The Tress of Hair
By Panchali Kar
Image (above) from “The Tress of Hair”
Lisa Solotsinskya’s short film “The Tress of Hair”, bridges the gap between conscious and subconscious self of human mind; a cloverleaf between reality and imagination. The central character of the movie may seem abnormal to the people of the rest of the world, who have their predefined sets of right and wrong; the protagonist however does not hesitate to question the conventional sense of ‘normal’.
The movie begins with the conversation between the protagonist and his psychological counselor. The protagonist apprises about his obsession over the tress of hair which he found within a antique chest in a curio shop. He feels connected with the lustrous locks and believes that it has some connection with his past life. Soon the core purpose of his life, his being, gets entwined within the locks of hair and he finds his beloved within the tress of hair, just like a spark of life within the maze of absurdities. For him the tress of hair is his beloved who gives him the meaning of life; the jubilation which he has been looking for.
From Lisa Solotsinskya’s, “The Tress of Hair”
To the conscious world, his emotions are lunatic and he’s a madman striding with long hair locks in his hand, towards a destination of complete insanity. They can’t think beyond their conscious capabilities, and therefore are unaware of the vast whirlpool of possibilities that our minds could conceive. The movie ends with a positive note that the counselor gives him his tress of hair back to him, allowing him to explore the abundance of his subconscious.
The Tress of Hair does complete justice in the departments of cinematography, performance and story progression. Every single shot is a neatly framed photograph in itself. The intimate shots and the close ups are poetic. White dominates the colour palate, giving a subtle tone to the entire movie. The actors have done a brilliant job. Very interesting use of back ground score and silenceto differentiate between reality and imagination. The director deserves a huge round of applause for choosing an unconventional, abstract subject and translating it into a fine piece of art.
THE MOUNTAIN WITHIN
”It begins with a dream. A mountain in our minds. When we dream, we fly. And when we wake…the chase begins.”
By E. J. Wickes
Image (above) from The Mountain Within
Before commenting on this compelling three and a half minute film entitled, ”The Mountain Within”I thought it prudent to do a little research on Géraldine Fasnacht. A world renowned snowboarder and base jumper, this lady has made a name for herself in one of the deadliest new extreme sports to date: Wingsuit Flying. What we don’t get from the feature is any mention of the tragic Speedflying accident that took her husband’s life in 2006. In this crisply produced drone film by Philippe Woodtli, the attitude and demeanor of Ms. Fasnacht would never lead you to believe that there was any hesitation on her part to resume this exceptionally demanding sport.
In overcoming the loss of her husband one might assume that the title of the film has more personal significance to Géraldine than just the obvious metaphor of the mountain’s intimidating height; which is captured very well by the director and drone operator. If I was watching this film in an IMAX theater, my white-knuckled fingers would be clutching the seat to hold on. The mountain shots are vast and intimidatingly spacious, as if the camera is from the POV of your own dream flight or astral projection.
Are drones the wave of the future when it comes to filmmaking? It would seem so, but with the convenience also comes aerodynamics, and wind shear issues. Some camera drone pilots won’t brave more than a 15 mph wind speed. Imagine the difficulty in navigating a drone at such a high altitude when considering the random gusts of wind one might face along the crest of a mountain.
This is a larger than life piece wrapped up nicely in a tight little package. Philippe Woodtli’s camera gives us considerably more than the rudimentary panoramic and aerial shots approaching horizon after horizon that we typically see from many drone films today.
The swift editing was almost akin to watching one’s life pass before them. The wide rotating shot spiraling out from a distance of Géraldine standing alone on the narrow precipice is a reminder of our insignificance in contrast to the magnificence of the mountains. Our minuscule place in the Universe is driven home by the miraculous depth of field caught by the drone’s camera. While all along that little voice inside of us awakens and for 3 minutes and thirty eight seconds, we are completely unanchored.
BLUES AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT
“Our stories influence our philosophy.
Philosophy determines outlook.
Outlook builds character.
Character provokes rightful thoughts.
Thoughts precede our actions.
Actions lead to specific outcomes.
Multiple outcomes pave our destiny.
Destiny shapes our stories.
Such is the circle of life.”
– Ashok Gazula
By Victor Eustáquio
Image (above) from “Blues Ain’t Nothin But”
A fun-filled weekend trip with three friends is interrupted by an unexpected turn of events. These lead E’moni, the female member of the trio, to discover the truth of who her friends really are when they have to face the challenge between being altruistic or individualistic, to preservate their self-interests. Somewhere away from ‘civilization’, on an arid and distant road in the desert of California.
