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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com 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. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 

 

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IFFI 52, 013: Rest of the best

IFFI 52, 013: Rest of the best

Here are the details of all the winners at IFFI 52. The main prizes were covered in an earlier posting. 

Indian Marathi language actor Jitendra Bhikulal Joshi received a Silver Peacock as Best Actor (Male), for portraying late Marathi actor and film-maker Nishikant Kamat, in Godavari. In their citation, the jury said “…his brilliant performance made it flow like a river, from his rage to tears.”

The film summons viewers to join the spiritual journey of landlord Kamat, whose encounter with his own impending death takes him along a deep philosophical exploration of life and death. The International Jury noted that the troubled Nishikant’s fiery-eyed portrayal was engaging and mournful.

 

 

Besides the Silver Peacock, Joshi received a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh.

Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Female) went to Spanish Actor Angela Molina, for her role as Charlotte, in director Simon Franco’s eponymous film. “…a captivating performance which elicits sympathy and frustration in equal measure.

She depicted the surreal role of a yesteryear actress, who undertakes a Quixotic and life-changing journey to weave her past with the present, in the quest to craft a future of her dreams.

In its citation, the jury observed that Angela Molina is playing a character who as an aged Diva, is both manipulative and insecure. “She gives a performance that elicits sympathy and frustration in equal measure, and has a beguiling on-camera presence that captivated all of the jurors.” I most respectfully disagree with the Jury’s decision to award Molina. It was a passable performance in a confused film, often over-the-top.

 

 

Molina received the Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh.

Indian Marathi language film Godavari, by director Nikhil Mahajan, and the Brazilian actor Renata Carvalho, who has acted in director Rodrigo de Oliveira’s The First Fallen shared Silver Peacocks for the Special Jury Award.

The Special Jury Award is given to a film (for any aspect of the film which the jury wishes to award or acknowledge) or an individual (for his/her artistic contribution to a film). The award, when given to a film, is given to the director of the film.

Godavari is an unbelievable metaphoric depiction of the mighty river.

Nikhil Mahajan’s Godavari tells the story of one man’s philosophical quest to preserve age-old traditions and culture, inspired and triggered by his relationship with the river Godavari. Here is how the jury has characterised the film, which aims to provide posterity with a snapshot of the situation of the river in the year 2020. “Godavari is an unbelievable metaphoric depiction of mighty river Godavari, how, in changing time, rivers can become filthy.” The protagonist experiences fury and inner turmoil, reflecting on the extent of pollution in the holy river, which makes its water unsafe for drinking. The inner state of the lead character is depicted in a very powerful way through his own life-changing events, noted the jury.

 

The First Fallen is gay director Rodrigo de Oliveira’s passionate and courageous attempt to chronicle the untold stories of suffering and discrimination suffered by the sexual minorities (LGBTQIA+) in 1980s Brazil, shares. The film is a portrait of the past that is at once long gone as well as very current. The Brazilian actress and assistant director, Renata Carvalho, has received the Special Jury Award for her contribution to the film, which according to the jury, is “beyond just performance”. The jury commends her for making the complications of the situation and time of the society very authentic.

Russian film The Dorm/Obschaga, by director Roman Vasyanov, which brings out the travails of a group of friends who yearn to live a dignified life despite the corrupt system and people running their student dorm, received a Special Mention from the International Competition Jury. The jury found The Dorm, set in the erstwhile USSR, of 1984, to have been well-narrated, depicting the complicated and corrupted society through the eyes of a few young people living in a university complex. I humbly submit that this film did not deserve the special mention it got.

 

Director Mari Alessandrini’s Zahorí, the story of an intrepid young girl who revolts against school and parents in order to realise her dream of independence, bagged the IFFI 52 Award for Best Debut Feature Film of a Director. This is what the jury observed about the film. “Zahori is the name of the horse who yearns to be wild and free in this beautifully photographed film that captures the spirit of a rebellious child. Serious but sometimes witty and satirical, the debut director’s film lampoons religion and colonisation and gives respect to the organic indigenous people in an elegant and visually intelligent way.”

An 1814 story about the homecoming of a militia peasant and a fellow soldier, from the trenches of Chile’s war for independence, has received creditable attention from the jury. Spanish film The Wealth of the World/La Riqueza del Mundo, by debutant director and actor Simon Farriol, has received Special Mention from the Jury in the Debut Feature Film Competition Category. The jury remarked that the film has been shot like a surreal Salvador Dali-inspired reflection on the futility of war. The film is an astonishing experience, added the jury.

The International Competition Jury Chairperson and Iranian film-maker Rakhshān Banietemad  said that it was an amazing experience for the team to judge films drawn from a variety of different countries. Does the film have the power to move the audience and touch them deeply? Does it surprise them? Does it open up new dimensions or concepts of our shared human condition? Does it express the story effectively by effectively using the tools of the medium and the artistic merits, irrespective of the subjects the film deals with? These are some of the hallmarks against which the crème de la crème of international cinema has been chosen by the renowned members of the jury, as conveyed by Colombian Film Director and Jury member, Ciro Guerra.

The other members of the Jury were British film Producer and Director, Stephen Woolley, SriLankan Film-maker Vimukthi Jayasundara and Indian and Odian (from the state of Odisha) Film Director and Producer, Nila Madhab Panda.

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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 FilmFestivals.com 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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