Category Archives: Mumbai Film Festival

16th Mumbai Film Festival – Inbetween Worlds (Zwischen Welten)

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam

Some like to consider that Cinema is a tool to experience something as it is at the convenience of your own. Cinema takes us to places we wouldn’t visit otherwise, make us familiar with the people living over there and develops a bond with that culture. Zwischen Welten introduced me to a German Soldier named Jesper (Ronald Zehrfeld) and an Afghani interpreter Tarik (Mohsin Ahmady). And above all, the character that is more important than both of them – war.

Jesper voluntarily signs up to lead a mission in Afghanistan keeping aside the fact that he lost his brother in the same country. To overcome the language barrier, Jesper takes help of a young and inexperienced interpreter – Tarik. Jesper struggles to win the trust of the locals and also the Afghani militia. At the same time Tarik and his younger sister who is studying engineering receive constant threats for helping the troops.

Trailer here.

The film makes a fairly positive representation of the German soldiers contrary to that by the local and international public. The film celebrates the gradual alliance between Jesper and Tarik hinting the possibility of peaceful coexistence. The film approaches its climax as the protagonist has to make a moral decision.

Having watched quite a few films based on war in the recent days, I feel this film by actor turned director Feo Aladag is an excellent representation of the humanitarian perspective to the world.

(Spoilers ahead)


 

A few remarkable notes from the film:

As the poster suggests, that crossing has a very important significance in the film. This similar frame appears two times in the film. The first time just before Tarik visits Jesper before the commencement of his job as an interpreter and the second time just before Tarik gets shot for working for the “wrong side”.

Jesper and his troops find a cow stuck in barbed wire at night. Jesper commands to shoot that cow and put him out of his misery. The locals do not accept this incident as a sign of mercy towards the animal. They refuse to accept the interference of a foreign force. As a sign of fear of being ruled by someone else. They refuse to accept the foreign ideologies and morals.

Tarik’s sister wants to attend college. She wants to learn and be an engineer, shaping the future of Afghanistan. But her ambition is crushed under the economic and political instability of the country.


 

The performance by both, Ronald Zehrfeld and Mohsin Ahmady is beyond doubt one of the elements of the film that actually grips the audience. Their chemistry on screen deserves a special mention. The bond that connects these two characters is the theme of the film and for me it worked wonderfully.

We have seen War through a woman’s perspective before in the Academy Award winning film The Hurt Locker. And I feel it is important to note the way the focus of the film is not just on the explosions but their aftermath. The repercussions of war that spare nobody. It critiques the tendency of humans to force ideologies on the masses. It asks you a question whether power and control achieve anything good towards the end.

The film Inbetween Worlds is a strong, affecting drama. It is a depiction of the current situation in Afghanistan with a mild touch of tragedy. The film portrays a country which enjoyed a vibrant culture once but now is completely torn apart by war. It is sad to see a low rating on IMDb for this one. But if by any chance you get to see it, this one is an important one.

 

 

16th Mumbai Film Festival – Lessons in Dissent

“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
Albert Einstein

There are two kinds of people in the world. The first kind is just like you and me. Whatever comes by our way, thrown by our superiors; we accept it. We are at the receiving end. And then there are people who consider it as their responsibility to be the change.

Lessons in dissent is a documentary by Director Matthew Torne and it was screened in the Real Reel section at the festival. The film is a portrayal of the fight of a few Hong Kongers against political oppression. The film mainly revolves around the group named Scholarism. It is a group of secondary school students formed to serve as an alliance against Moral & National Education.

Opening Sequence here

Trailer here

To be very frank, I did not intend to watch this documentary. I wanted to attend another film and I had to enter this screening as I couldn’t catch my desired show. After checking out the opening sequence I was quite amazed that the film is a non fiction film. It was quite unbelievable to see a 15 year old Joshua Wong addressing an audience of 1,00,000 Hong Kongers with such an aggression. When I was 15, my goals, my dreams were completely different. Witnessing the passion of these school going kids was totally exhilarating.

The film, is a completely political film with a one sided message. Judging from the film itself it appears that the school kids and their activism is a representation of all good against evil. My lack of knowledge regarding the subject prevents me from making any judgement out of it but I have a belief that every coin has two sides.

What I really admire about the film is, to convey the message in an appropriate manner, the maker has taken full liberty of using lots of text emphasizing subject matter and directing the audience. Also, the whole documentary is divided into chapters (lessons) justifying the fact that the film is against compulsory national education and the government interference in it.

The film lacks those stunning shots which would give it any acknowledgement as a brilliantly shot film. But it is surely a very well organized and a daring film altogether. This is taking run and gun to the next level. I could only imagine the kind of problems a film maker with western background would face while shooting such a sensitive subject in a country like China.

One has to admire this format of storytelling; a real hard hitting documentary. It acquainted me with so many social issues in Hong Kong and in China as well. It introduced me to the culture gave me a glimpse of the power of the youth. And at no point it made an attempt to preach any particular thought. Apart from a really important subject, the film also is important in the documentary films genre.