A straight story for a straight film. Of course we can always try to discover metaphors and highlight ideas, for whatever reasons, and say that they are surreptitiously inscribed in the film. But does it really matter? As a student project, it seems that Indian filmmaker Ashok Gazula did not want more. It’s just the fun of telling a story; about the ‘circle of life’, as he says, with irreproachable filming skills. This does not mean that it is an experimental work. On the contrary, this is a movie to take seriously. The fact that it is only a student project, as the director states; everything in it respects what is expected from a cinematographic work.
At this level, the production and mixing of sound, in which Ashok is a specialist, is frankly admirable, as well as the frantic way he positions the cameras, as if he wanted to show the action under all every possible point of views of the protagonists, simultaneously, which requires excellent planning skills and technical control on the set.
We should not hide, however, that Ashok’s aesthetic sense may be arguable, or that some overacting in few moments may disturb the audience’s commitment to the film. Still, the final result is remarkable and makes us foresee the future path of this young filmmaker that certainly will be interesting to follow.
By Shevaun Cavanaugh Kastl
Image (above) from “Caput Mundi”
Fun. Zany. Colorful and Charming. This is “Caput Mundi” a fish out of water story, Italian-style from Brazilian filmmaker Clelia Di Briggido, this past month’s recipient for Outstanding Achievement in Short Film. Di Briggido also stars in the film, which follows the misadventures of a Brazilian woman in search of a room for rent in Caput Mundi – Rome – as it were, for proud Italians everywhere, still the Capitol of the World.
The story begins in lively Trastevere. Our leading lady – the character is without a name but delectably played by Di Briggido herself – arrives fresh-faced and eager to start a new chapter in her life. A street musician plays La Vie en Rose as she boards a bus into the heart of Rome, riding past fountains and gardens to the ancient ruins of the Coliseum. The light is practically pink as she navigates the cobble-stone, whilst relishing a cup of gelato, in search of a one-room flat advertisement she plucked from a street pole.
Of course, what ensues is a series of misadventures that had me laughing out loud in several places. Di Briggido’s plucky Brazilian tourist answers ad upon ad in search of the perfect place to call her new home. A quest that will test her patience and her diet. Each new venture includes some high-calorie Italian delicacy from pizza to pasta to Zeppole!
The characters Di Briggido encounters en tour through the Roman sublease market are delightfully peculiar. Each cameo is memorable in its own right and ranges from a boundlessly giddy Madame yearning for Rio de Janeiro to a frightfully strange Soothsayer with a crypt for a basement apartment to a flirtatious healer who practically accosts her with magic fingers.
Though “Caput Mundi” does rely heavily on its caricatures for its humor, what impressed me most was an undercurrent of sharp wit to balance the often absurd scenarios. In one of the early scenes, Di Briggido finds herself in a desolate suburb of Rome surrounded by gravel and dilapidated buildings, far from the grandeur of the Coliseum. She glances down at the apartment advertisement in hand – “One Room Flat by Coliseum. Plenty of Green.” A portly woman flags her from the balcony of a two-story shanty, hedged by two puny ferns. She sighs, tired feet kicking up dust as she plods toward the building to the cowboy whistle of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Sly details like this are where “Caput Mundi” excels. It’s full of them. And it never takes itself too seriously. The fact that a single bathroom is advertised as a one bedroom and bath for 600 euros is absurd, but what makes it funny is the Italian Madame yelling after Di Briggido as she flees the apartment.. “Well did you think that for 600 euros I would give you the Versailles Palace?!?”
Good point. Makes for one zany house hunt!
CHINMOY (SUPREME CONSCIOUSNESS)
“As per my view, by the photography and paintings are prove the reality of history. The influences that work on one, work on the other. And other hand art is the signature of the civilization.”
By Sandip Pratihar
Image (above) Director Prithviraj Das Gupta
Entitled “Chinmoy”, the film directed by Prithviraj Das Gupta has focused on the one of the most controversial paintings ever by the great Leonardo da Vinci. Chinmoy, commonly a boy’s name, means blissful. When we are able to see our inner-self or soul separately from the body, we will discover a new word, a new entity and a new being. In this film our director tries to discovered the unknown story from those ancient paintings. Every painting carries a story. A man is incomplete without a women, similarly a good painting is incomplete without a negativity. The director portrays his concept beautifully in this film.
God and the Devil both are lives in one body. The same message is received from the paintings in this film. Age by age we found the presence of God’s and Devil’s entities. In the Egyptian period we received God’s and the Devil’s explanation as well. In that age, gods and devils lived separately and they would wage war against one another, but they also respect each others kingdoms.
