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International Film Festival of Kerala: Old and new directors make mark, controversy over official and a lock of hair causes a stir…

International Film Festival of Kerala:  Old and new directors make mark, controversy over official and a lock of hair causes a stir…

Here’s the lowdown on the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala – controversy was stirred…

By Rodrigues C

HOSTED by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy on behalf of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala, the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) wound up on December 16 in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital.


The fest, which started on December 9 showcased 184 movies from 70 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America as well as Indian cinema in 17 categories such as World Cinema, Country Focus, Festival Kaleidoscope, Jury Films, Shiver Shiver, Chaos and Control Cinema of Emir Kusturica, Light And Shadows Of FW Murnau, Paul Schrader Retrospective, The Surreal Cinema of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Auteur Odes.

Siddharth Chauhan with acv

There were also performances by sitar wizard Purbayan Chatterjee, singers Pradeep Kumara, Nimisha Salim and Atul Narukara, and the bands Janu, Thamarassery Churam and Chumaduthangi.

There were two wins for directors have interviewed – Mahesh Narayan’s ‘Ariyippu’ (‘Declaration’) won Best Malayalam Film (see our London Film Festival interview) and Siddharth Chauhan won Best Debut Director for his taboo-busting Indian drama, ‘Amar Colony‘ (See our interview with Siddharth Chauhan)

The fest was marred by protests by students seeking the ouster of KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts director Shankar Mohan allegedly due to his arrogant behaviour, caste bias and for forcing sanitation workers to do domestic work at his official bungalow. The protests received support from several film personalities.

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam‘ (Malayalam)

State Chalachithra Academy chairman, filmmaker Ranjith was booed during his address at the closing ceremony due to the arrest of a few delegates, who were denied tickets for Mammootty’s film ‘Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’ despite having reservations and waiting in queue for hours.
Belgian refugee and Cannes World premiere drama ‘Tori and Lokita’ opened the festival. Directed by brothers Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the film screened in India for the first time.

Tori and Lokita (about child refugees in Belgium)

The Retrospective section screened the works of German, Serbian and Chilean-French filmmakers FW Murnau, Emir Kusturica and Alejandro Jodorowsky respectively.

Fourteen films such as ‘Hoopoe’ (Iran), ‘Concerned Citizen’ (Israel), ‘Cordially Yours’ (Brazil), ‘Convenience Store’ (Russian/Slovenia), ‘Tug of War’ (Tanzania), ‘Klondike’ (Ukraine), ‘Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’ (Malayalam), ‘Ariyippu’ (Malayalam), ‘Ek Jagah Apni’ (Hindi) and ‘Eikhoigi Yum’ (Manipuri) were screened in the International Competition section.

The Malayalam Cinema Today section had 12 films including ‘Pada’, ‘Normal’, ‘Thousand and One Lies’, ‘Great Depression’ and ‘Freedom Fight’.

Anur‘ (Assamese)

The Storyteller’ (Hindi), ‘Opium’ (Hindi), ‘Anur’ (Assamese), ‘Niharika’, ‘Shesh Pata’ (Bengali) and ‘Jaggi’ (Punjabi) were part of the Indian Cinema Now category.

Six films – ‘Working Class Heroes’, ‘Far As I Can Walk’, ‘Father’, ‘Oasis’, ‘Cross in the Dessert’ and ‘The Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ – were showcased from Serbia, which was the Focus Country this year.

Kim Ki-duk’s ‘Call of God’, Bahman Ghobadi’s ‘Four Walls’, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Broker’ and Fatih Akin’s ‘Rheingold’ had their India premieres.

G Aravindan’s ‘Thampu’ was screened in the Reinstated Classic Category – it screened in Cannes earlier this year and we interviewed leading actor Jelega and there was also a special screening of veteran Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s ‘Swayamvaram’, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Working Class Heroes

For the first time, the event included a section of five silent films – ‘The Parson’s Widow’ (Sweden, 1920), ‘The Phantom Carriage’ (Sweden, 1921), ‘The Woman Men Yearn For’ (Germany, 1929), ‘Nosferatu’ (Germany, 1922) and ‘Foolish Wives’ (US, 1922). The screening of these films was accompanied by a live piano session by Jonny Best, resident pianist at the BFI Southbank cinema house in the UK.

Tributes were paid also to Jean-Luc Godard, scriptwriters John Paul and TP Rajeevan, director GS Panicker, actor Prathap Pothen, cinematographer Pappu and producer Atlas Ramachandran at the Homage section.

The Turin Horse’ (Hungarian)

Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr, who attended despite health issues, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Six of his films, including ‘Werckmeister Harmonies’ and ‘The Turin Horse’ were part of a package titled, The Melancholy Worlds of Bela Tarr.

Mahnaz Mohammadi speaking to ACV in 2019

The Kerala government also presented the Spirit of Cinema Award to Iranian filmmaker-activist Mahnaz Mohammadi, who sent a lock of hair to the event because she couldn’t attend it as her passport wasn’t renewed. Greek filmmaker and jury member Athina Rachel Tsangari, who accepted the award on behalf of Mohammadi, held the lock of hair as the audience burst into loud applause.

Mohammadi talked to us at the International Film Festival of India in 2019 – here’s our interview about her exceptional fictional ‘Mother-Son’.

Winners at IFFK 2022

Suvarna Chakoram Award for Best Film – ‘Utama’ directed by Alejandro Loayza Grisi (Bolivia)
Best Malayalam Film – ‘Ariyippu’ directed by Mahesh Narayanan
Best Asian Film – ‘Alam’ directed by Firas Khoury (France, Tunisia, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar)
Rajata Chakoram Award for Best Director – Tayfun Pirselimoglu for ‘Kerr’ (Turkey, Greece, France)
FFSI KR Mohanan Award for Best Debut Director (India) – Siddharth Chauhan for ‘Amar Colony’ (Hindi)
Audience poll award – Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam (Malayalam) directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery
FIPRESCI award for the Best International Film and NETPAC JURY Special Mention Award – ‘Eikhoigi Yum’ (Manipuri) directed by Mayanglambam Romi Meitei

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture