Kumar's novel, Lock Up, which evoked a fiery debate on police brutality soon after it was published in 2006.

Vetrimaaran's Visaaranai is based on Chandra Kumar's novel, Lock Up. A wayward teenager, Kumar ran away from home, and as he wandered in southern India doing odd jobs, he was picked up the police from an Andhra village on grounds of suspicion and incarcerated in a tiny room for 15 days. Kumar once said: It was horrifying how vulnerable people living on the margins were to police atrocities... There I was in a 10x10 room in the sweltering heat of March. I can never forget those 15 torturous days."

Watch Visaaranai trailer here

His frightful experience gave birth to Lock Up, Kumar's first novel -- 160 pages detailing police brutality on vulnerable men and women. Published in 2006, the book received the 'Best Document of Human Rights' award the same year, and the stories in it of Kumar's own travails and those of fellow prisoners will be part of Vetrimaaran's surprisingly short film, Visaaranai, with Samuthirakani, playing a cop. It will be just 60 minutes.

The Lineup: The Venice Film Festival, held on the island of Lido in the Adriatic Sea, has this unenviable position of being sandwiched between Cannes in May -- with its hugely-lucrative-for-buyers-and-sellers market, its amazing glamour that only gets brighter every year and its impressively auteurist cinema -- and Toronto, that colossal platform for the awards season, including the Oscars, in September.

A still from Baltasar Kormakur's Everest which stars Hollywood actor Jake Gyllenhaal among others.

Yet, in recent years, Venice has held on -- despite being a festival that is well patronised only for the first half with a huge exodus of critics, programmers and business reps to Toronto, which starts midway through the Lido event.

In fact, the Venice opener has reached a kind of unique status during the past few years with Birdman and Gravity doing extremely well at the later awards. This year, Baltasar Kormakur's Everest, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright, fictionalises the true story of mountaineers trapped in deathly snowstorms. The movie promises an adventure as exciting as the George Clooney-Sandra Bullock space odyssey, Gravity.

In all, the festival will have 55 features in various sections (Competition, Orizzonti, etc) that will have star power and auteur value. The 11-day event will close on September 12 with Guan Hu's Mr Six -- about an ailing gangster tempted back into business by his son.

A still from Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne.

The 21 titles competing for the top Golden Lion include Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl, a love story inspired by the lives of artists Einar and Gerda Wegener; Drake Doremus' Equals, starring Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult and Guy Pearce - a futuristic romance set in a world sans emotions; Heart Of A Dog, the feature debut of experimental performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson; Cary Fukunaga's Beasts Of No Nation, starring Idris Elba; Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa; Scott Cooper's gangster flick, Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp; and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, the true story of how the Boston Globe revealed a child molestation cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese.

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