Now the times have changed. God and the Devil are two lives in one body at war against itself, and the same is seen in the paintings from this film. With expertise, Prithviraj Das Gupta draws us to the paintings. The acting is good, the film is well crafted. and the symbolization is used in a good way to portray the ever changing boundaries of the soul.
CUPID IS NOT A TERRORIST
By Arindam Bhunia
Images (above and below) from “Cupid Is Not a Terrorist”
Love and terrorism cannot draw breath together. They are totally antithetical with each other. A terrorist uses unlawful brutality and barbarity towards the mankind. On the other side love adjoin and rebuilt the humanity. In his animation film “Cupid is not a terrorist” director Bellopropello intellectually drew together these two totally reverse aspects through CUPID.
Cupid; the son of Venus, the goddess of Love and Mars, the god of war is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. His iconography acquired the bow and arrow that represent his source of power. Interestingly it is said that a person or even a deity who is shot by Cupid’s arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire. Here the question arises, is this obstreperous love is harmful for the mankind or a blessing? Is it the Cupid’s arrow which encouraged Paris to steal away Helen from Troy which resulted the Greeks and Menelaus armies turned the Aegean Sea red with blood? But in his animation film, Bellopropello has not framed Cupid’s arrow as a culprit but as a love acquirer searching for true love.
Love can be blind but love cannot be brutal. In the presence of love terrorism cannot exist. Hence Cupid, the god of uncontrollable love can never be a terrorist.
By Victor Eustáquio
Images from “Gods”, a film by Gustavo Coletti (above)
What would we say to God if we could confront him with our doubts, our worries? And with what God would we choose to do it? The God of the religion we profess, the only one we recognize as such? Or the other gods that may exist, even if we do not believe in them?
If this could be an interesting starting point for a long discussion, Gustavo Coletti has decided to go further and subvert the principle. To view the same problems from another angle. The point of view of the gods themselves, if we imagine that they exist and discuss these questions. And with this, the narrative becomes a meta-narrative that questions the foundation of the metaphysical discussion itself.
How does God or the gods look upon men? How does God or the gods judge the result of their own work, the creation of the human species and of the world? After all, who decided what is good and what is evil? God, the gods, or Man himself? The man who turned desires into an object of sin? The man who invented his own sin to justify different scales of values and legitimize the power of ones over the others? The man who makes war in the daylight, fearless, and makes love in the dark, ashamed? The man who does not hesitate to have the presumption of asserting himself as the representative of the deities on earth and thus to define systems of creeds, systems of regulation and moral (and consequently social and political) mediation, systems of rules that do not hide its absolutist and dictatorial vocation, under the demagoguery and the false illusion of free will, or freedom?
This is what about ‘Dioses’ (or ‘Gods’, its English title), a tense and provocative work that puts God in a celestial brothel (the first step to ‘humanize’ him), in conversation with other gods and angels. God in a long Socratic debate, confronted with the judgment of his actions and the questions that his peers address him. A God who, in the image of man (and not the opposite), also has his desires and satisfy them without shame. Because God does not transgress or sin.
Although with admirable dialogues, this is an example of a daring, but above all risky project. Because it does not respect conventions. On all fronts. It does not seem to be a movie, because the point of view is always the spectator’s, sitting in an audience looking at a stage where everything happens. It does not seem to be a play, because even when sitting in the audience, the spectator participates, through the camera, that approaches as much as it distances itself from the stage, the actors, the dialogues, sometimes fading out. With successive cuts, in an equally unconventional editing, that deep the sense of strangeness about what kind of work this is it.
Although Gustavo Coletti resorts to a cinematic mise-en-scène, and shows incessantly that this is a movie, by the way he illuminates everything that shows, focusing and blurring, intercalating the most varied shots in search of images that are exemplary aesthetic compositions. Although Gustavo Coletti resorts to inserts that only through the cinema can be shown, and in the theater only can be suggested.
For all of this, there is also the remarkable work of actors Martin De Léon, Alejandro Keys, Gisela Madrigal and Eva Ángelo. An intentionally stereotyped composition, in the tradition of classical dramaturgy, which confuses verisimilitude with unverisimilitude. Because this is a game of mirrors (and masks), an improbable meta-narrative, at least in the light of what is intelligible to human beings.
An amazing, fast-paced film that manifestly intends to cause emotions, inebriating or annoying. In a sentence, 90 minutes hard to digest if the stomachs are weak. Audacious, unpredictable and totally unconventional.
