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Water defies all odds

Saibal Chatterjee does a round up of the Bangkok film fest. Water finds success

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 21:32 IST

Deepa Mehta’s critically acclaimed Indo-Canadian period drama, Water, had to defy many odds on the way to winning the coveted Golden Kinnaree awards for Best Picture at the 4th Bangkok International Film Festival, which concluded on Monday.

Water, starring John Abraham, Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas, got the better of a strong field that included local favourite, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Invisible Waves, besides the Oscar-nominated Duncan Tucker film Transamerica, Stephen Frears’ Mrs Henderson Presents and cult South Korean director Chan-Wook Park’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

Water nearly did not make it to the festival. The film’s international distributor was bent upon pulling it out of the Bangkok competition although its producer David Hamilton and director Mehta had formally confirmed their participation in the rapidly growing Tourism Authority of Thailand-sponsored film festival.

Set in late 1930s colonial India against the rising tide of nationalism and progressive Gandhian ideals, Water captures the plight of widows compelled by outmoded social traditions to lead a life of privation, servility and exploitation.

Deepa Mehta’s film, Water, had to defy many odds on the way to winning the coveted Golden Kinnaree awards for Best Picture at the Bangkok International Film Festival.

Mehta’s film was the opening night presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival last year before it went on to premiere in India at the International Film Festival of Kerala.

The Bangkok festival’s Golden Kinnaree for Best Director went to Chan-Wook Park for Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. The film is a characteristically stylised thriller about a girl who is jailed for the abduction and murder of a child, a crime she committed at the behest of a double-crossing accomplice. She bides her time, wins over the other prison inmates and, on her release, goes about the mission of wreaking vengeance on the man who betrayed her.

Park is known in India as the maker of Oldboy, the 2004 Cannes Film Festival award-winner that ‘inspired’ Sanjay Gupta’s ultra-violent Zinda.

Presley Chaweneyagae won the Best Actor Golden Kinnaree for his performance as a young man in a crime-infested shantytown in Gavin Hood’s South African film, Tsotsi. Tsotsi is among the favourites to win the foreign-language film Oscar this year.

The South African film, based on a novel by Athol Fugard, follows the spiritual journey of a brutally violent boy from the mean streets. He undergoes a transformation after he is inadvertently saddled with a baby following a failed car theft attempt.

Another Oscar nominee, Felicity Huffman, won the Best Actress Golden Kinnaree for her complex role in Transamerica, which has her playing a male-to-female sex operation candidate who discovers that ‘she’ had fathered a son who now lives on the wrong side of the tracks in a big city.

The Argentine first-time filmmaking duo of Vera Fogwill and Martin Desalvo were awarded for Kept and Dreamless, which was part of the Bangkok International Film Festival’s New Voices section.

Kept and Dreamless is about a mother-daughter pair struggling to put their lives on an even keel. It tells the story of a drug-addicted woman (played by co-director Vera Fogwill herself) and her ten-year-old daughter, who is saddled with a burden that few girls of her age can bear, let alone shoulder.

A jury headed by Australian director Fred Schepisi chose the Bangkok winners.