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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



IFFI 50: Press conference of the opening film, Despite the Fog

IFFI 50: Press conference of the opening film, Despite the Fog

The 50th edition of the International Film Festival of India began in Goa on November 20 with the screening of the Italian film, Despite the Fog. Speaking at the press conference with the cast and crew, Director Goran Paskaljevic, who has also served as Jury head at the 44th edition of IFFI, said, that the film looks at the ‘serious issue revolving around minor (child) refugees in Europe. “It’s an intimate story. There are many films already done on the subject. But this is a story about whether people accept or don’t accept refugees in Europe, and most cases they don’t. It serves as a metaphor to explore the xenophobic fog prevalent in the region,” he said.

The director also used the film to explore his own thoughts on the refugee problem. “I also thought about what would I do if I was driving by and saw an abandoned or a refugee kid? Would I take him with me? Or leave him. That’s how I developed the story,” he added.

Mariella Li Sacchi, one of the producers, also speaking at the conference, stated that she had admired Goran’s work and when she got a ‘chance to read the screenplay, she loved it.’ “The film isn’t a mainstream film, but a political statement. The theme speaks about the big problem in Europe, and especially in Italy. It gets worse every day. I liked that the film didn’t have a documentary style but poetic approach,” Sacchi said.

Ali Mousa, the little star who played the refugee in the film confided, “I was happy because Goran helped me. I learned from the big actors how to promote the film.” Director Paskaljevic explained that it was very tough for Mousa, since, in real-life, he spoke fluent Italian, but in the film he was playing an immigrant who does not understand a word of the language.

When asked about finding a solution to the refugee problem, the director said that the only way forward was ‘not to create wars.’ “No one wants to leave their homes, friends and culture,” he opined.

The film journeys into the plight of refugees who are abandoned on the streets. In the film, Paolo, a manager at a restaurant, finds an eight-year-old child on the cold streets and decides to take him home. The director delves into how society reacts to the presence of the ‘alien’ child.

The Asian première at IFFI 2019 had the actors Paolo Triestino and Alessandra Cotogno present.

Award winning Serbian director Paskaljevic, who has worked in countless films, also spoke briefly about the film he made in India, in 2016, Dev Bhoomi (Land of the Gods). It was distributed on Amazon Prime and had 10 million views across the world. “This is my love letter to India. It was shot in Uttarkhand and had a very simple yet emotional story,” he said, about how he fell in love in India. The film starred Victor Banerjee, Geetanjali Thapa, Raj Zutshi, Uttara Baokar, V.D. Sharma, Avijit Dutt, S.P. Mamgain, Ambar Kant, Priya Sharma and Sohaila Kapur and had Hindi, English, Garhwali dialogue.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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