”The great theater of our life is a cosmic point full of forces that we ignore, that sleep, crouching within the small landscape of our daily existence and from time to time crosses the line of its destructive horizon to send us life or death.”
By Miguel Angel Barroso
Images (above and below) from Parivara
Since life begins all the forces of nature are set in motion to let us live or let us die: duality of the representation of the small world in which we move, without realizing that the great theater of our life is indifferent to our sufferings, our problems; it is even oblivious to our happiness.
The great theater of our life is a cosmic point full of forces that we ignore, that sleep, crouching within the small landscape of our daily existence and from time to time crosses the line of its destructive horizon to send us life or death.
This small documentary called Parivara, whose translation would be: Family, look in its images without stridencies, the meaning of all that good and all that evil, that we must cope with as human beings.
Shot in Nepal, which is located in the Himalayas, and surrounded by the People’s Republic of China to the north, and India to the south, it is a mountainous country, possessing some of the highest peaks of the land, standing out Mount Everest , With its 8848 meters.
The meaning of family is the engine of his plot, since the film tells of an orphanage called Goldungha, which welcomes blind children. Director, Alex Kruz, focuses his plot on a boy named Kopila, whose voice-over tells us how his life changed from 2015, when the terrible earthquake that would take him to the orphanage happened.
His mother’s memories are affectionate, tender, and denote a search for a lost love that will never return to him: Kopila’s childhood has been completely destroyed, but at the same time, it has also been rebuilt within that institution to the Who came so scared, so lost.
Kopila, little by little, learns the terrible lesson of life, of human suffering in this valley of tears that is the world. The child learns to live, helping others to live, in an act of reciprocity without limits between all the components of the orphanage. Kopila, one day, realizes that his mission is to help others to be as happy as he can be. This is the message that the film conveys to us: fraternity and the right to rebuild our lives, despite the disaster, despite the physical limitations, and the psychic traumas left by natural disasters.
The director, Alex Kruz, opts in his staging by serene images, shot in fixed planes that take their time so that the eyes of the viewer fix the physical space, the environment in which this child moves, brutally expelled from the Mother’s womb. They are images of great beauty aesthetic, but intimately linked with the narrative of the film, composing a balanced film, that flee from the sentimentality, and does not trivialize the emotions, nor exposes the human miseries for free.
The other interesting point of the narrative is the voice of the child, who speaks to us without resentment, without fear, without weeping a past that knows that it has lost forever. This child called Kopila, rather lives the future, within his present that is the orphanage of blind children, where all are one, and where the problems of one are the problems of the community. Laughter, games, discipline, learning, love for existence and struggle for survival, are the rules of that institution that does not consider these blind children as a burden, but as citizens full of law, able to integrate into the world “normal “Like any other worker or intellectual.
Is the film too optimistic? It is possible, but the director’s vision does not focus on this, but on the life of a community of people who, being rejected by society, struggle without discouragement every day of their lives to prove to themselves that they are the only World: their world, which is the only one they have.
Parivara is a wise mixture of smells, colors, sounds and hopes, very well presented cinematographically, with personality and intentionality; Perhaps there is an excess of academicism at some point, but it is not something negative for the whole.
The contrast between images of the jungle, where Kopila’s infancy took place, and the orphanage, are very effective in understanding the cycle of life, its constant transformations and, above all, to give us the impression that life is an imposition, A leap into continuous emptiness, a privilege we almost never know enjoy, until we have lost everything and it is already late; But it is not late for Kopila, nor for any of those children who have found the piety of other people in their lives; But we speak of piety understood as an act of compassion and sincere love, and not of hypocritical and discriminating charity.
Parivara, you must look with these clean eyes, with this pure light, with these open hands and ready to cling to life. What if not cinema, but life?
TAKE ME AWAY
By Panchali Kar
Image of Boon (above) from “Take me Away”
The film Take Me Away, directed by Kee Swee San, and Written by Tan Jun Yuan, has focused on the harsh reality of stigmatizing the people serving prison sentences. Their acceptability in the outer world becomes a huge question mark and the demarcation of criminal stays for the rest of their lives. In spite of the fact that they have already served their period of sentence, for whatever the crime they’ve done, the society never stops shaming them and looking down upon them.
The central character of the movie is Boon, who has just been released from the Prison. The world outside changes within minutes of his arrival; this isn’t the world which he had left behind. He gets to know that his wife has left along with their little daughter, got remarried, and settled in the US. He still hopes that he’d meet his daughter someday. Finding a job becomes a nightmare for him. And finally, when we bags a job, in spite of working hard and earning his bread with dignity, he’s falsely suspected of money laundering. Since he’s been to jail, his boss were convinced that there is a criminal within him.
