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Monday, 14 February 2011






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Cinema: Minimal dialogues, sans sex and violence:

Thoughts beyond the box

Local movie fans have always possessed an unquenchable thirst for Western and Hindi films. Be it a Hollywood production by Steven Spielberg or James Cameron or a Hindi movie by Karan Johar or Sanjay Leela Bansali, long queues line up in front of the Majestic, Liberty, Savoy or Regal, eager to be among the first to share their views with friends.

Pouran Derakhshandeh. Picture by Rukmal Gamage

Sri Lankans got an opportunity to taste a new genre of movies when the Iranian Film Week showcased five movies by Iranian filmmaker Pouran Derakhshandeh.

A woman director who had made her mark in one which was once considered a male dominant field, Derakhshandeh shared her views on the close links of identity, culture and traditions between Sri Lanka and Iran with Daily News ‘Projector’. A director who had thought out of the box and brings movies sand violence and sex, it is hard to imagine how she managed a storyline without these aspects. Not only had she won praise from her nation but she had won applause beyond the portals of her homeland as well. The key to her success lies in her unique cinematic vision.

Cinema is full of images. There should be a storyline but cinema differs from other electronic entertainment features with its typical array of images or pictures.

I do not call a production with too many dialogues a cinematic creation,” Derakhshandeh opined on the few words spoken by the characters in her creations. For her action and pictures speak volumes.

“Cinema should embody a message that can trigger the social thinking process. It should give something for them to ponder.

In other words, the dialogue after the film show could erupt abruptly,” she explained.

Eternal Children

She is a firm believer that the cinematic trends that any filmmaker develops should aim at the local public first before aiming beyond the borders.

She adds, “We should not target international acclamation. We need to win the hearts and minds of the local fans. Let’s assume that films get global acknowledgement first. The film directors will be praised for their work in foreign countries and festivals but that alone is not enough. If local people are not going to accept your creation then all is lost.

My policy is to target our audience first and then aim for the global film industry.”

Candle in the Wind

Queried about the lack of sex scenes in Iranian cinema Derakhshandeh noted that these scenes are not a necessary ingredient in making a successful production. “There are instances that our filmmakers imply this fact. We use symbolic methods. There is no rule that says that a sex scene is essential for a story. We need to look at this form of art in a deeper sense than with a narrow perspective,” she noted. Love and harmony is a central aspect in her creations.

She employs the concept of family which is the smallest unit of society to address what she wants.

Though Western media portray Iranian women as a suppressed group it is not the actual situation there. Women play a constructive role in Iranian society. They are heading in all spheres and engaging in all forms of occupations. The role played by Derakhshandeh bears an ample testimony of the Iranian woman’s contribution not only towards developing the aesthetic tastes and minds of the Iranian society but global cinema as well.


Romantic reel rides

Movies to share with your Valentine:

With Valentines around it is time to be juvenile again. It is the time to arouse your passionate senses and put your romantic agendas in to practice. It is the season to mend your broken hearts, patch broken relationship or else even propose to the girl in your dreams. If not the ideal way to lighten up your jovial spirits would be to spend the evening with your mate and get lost in the warmth of a good old fashioned romantic comedy.

If you are longing for an uplifting, refreshing, evening of romance wrap yourself around 2010’s hit Leap Year.

The story revolves around Anna (Amy Adams) who goes on a daringly radical trip to Dublin to proposing to her reluctant boyfriend on the Irish Leap Day.

According to Irish tradition, Leap Day which falls on February 29 gives woman a rare to chance to propose to her boyfriend. Anna seizes this opportunity and takes up the challenge to go all the way up to Dublin to propose to her reluctant boyfriend Jeremy. Yet her journey to Dublin was no smooth ride. On her way to Dublin, she meets Declan the mysteriously charismatic inn keeper who helps her with her journey. With Declan to keep her company, the journey turns on to an exciting and adventurous ride filled with romance and passion.

The genre of romantic comedy has evolved a lot since old times. The stories are no longer constricted to monotonous boy meets the girl, goes through the break up and then come back together type of themes.

