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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. 



Third Eye Asian Film Festival moves to new, bigger, better venue

Third Eye Asian Film Festival moves to new, bigger, better venue

In its 17th edition, the Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF) chose to move to Citylight, a single screen cinema located in Matunga/Mahim West, Central Mumbai. Before the multiplex era, Citylight used to be a regular, medium-capacity theatre, which was demolished to make way for an office complex, some years ago. However, the owners retained space on the upper levels to include a cinema, with a capacity of 250 seats.

It is not too far from the P.L. Deshpande mini-theatre at the Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi, which was the venue for the last few TEAFFs. Most film-buffs welcomed the move, because Citylight is bigger, has better seats and the projection is much superior, including the facility for projecting Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs), which was not available at Ravindra. A few felt that the location was inconvenient for them to access.

Known for exhibiting regional movies, Citylight has come a long way, post screening its first film, in 1942. It is also known to host Marathi Film Festivals, and for screening both new and classic hits in Marathi cinema. The theatre offers Dolby Digital Surround Sound System and a Cinemascope screen. Eatables and beverages are priced on the higher side, though not as high as the prices charged by regular multiplexes.

Lasting one week, the festival began with a screening of the film Lina at 10.30 a.m. on the 14th of December, although the official inauguration was scheduled for later in the evening on the same day. Lina is a joint production of Iran, Afghanistan and the Netherlands, with Afghanistan listed as the official production country in the festival programme. It is in the Persian language, written and directed by Afghan film-maker Ramin Rasouli, marking his feature film debut.

Lina’s cast includes famous Iranian actors Homayoun Ershadi and Amir Aghaee, as well as the young Afghan actress Hasiba Ebrahimi. Ershadi, now 70, was seen in Abbas Kiarostami’s Golden Palm winning film Taste of Cherry, German filmmaker Marc Forster’s adaptation of the novel The Kite Runner and A Most Wanted Man, directed by Dutch director Anton Corbijn.

TEAFF is organised by the Asian Film Foundation, chaired by Kiran Shantaram, well-known producer and theatre-owner, son of the legendary producer director V. Shantaram and President of the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI). The Foundation itself is an initiative of Prabhat Chitra Mandal, Mumbai’s oldest Film Society and one of the oldest in the country, having started in 1968. Shantaram (President) and TEAFF Director Sudhir Nandgaonkar (Founding Committee member and Trustee) are the pillars of Prabhat. Prabhat’s General Secretary Santosh Pathare conducted the Open Forum, held daily from the second day, where the directors and team-members of some of the films screened at the festival were presented to and interacted with the audience.

Sudhir Nandgaonkar, Mrunal Kulkarni, Sunil Sukthankar, KIran Shantaram and Premendra Mazumder (short film jury member) at the lamp-lighting ceremony, to mark the official inauguration of the 17th. TEAFF.

In his inaugural address, Shantaram appreciated the large turnout on the occasion but lamented the fact that state patronage for the festival was decreasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to hold the festival, as the years go by. Yet, he assured the gathering that he will leave no stone unturned to return next year, for the 18th TEAFF.

Welcome Home, a Marathi language film, directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar, was the official inaugural film. It stars Mrunal Kulkarni, Sumit Raghavan, Spruha Joshi, Dr. Mohan Agashe, Uttara Baokar, Deepa Shreeram, Seva Chouhan, Siddharth Menon, Sarang Sathye, Ashwini Giri, Abhay Kulkarni and child star Pranjali Kamble. Welcome Home is a woman- oriented film. It addresses the idea and concept of ‘home’ for a married woman. If a marriage fails and she has to leave her married abode, where would the woman’s real home then be? The husband’s? Her parents’? Or one that she buys/rents independently? And what if she has a young child/young children?

TEAFF had only one competitive section, for short films, with three prizes. Earlier TEAFFs had more categories in competition, but it must be budget constraints that led to cutting down on prize categories. However, in the short film section, there were three awards. Short films were screened on the second, third and fourth day, in the 2.45 p.m. slot. The section drew a good response both from within India and abroad, and some 24 films were shortlisted.

Coverage of the 17th TEAFF continues in the next posting.


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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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