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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival screened 32 features, 24 shorts

17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival screened 32 features, 24 shorts

Mumbai’s 17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF), held during December 14-20 at the Citylight Cinema in Central-North Mumbai, was a single venue venture, having five shows a day, at 10.30 a.m., 12 noon, 2.45 p.m., 4.45 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. At five shows a day, 32 features were accommodated, while three show slots were allotted to short films, on the second, third and fourth day respectively.

During the 2 p.m.-2.45 p.m. break, they held an Open Forum, which was usually a sort of press conference, leaving no time for the delegates and media-persons to have their lunch. I managed to go for almost all the films, barring a few shorts, rushing out in between to grab some lunch. Of course, this meant that I could not attend the Open Forum at all. Below is the list of feature films I saw, with the rating I assign to each. Some films were difficult to sit through, so no rating is given to them.

Lina-Afghanistan/Iran/Netherlands-directed by Ramin Rasouli-***

Eriko Pretended-Japan-Akiyo Fujimora-** ½

Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)-Italy, Spain, Germany-Sergio Leone retrospective, European Connection category-*** ½

The Black Hole-India-Piyali Shome-* ½

Welcome Home-India-Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar-***

Leaf of Life-Iran-Ebrahim Mokhtari-***

Andarkahini-India-Arnab K. Middya-***

Teen Muhurt-India-Deyali Mukherjee-***

For a Few Dollars More (1965)-Italy, Spain, Germany-Sergio Leone retrospective, European Connection category-*** ½

Mermaid-Iran-Amir Masoud Aghababian-***

Love and Shukla-India-Siddhartha Jatia-Walked Out

Raana’s Silence-Iran-Behzad Rafiee-*** ½

Shimmgga-India-Nilesh Krishna-Walked Out

Maravi/Lost-India-Satish Babusenan and Santosh Babusenan-** ½

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)-Italy, U.S.A.-Sergio Leone retrospective, European Connection category-*** ½                               

Aamrityu/The Quest-India-Arup Manna-Walked Out

Vaarasaa/The Legacy-India-Arun Nalawade-Walked Out

Abyakto-India-Arjun Dutta-***

The Bad Poetry-Japan-Anshul Chauhan (Indian living in Japan)-** ½                

Colours of Money-India-Ranjan Ghosh-***

Mothering-Iran-Roqiye Tavakoli-***

Dawn-India-Biswajit Bora-Walked Out

Osukhwala/The Pain Hawker-India-Palash Dey-***

Sincerely Yours, Dhaka-BanglaDesh-11 Directors-** ½

Ondalla Eradalla/Not One or Two-India-Satya Prakash D.-Walked Out

Hebbet Ramakka/Uneducated Rama-India-Nanjunade Gowda N.R.-Walked Out

Maassaab/Teacher-India-Aditya Om-*** ½

Where Are My Shoes?-Iran-Kiumars Pourahmad-*** ½

Komola Rocket-BanglaDesh-Noor Imran Mithu-***

Zer (Closing film)-Turkey-Kazim Oz-*** ½

Besides Indian films in five languages—Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada and Assamese—there were films from the following Asian countries: Iran, Japan, Afghanistan and BanglaDesh. The European Connection was represented by the Spaghetti Westerns, directed by Sergio Leone. One missed the The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, which, along with Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, represented the iconic Leone trilogy.

Sergio Leone (1929-89), son of silent film director Vincenzo Leone, adapted Yojimbo, a samurai film by Akira Kurosawa, into Fistful of Dollars, starring an unknown Clint Eastwood. Leone got much of his style, both in the complicated mise-en-scène and the use of Ennio Morricone's music, from Yojimbo. A Fistful of Dollars created the spaghetti cowboy western genre which encompassed more than 200 films, sharing the features of being created in Italy, frequently being filmed in Spain, featuring self-assured killers with no names, and music scores either by Ennio Morricone, or in his style, and, of course, the shootout. Incidentally, Leone gave himself and American alias, Bob Robertson, in the credits of Fistful of Dollars, and named Morricone ‘Dan Savio’.

Leone's style uses editing in combination with Morricone's scores, to create incredible emotional peaks, dramatic camera movements, and, his trademark, the extreme close-up of the eyes of the characters. After A Fistful of Dollars came For A Few Dollars More, and finally, the ultra-classic The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. These are considered a series, since the main character is always Clint Eastwood, and he always lacks a proper name, called Joe and Manco, in passing.

The next Leone film was made in 1968. Once Upon a Time in the West is a significant departure from Leone's earlier westerns. This film is stylistically a spaghetti western, yet Leone directs this film with incredible care and beauty, matched only by Morricone's classic score. Once Upon a Time in the West represents a quantum leap forward in film-making for Leone. The scenes are slow, beautiful, and powerful. The movie pays homage to the simplicity and honesty of the old west, doomed from the beginning of the movie to death by progress of the arriving modern times.

I will cover short films and the winners in that category in the next instalment of my TEAFF diary.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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