Kazhcha Indie Film Fest gives a platform for indie movies

  • By Hindu
  • | Thursday | 7th December, 2017

Even as the curtain goes up for the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) today, the city is hosting another film fête as well — Kazhcha Indie Film Fest (KIFF). Organised by Kazhcha Film Forum (Kazhcha Chalachitra Vedi) and Niv Art Movies, the four-day festival has a bouquet of 14 films and four documentaries. In the coming years we want KIFF to evolve as a platform to showcase films of substance and of resistance. “It is true that we are organising this as a protest against many independent movies being neglected in the festival circuit. Other Malayalam movies to be screened are Vithu by Don Palathara, Thooppu by Sandeep Adhikari and Richter Scale 7.6 by Jeeva K.J.

It’s a double bonanza for cineastes. Even as the curtain goes up for the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) today, the city is hosting another film fête as well — Kazhcha Indie Film Fest (KIFF). Organised by Kazhcha Film Forum (Kazhcha Chalachitra Vedi) and Niv Art Movies, the four-day festival has a bouquet of 14 films and four documentaries.

The trigger for the fete was non-inclusion of certain indie films in the IFFK. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s decision to take out his latest movie, S Durga, from IFFK, after it was included in the ‘Malayalam Cinema Today’ section, sowed seeds of resistance and dissension among filmmakers and film buffs.

However, Sanal, secretary of the Forum, does not feel that the KIFF will take the sheen off IFFK. “It is true that we are organising this as a protest against many independent movies being neglected in the festival circuit. But it is not meant to antagonise anybody. In the coming years we want KIFF to evolve as a platform to showcase films of substance and of resistance. Cinema is going through a transition period. Unfortunately, there is a section of people who are ignorant about the change and still follow an outdated selection process. So we are bringing in those films that were rejected by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy in spite of many of them getting recognition and being screened at other reputed film festivals,” says Sanal.

Indie films and their makers are changing the scene in Malayalam cinema. Even though many of the films failed to get theatres in Kerala to screen their films, the critically acclaimed works travelled to film festivals and garnered prestigious awards. These films are shifting the dialogue from populist mainstream cinema to hard-hitting themes on caste, gender, poverty, religion and politics. And KIFF is hoping to get an audience for such filmmakers who are taking the roads less travelled.

The line-up

Malayalam movie Karie directed by Shanavas Naranippuzha is the inaugural film. A satire, it is a commentary on the caste system and the resultant power play in society, narrated through the journey of two men through Kerala, against the backdrop of a ritualistic dance form, Karinkaliyattam.

Other Malayalam movies to be screened are Vithu by Don Palathara, Thooppu by Sandeep Adhikari and Richter Scale 7.6 by Jeeva K.J. Each of the films is subversive and makes no attempt to pander to any kind of commercial pretensions or niceties.

While Vithu explores the conflict between two generations, a father and a son, Thooppu, is about abuse of different kinds in churches. Richter Scale 7.6 ruminates on the disintegrating ecological balance and how it affects all living beings.

Films from the North-East are another highlight. Most of the films veer away from the popular narrative to tackle subaltern themes and throw light on rare vignettes of the seven sisters.

Sonar Baran Pakhi (The Golden Wing), India’s first film in Rajbangshi (Bengali-Assamese) language, is a biopic on legendary folk singer Pratima Baruah Pandey, who was born into a royal family, but gave up all comforts to learn and propagate the folk songs of the region.

Assamese film Kothanodi, starring the brilliant Adil Hussain and Seema Biswas, is an adaptation of well-known Assamese fables, which deal with grim tales.

Haanduk is about against militarisation in the North East and illegal immigration. Ralang Road, a Nepali film from Sikkim, zooms in on the lives of those in the small town of Ralang.

Regional flavour

Other regional films at the fête include Marathi film Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani by Jiju Antony, which unravels the psyche of a murderer and a rapist. The Konkani film Juze tells the story of exploitation of immigrants in Goa through the eyes of a teenager. Pushpendra Singh’s Ashwatthama in the rarely picturised Braj language, meanwhile, is about a nine-year-old boy’s encounter with a myth.

The Hindi film Turup is a crowd-funded movie directed by Ektara Collective. In Chakki Chouraha in Bhopal, chess is a favourite pastime and with a cast of non-actors the movie uses the game to reflect on the social frame work. A Billion Colour Story, an English movie, looks at religious intolerance through the eyes of a child. Geethu Mohandas’ Liar’s Dice, a poignant narrative that looks at the plight of migrant labourers, closes the fête. The documentaries to be screened are An Insignificant Man, which traces the rise of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party, and Machines that unravels the gruesome working conditions in a fabric factory in Gujarat. Lijin Jose’s Eight-and-a-half Intercuts: Life and Films of K.G. George, which delves into the filmography of K.G. George and Cinema Vandi, which follows Cinema Vandi, an alternative distribution channel for independent movies.

Open for all

A highlight of the fête is the open forum, Bridge, which begins at 9 pm. “It is more like a bridge between the IFFK and KIFF as filmmakers and the audience can come together to discuss the films they watched at these festivals. It is an informal get-together over a cup of black tea,” says Sanal.

He says that the festival is intended to give a fillip to independent cinema. “Since the festival was planned at short notice we couldn’t go through a proper selection process. But from next year onwards, we will have a jury panel to choose the films. We will also be working in close association with film schools,” Sanal says.

Highlights

KIFF screenings are at Lenin Balavadi and Municipal Town Hall, Vazhuthacaud.

Anand Gandhi, director of Ship of Theseus, inaugurates the fete at 10 am today. Delegate passes are available at the venue for ?100.

Seminars and panel discussions are part of the fete. Anand Gandhi holds a seminar on Virtual Reality in films on December 9.

KIFF conducts a mobile cinema contest. The theme will be announced on December 9 and participants should submit their films, all shot using mobile phones, on December 10. Select movies will be screened on December 11.

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