The genre has evolved in modern times to the extent that film directors use it to good effect to express much broader themes as well.

One such fine example would be 2009’s box office hit The Ugly Truth. Robert Luketic, the director who amused you with hit movies such as Legally Blond and Monster in Law brings The Ugly Truth, a movie which makes a very amusing, witty, hilarious and enlightening discourse on modern day relationships. The movie while highlighting the ugly truth behind the most romantic affairs, also questions the stereotypic, skeptical attitude we have towards the modern day relationships.

The story revolves around the popular television talk show host Mike Chadway(Gerald Butler). Mike is presented as stubborn, self-conceited, arrogant talk show host who wouldn’t shy away from expressing his honest, radical ideologies when it comes to matters of love. At one point he bluntly says, “Women would have us believe that they are the victims; that we break their hearts for sport. They say they want romance, they say they want true love, but all they want is a check list. Is he perfect? Is he handsome? Is he a doctor? Money over substance looks over soul, polished over principles.

No gesture, no matter how real or romantic will ever compensate for a really impressive list of credentials.”

Then we are introduced to rebellious Abbie (Katherine Hiegl), who after watching Mike’s show tries to express her own ideas against Mike’s views.

She challenges Mike to prove his theories. Mike surprisingly takes up the challenge and helps her to win the guy that she likes, only to discover that he himself has fallen for the Abbie’s charms.

However the film not only amuses you with both rib-breaking and subtle laughter, but also makes your mind ponder on some controversial, stereotypical views about modern day affairs.

Probably it might even help you to look back and have a good understanding about the state of your own relationship as well.

Wildscreen Festival

Wildlife and environmental films from across the world will be showcased at the Wildscreen Festival which will be held at the British Council from February 14 to 18. Some of these films are winners of the Panda Awards, nicknamed the green Oscars. Around 12 filmmakers from the UK will be coming to India and Sri Lanka to take part in the event. Some Sri Lankan documentaries will also be screened.

The Wildscreen Festival was founded by Sir Peter Scott in 1982 and has been organised every alternate year for the past 25 years.

It is the world’s largest and most prestigious wildlife and environmental film festival. Held in Bristol, the world’s centre for wildlife filmmaking, it attracts hundreds of delegates from around the globe who work in film, television and the press, as well as those actively involved in working to conserve the environment.

The Wildscreen Festival came to Sri Lanka in 2009 when it toured Colombo as a part of a touring festival covering Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore.

The program included nine filmmakers, 18 workshops, and 17 film screenings across five cities.

This year the festival will visit Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Colombo. The two day event on February 17 and 18 will comprise free master classes on various aspects of filmmaking by three UK filmmakers Amanda Theunisseen, Dolmic Weston and Martin Elsbury and Wildscreen UK co-ordinator, Charlotte Ackrill.

These will cover topics such as Trends in Wildlife and Environmental Filmmaking, The Magic Art of Storytelling, Short Films and Film Editing, amongst others.

Award winning films on climate change and wildlife will also be screened during the festival. They will be joined by three Sri Lankan film professionals – Taya Diaz, Delon Weerasinghe and Anoma Rajakaruna who will also conduct master classes and share the Sri Lankan perspective on documentary film making and their case studies with the audiences. The UK and local filmmakers will share their views at a panel discussion on ‘Differences and mutual challenges in Asian, American and European productions/film making’, which will be open to the public free-of-charge and will be held on February 17 at 5.30 pm at the British Council Colombo.

On February 19, TVE Asia Pacific will present a selection of films on environment and sustainable development drawn from their global catalogue, which includes some Sri Lankan and South Asian titles.

The Department of Wildlife and Conservation in Sri Lanka will also present a series of short documentaries on local flora and fauna including wildlife sanctuaries.

Wildscreen Chief Executive Richard Edwards said, “We are delighted that Wildscreen is returning to India and Sri Lanka again this year to further develop our relationship with local audiences and filmmakers.

India and Sri Lanka are key destinations for Wildscreen’s Outreach Program because of the region’s rich filmmaking heritage, and because, like many other areas of the world, the natural environment is under threat from rapid economic development and climate change.”

