SATURDAY 3RD JUNE 2017: The opening film “Blood of my Blood” (Portugal) of the RCB Film Club’s June Series has been screened at the top festivals of the world, won nearly 19 Awards, was Portugal’s Oscar nomination in 2011, and is considered by many to be one of the top 10 Portuguese films of all time. It was also the most successful film of the year in Portugal.
It is a tough and moving drama of a family in crisis, led by a strong mother who fights every problem with strength and fortitude (well-known Portuguese actress Rita Blanco won many awards for her masterful performance). Her son sells drugs, her daughter is having an affair with a married man, her sister longs to be loved, and she herself hides a dark secret. The film portrays a multiple range of relationships, with fluctuating moments of pain, passion, tenderness, violence, that are all evened out at the end.
SUNDAY 4TH JUNE 2017: “Villa Touma” is the debut feature film of a renowned Palestine scriptwriter based in Israel, Suha Arraf, who won global fame by scripting the stark and moving human dramas about the Arab-Israel conflict- Lemon Tree, Syrian Bride- which won awards, acclaim, and audiences around the world. Villa Touma was screened at a record 100 film festivals around the world, including top ones like Venice and Toronto.
The story centers around three aristocratic, single Christian women, who lost their land during the 1967 war with Israel, and are left with only a villa. They choose to live in isolation there, refusing to accept the changes happening outside their wall. In many ways, their wall represents the wall of the West Bank. Their home is richly endowed, with nothing out of place, and the sisters live a life of decorum and propriety, even though they each have their secret dreams, desires, desperations. Into this surreal world, enters their orphaned niece Badia , perky, clumsy, nosey. They decide to train her to be a ‘lady’ like them, and after that, to find her a suitor, so that they can continue with their regimented lives. In order to find a suitor, they step out of their house for the first time in many years, and also stun the townsfolk by inviting them to their home. Meanwhile Badia meets Khalil, a young Palestine singer from a refugee camp, falls in love, and even encourages him to visit her at night. The three sisters are aghast, when they find out. They realize that they have to accept the huge change in their lives, and the story ends on a higher note of irony than when it started.
SATURDAY 10TH JUNE 2017: “Trishna” is a unique film, made by one of Britain’s top contemporary directors Michael Winterbottom, based on the classic British novel Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy. But it is exotically set in Rajasthan, India, a country the British director admires, and shot two of his earlier movies in. The romantic leads are played by the lovely Slumdog Millionaire actress Frieda Pinto and well-known Brit-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed, who was recently named by TIME magazine as ‘One of the 100 Most Influential People in the World’. The cameo roles are played by well-known Indian artistes too. Winterbottom, who had earlier translated two of Hardy’s novels into film (Code 46, Jude ) takes liberties with this novel too, the most important being that he amalgamates the two heroes of Tess, into one.
The hero is Jay Singh, the scion of a rich British-Indian family who returns from London to India, in order to run a family-owned hotel in Rajasthan. That’s where he meets the beautiful and gentle Trishna, a hotel-employee who comes from a poor rural family. Jay becomes obsessed with her and soon starts a torrid relationship. He even takes her to Mumbai, where she learns her favourite Bollywood dance-moves, meets many Bollywood film folk ( who play themselves) and they live happily together as a couple. But Jai has to move back to his Rajasthan-hotel, and she meekly follows him there. The boss-employee relationship is re-instated, but he continues to have a torrid relationship with her, behind closed doors. Like Tess in Hardy’s novel, it becomes tough for Trishna to surmount the social barriers, especially in India. The emotional upheavals take its toll too, and she looks for a way out.
SUNDAY 11TH JUNE 2017: Jan Dara caused a huge stir when it was released, because of its sex-obsessed theme and explicit sexual scenes, which fully tested the bounds of the 1930 Film Act. It was tough to believe that the scandalous story, which has everything from adultery and incest to rape, abortion, lesbianism, was set in the 1930’s, and that the film was based on a novel which many consider to be one of the ‘20 Best Novels of Thailand.’
Infact the film was made by noted director Nonzee Nimibutr, one of the pioneers of the Thai new-wave cinema, and went on to win many of the top local Supannahong awards. The movie was also screened at many festivals around the world, from Toronto to Tokyo, London, Busan, Hawaii (where it won the Art Direction Award). A later version of the story was made in 2012, by another noteworthy director ML Bhandevanop Devakula, with a super-star cast, which had even more graphic scenes of sexuality!
Jan Dara is a social drama about the Thai aristocracy, which is a shocking indictment of their power-hungry and morally depraved lives.
Jan is a young boy who grows up in a dysfunctional family, headed by his father who uses women , from maids to mistresses, purely for his physical pleasure. Jan is himself initiated into the physical games pretty early by the various women in his grand house, and soon becomes both a pawn, and a clone of his father.
SUNDAY 17TH JUNE 2017: “Down the River” is a simple but thought-provoking domestic, moral, sports, psychological drama-call it what you will. It is the debut movie of a talented film-maker from a country that is creating waves on the international festival circuit. The director spent more than four years to write the script, and depended on crowd-funding, to raise money for his new film.
The story of the movie centers around Ali, the coach of a young rowing team in a small town. The team includes his son Ruslan who finds he can’t match his father’s strict standards and can’t connect with him. That’s because Ali is going through a mid-life crisis, where he wants to leave his wife Leyla, and start a new life with his Polish girlfriend Sasha. When an important race comes up, Ali removes his son from the team and opts for another student, which upsets his son very much. Soon after this, a drastic tragedy occurs, which makes Ali totally distraught. The river which was his vocation, now becomes his atonement.
SUNDAY 18TH JUNE 2017: “When Love Comes” is a strong and moving story of a unique Chinese extended family who live together in an old district of Taipei, and run a restaurant below, where many comings and goings happen, from daily gambling to police-bribing. The family has many individuals of different generations – the father who is always drunk, an autistic brother, aged father, a first wife who is infertile, a mistress who is accepted by the first wife, so that he can have children, her two grown kids, including a rebellious daughter, who is the chief protagonist of the movie. In a multi-generation family like this, many clashes and differences of opinion occur. But the diverse family members all go through a painful but enlightening process of change.
SATURDAY 24TH JUNE 2017: Animal Town is part of the ‘Town Trilogy’ of noted Korean director Kyuhwan JEON, the other two movies being Mozart Town before this, and Dance Town, after. They all deal with the isolation of individuals living in big towns.
In this film, the two lead characters are troubled, isolated individuals, living on the edge. Sungchul OH is a convicted pedophile, who is out on parole and still wears an ankle-bracelet on his foot, for the authorities to keep track of him. He tries to work hard and to stay cool and calm, even though he feels disturbed seeing a little girl on the street. Hyeongdo KIM also tries to lead a normal life with his wife, even though they have suffered a terrible tragedy. One day he spots Sungchul OH, recognizes him, and begins to stalk him.
SUNDAY 25TH JUNE 2017: “Queen” is a refreshing and ravishing movie about Rani (which means ‘Queen’ in Hindi), a naive young Indian bride who is devastated when her fiance calls their marriage off. But she suddenly decides to go on her European honeymoon on her own! It is a journey of self-discovery and self-growth, as she visits Paris and Amsterdam, has many amazing adventures, good and bad, meets many incredible individuals, Indian and foreign, and returns a changed person. That’s when her fiancé re-enters her life.