The Cannes epidemic is spreading. This year's Palme d'Or contenders feature some of the heavyweights of world cinema. Kaurismaki, Almodovar, Von Trier, Miike, The Dardenne Brothers, Mallick, they're all there but the bookies are clearly rooting for Naomi Kawase and Nuri Bilge Ceylan at 4-1 and 11-2 respectively. Perhaps, Weerasethakul's upset last year made everybody root for the underdogs this year? Much like Weerasethakul, Ceylan and Kawase have both won other awards at Cannes previously. We shall have to wait and see what DeNiro and Co., have to say about this.
"Two" is an issue built on found objects. The fantastic 2-part transcript of Govind Nihalani's talk with Celluloid Chapter was taken from an old book that Projectorhead's founder Anuj Malhotra found in a neglected carton box in a book fair at Pragati Maidan in Delhi. This 80-page 'booklet' was published by the now-defunct film society based out of Jamshedpur, Celluloid Chapter. Anuj had also tracked down one of the integral segments of the film society, Mr. Samik Bandyopadhyay to ask him permission to use extracts from the book for our second issue. We were in luck, Mr. Bandyopadhyay was currently in Delhi as visiting professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University so we decided to pay him a visit.
Mr. Bandyopadhyay gave us a brief insight into the history of Celluloid Chapter and the incredible role they played in keeping cinephilia alive in the 1980s and 1990s. The most remarkable activity of the film society was the 're-construction' of a film's script by watching the completed film frame by frame. The film society would actually borrow prints of the film from the director and someone would watch it on a Steenback over three shifts and write a script. This script would then be sent back to the film's director for approval and corrections. Once, the approved script was received, it would be sent to print.
Anuj and I listened carefully to Mr. Bandyopadhyay as he told us how 'Shyam' and 'Girish' and 'Govind' were always encouraging of the film society's activities and how he plans to update most of his old documentation with newer interviews, done in the present time, several decades later. At the end of our brief meeting, it was encouraging to know that Celluloid Chapter was in the process of a revival.
We had the great pleasure of attending Govind Nihalani's masterclass at last year's International Film Festival of India. It was actually a masterclass on sound by Resul Pookutty and Mr. Nihalani was the host but he spoke as much as Pookutty did (or perhaps even more). His insights into filmmaking transcend a purely cinematographer's point of view and infiltrate every possible side of filmmaking. In his talk (and in the book), he covers everything from writing, funding, casting, art directing, photographing, scoring and editing a film. I hope with the republication of his wisdom, we can remind people of his accomplishments.
Anuj also has a great piece on Krysztof Kieslowski's first six documentary films. Over the period of the month he had watched these films and is currently in the process of watching six more for a follow up piece, slated to appear in "Three". Ankan Kazi has a very interesting piece with a lavish title, "Death of the Auteur." He focuses on two essentially European films, Summer Hours and The Father of My Children and takes a look at the end of the type of European arthouse cinema that we so fondly identify with the works of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni. I take a brief, 'over the top of my head' look at the rise of the Working Class cinema in the western world.
The issue rounds up with a book review of another 'found' book, Satyajit Ray's Our Films, Their Films. I had found this book in my father's private library and it has his signature on the first page and carries the date- 27th April, 1992. This piece is also a little tribute to Ray on the occasion of his 90th birth anniversary (May 2nd, 2011). Finally, we have our monthly capsule reviews - this time we have reviewed 11 films that were recent releases.
In closing, I would like to pay my respects to the passing of a cinematic giant last month- Sidney Lumet. Alas! Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) will be the last offering from the master filmmaker and what a film it is! Sidney, thanks for the movies, we will cherish your films for a long, long time.