Admission to film screenings and master classes is free and open to the public. Participation in master classes requires prior registration.

To register and for details call Thushara or Lakmaal on 4521583 or visit www.britishcouncil.lk/wildscreen

Le Voyage en Arménie at AF Kandy

Le Voyage en Arménie (Journey to Armenia), a French movie with English subtitles will be screening on February 19 at 3.30 pm at the Alliance Francaise de Kandy. Directed by Robert Guédiguian, the movie runs for nearly two hours.

Barsam, Anna’s father, is seriously ill. Before he dies, he would like to bequeath something to his daughter: a sense of doubt. As he flees to Armenia, he leaves several clues in his wake so that Anna can come after him. For Anna, this journey she is obliged to make in an unknown country becomes what her father wanted it to be: an initiation, a sentimental journey, a second adolescence… She finds him in a little village, lost in the Caucasian mountains, seated dreaming under a blossoming apricot tree... She will come to doubt her identity, her relationships and her commitments...





Foy casts spells

Season of the Witch hits Majestic cinema:

Nicolas Cage

Claire Foy is a major talent. She is a fantastic actress, strikingly beautiful and she has an amazing personality. Best of all, she is starring opposite Nicolas Cage as “the Witch” in Season of the Witch. While she may be appearing opposite thespians, Claire steals the show with her wild and terrifying performance.

Here are excerpts of an interview with the talented leading lady of the movie.

What brought you to this role?

My evil side [Laughing]… I mean, I don’t know. I did the audition, they liked my take… and then I got the job. That was it really. It was a shocker to me as much as everyone else. I’m very grateful because it turned out to be a really great job and I loved it.

How did you approach this role as opposed to something like Little Dorrit or your work in Going Postal?

Well it’s all pretty much the same really, for me, weirdly I suppose; Little Dorrit was more of a stretch than Season of the Witch, in a weird way. Because Amy was so internal and with Season I felt I was able to do more and with Amy it was about doing less all the time. But just in exactly the same way you take every character on its own merits in the same way. I did just the same amount of work for them as I did for Season of the Witch, lots of research and it has to all come together…

 Claire Foy

What kind of research did you do for this?

It was just reading things about witchcraft and watching videos and that sort of thing. Or finding out about the time and what the circumstances would be like. Familiarizing yourself with the time and the circumstances of the character. Which all helps when you get kind of set in the world there.

What was the best part of playing this kind of character for you; the witch type, powerful, bad girl must have been fun?

Yeah, all the things you said really, playing such a powerful character. Playing a character that was making things happen, and mainly in control of an entire group of men. And for once, be the character that is completely in the know about everything. There is nothing that she doesn’t know. Nothing is a surprise. And she is able to deal with every single situation that arises the way that she sees fit. And I think that was quite refreshing to be able to play a character that wasn’t entirely beholden to everyone else. And to play a masculine role, because it really is a masculine role.

And you get to work with Nicolas Cage.

Of course. It was brilliant. From day one he was so lovely and so supportive and so kind. iamrogue.com

Hanks to present Oscars

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks will be one of many celebrities on hand to present at the 2011 Academy Awards which will take place on February 27.

Hanks is a governor of the Academy and won consecutive Best Actor Oscars in 1993 and 1994 for his work in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. The actor also lent his voice to this year’s Academy Award-nominee for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature, Toy Story 3.

Others set to present at the 2011 Academy Awards include Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jr, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Marisa Tomei and Oprah Winfrey. Anne Hathway and James Franco are set to co-host the ceremony, which will take place in Los Angeles. OTRC



Sundara Birinda returns

A scene from Sundara Birinda

T Yoganadan’s 1960s movie Sundara Birinda had been recomposed by Tissan Nagodavithana at Dil Studio, Thalangama.

Now movie buffs will get the opportunity to see Ravindra Rupasena, Leena de Silva, Ananda Jayaratne, Claris de Silva, L M Perera, Rita Ratnayake and others in action again. Jabeer A carder is the producer of the film.



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