The brilliance of the movie isn’t just limited to the choice of the subject, it also extends to the treatment. Fantastic treatment for a short film. No exaggeration, no unnecessary details. The central character is roughly sketched and placed in the midst of the plot. In spite of choosing such a sensitive subject, the plot never becomes sentimental towards Boon. We don’t get to know why has Boon served the prison sentence, because it’s not necessary. No matter what he did or didn’t, which resulted in the imprisonment, he would have been equally ill treated and type caste as a criminal, by the outside world. In the similar fashion, we don’t get to see the future of Boon, when he’s falsely accused of money laundering and taken to the cops for interrogation. The uniqueness in it’s climax is that, it is left to the interpretation of the audience.
Apart from the treatment, the movie has attracted my attention in other technical and aesthetic aspects as well. Brilliantly believable acting by the person who played Boon. Neat cinematography, no unnecessary stylization has been done for the shot taking. Beautiful use of white and subtle cool colours throughout the movie. Crisp editing, minimal background score, skilled story sets a benchmark of excellence. The biggest strength of this movie is that is does not dictate you towards what’s good and what’s bad, instead it makes you think on your own.
Shailik Bhaumik is an award-winning filmmaker and entrepreneur. Known for his feature film “Dasein”, Shailik is the founder and Chairman of Human Lab Corporation, a Multinational Film Company whose mission it is to help Independent Filmmakers survive and thrive in this highly competitive industry. Shailik oversees worldwide operations including production, distribution, and marketing for HLC’s live-action films, as well as films released under the HLC banner.
Arindam Bhunia is a marketing manager in an MNC with more than eight years of work experience in electrical field. Apart from his corporate job, he has interest in cultural activities so he joined Human Lab Corporation as Chief Executive Officer. He oversees strategic planning for film, television and video game production, marketing and distribution for the company’s business verticals worldwide. He is also responsible for overseeing finance, legal, labour relations, technology and HLC Studio operations.
Victor Eustáquio is an award-winning film producer and screenwriter and the Director of Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. A novelist; screenwriter; film producer and composer, Victor currently lives in Portugal and holds a BA in Political Science and a PhD in African Studies. As COO of HLC Studios, Victor coordinates the company’s various distribution strategies to maximize the value of HLC’s content across all current and emerging digital exhibition platforms.
Panchali Kar is a Dancer, Choreographer, Actor and Filmmaker. In addition, Panchali is a devout advocate for egalitarian social change, is affiliated with the NGO, Responsible Charity and currently working on a photo documentary on LGBT rights. She is an avid scholar and veteran of the performing arts and a seasoned instructor. Panchali maintains several degrees in the Arts including a M.Mus degree. Ms. Kar is also affiliated with AKTO, a Kolkata theater group based in the city in which she resides.
Miguel Ángel Barroso is a dedicated and published Film Historian. His credits include organizing numerous international film festivals and authoring several books including “The Hundred Best Films of Italian Cinema History” (2008) and “The Hundred Best Films of the 20th Century” (2009). Miguel organized the videoconference, “The Unforgettable Anna Magnani”, in tribute to the actress Anna Magnani on the centenary of his birth, held at the Italian Cultural Instituto Madrid.
Shevaun Cavanaugh Kastl is an award-winning actress, writer and producer currently living in NYC. Her production company, Mad About Pictures, has produced three films all currently playing the festival circuit. “The Mourning Hour”, her most recent film, just took top honors at The Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently writing a thriller feature but continues to pursue her acting career and can be seen on television and online in episodes of Revenge, Criminal Minds and Heroes.
Sandip Pratihar is an award-winning director, writer and filmmaker. As a screenwriter, director and independent filmmaker, he is very pro-active and follows his calling to communicate artistically intrinsic social messages. From West Bengal, India, Sandip is currently living in Kolkata. He has directed three films all currently playing the festival circuit. The short film “SITA”, is his most recent work, just took top honours at sixteen International film festivals.
E. J. Wickes is a visual artist and the Managing Editor of Cult Critic Film Magazine, as well as the creator and publisher of The Metamodern Magazine. His aesthetics lie somewhere in the vortex between fine art painting and filmmaking. Eric has worked in the Art Department on a variety of Hollywood, TV and independent film productions and as the Creative Director of HLC Studios, he oversees the company’s media and publishing division.