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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com 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. 

 

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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....

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...

Ben is Back, Review: Super Mom’s benediction v/s Son’s drug addiction

Ben is Back, Review: Super Mom’s benediction v/s Son’s drug addiction Ben, the titular character, is a nineteen year-old boy who’s come back home for a Christmas visit from his rehabilitation centre. A hardcore drug addict, he has been clean for long enough to earn his holiday. Yet, his visit is going to hurtle his family into a crisis they could never have imagined. Ben is Back is not the routine drug-mafia/gang-war film. Instead, it is a thoroughly watchable hearts and min...

The Possession of Hannah Grace: Show me demoney

The Possession of Hannah Grace: Show me demoney A scary movie that does not scare can do little else. As the title suggests, the film is about the possession of a woman called Hannah Grace, though there is no reason or logic given behind the possession. In an 85-minute film, you can count the frightening scenes on the fingers of one palm. Originally titled Cadaver, the supernatural film was made under $10 million, and in spite of low merits, it might even end-up making some money. A woman ca...

Mortal Engines, Review: Municipal Darwinism in a dystopian future

Mortal Engines, Review: Municipal Darwinism in a dystopian future Charles Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest is taken to its logical conclusion in the future, where mini cities stand on mobile machines that serve as crushers and gobblers of smaller ones, appropriating their resources and enslaving the captured populace. The process is called Municipal Darwinism, and no one is safe. Slick and deeply disturbing, Mortal Engines is thought-provoking viewing and full of metaphors. T...

Spiderman, Into the Spider-verse: Spiderman is dead; long live Spidermen

Spiderman, Into the Spider-verse: Spiderman is dead; long live Spidermen “I love you” yells PDNY cop Jefferson Davis, to his son Miles, as he drops him off to school. After a few seconds, he insists that Miles yell back, “You gotta say I love you back.” Miles, the would-be new Spiderman, finds this awkward, and asks, “Are you serious?” and when his Dad says “I want to hear it”, he yells back, “I love you, Dad.” On his police-car PA s...

IFFI 2018, VIII: Ratings

IFFI 2018, VIII: Ratings At the 49th IFFI, Goa, November 20-28, 2018, I caught 29 films: 28 features and one short. Not bad, considering one can watch up to 40 films in theory. If some press conferences, one Master Class and some dinners have to be squeezed in, not to mention the Open Forum that I moderated and the lunch that followed, 29 is not a low figure at all. Sadly, I had to walk out of as many as eight of them, after giving each one of them 20-30 minutes to warm-up. My highest rating...

IFFI 2018, VII: What it was and what it could have been

IFFI 2018, VII: What it was and what it could have been In its 49th edition, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was a damp squib. It could have been a glorious run-up to the 50th edition celebrations next year; instead, we had many disgruntled delegates and media-persons and serious mismanagement. In fact, many regulars decided to give the fest a miss this year, making me wonder whether they had a premonition that it would be so dull. Here are 25 observations that need to be loo...

IFFI 2018, VI: Meet Canadian cinematographer Pierre Gill

IFFI 2018, VI: Meet Canadian cinematographer Pierre Gill “I hope I get to work in India soon as I am amazed by some technically complex movies from India,” said Cinematographer Pierre Gill at a press conference held on 26 November 2018 as part of the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Gill continued, “My passion for cinema comes mostly from storytelling. Storytelling makes me dream. A good story or good script brings out the creativity in me. It’s a pr...

IFFI 2018, V: Promoting Jharkhand as a film-making destination

IFFI 2018, V: Promoting Jharkhand as a film-making destination The 24th of November was a day dedicated to Jharkhand at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The scenic state, bestowed with rugged hills, dense forests and mesmerising waterfalls, got a much-needed impetus as a film shooting destination when dignitaries came together to celebrate ‘Jharkhand Day’ at IFFI. Governor of Goa, Ms. Mridula Sinha; Shri Amar Kumar Bauri, Tourism Minister, Government of Jhark...

IFFI 2018, IV: To the Desert

IFFI 2018, IV: To the Desert The inspiration for ‘To the Desert’ came from a true news story I had read, about kidnapping in Patagonia. The film uses real-life settings of abandoned houses, employing thereby a documentary approach to film-making. It was an opportunity for me to get involved in the exotic landscape of Patagonia. - Ulises Rosell, Director The shooting for the movie was quite difficult as the weather conditions were hard; I always wanted to show Patagonia on the ci...

IFFI 2018, III: India’s Film Facilitation Office portal launched

IFFI 2018, III: India’s Film Facilitation Office portal launched India, a land of stories and a melting pot of emotions, narrates itself through breathtaking landscapes. It expresses itself via age-old, man-made splendours, like the Taj Mahal, the mythological narratives at the Ghats of River Ganges, and the cultural clans of the Seven Sister states in the North-East of India. A Film Facilitation Office (FFO), set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, has been working t...

IFFI 2018, II: The Aspern Papers was the Opening Film

IFFI 2018, II: The Aspern Papers was the Opening Film The Aspern Papers was the opening film of IFFI 2018, the 49th International Film Festival of India, Panaji, Goa, November 20-28, also marking its world première. Team Aspern got to address the first press conference of the festival, held at the Media Centre at the ground floor of the old Goa Medical College (GMC) building. “It is a real honour for me to be in India, to present my film at this prestigious festival” said ...

IFFI 2018, I: The Winners

IFFI 2018, I: The Winners At the 49th International Film festival of India (IFFI), 2018, which concluded in Panaji, Goa, on the 28th of November, the following films and film personalities got the honours: *Golden Peacock for Best Film: Donbass, Ukraine *Silver Peacock for Best Director: Lijo Jose Pellisery, for Ee.Ma.Yau, India (Malayalam language) *Special Jury Award: Director Milko Lazarov, for Aga (Germany) *Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Male): Chemban Vinod, for Ee.Ma.Yau *Silver P...

Mohalla Assi, Review: Holy river, unholy Babas

Mohalla Assi, Review: Holy river, unholy Babas He’ll get there, eventually. Beginning with the TV serial Chanakya (321 BC-283 BC), about the life and times of the master strategist in the Maurya dynasty period (322 BC-185 BC), Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi gave us a good follow-up in the form of the feature film Pinjar, set in India’s partition, circa 1947.  After three more period dramas, largely unseen, he now lands up in more recent history, with the 2004 story published in 2...

Boy Erased, Review: Let the gay have their way

Boy Erased, Review: Let the gay have their way Homosexuality is not a state of mind, a disease or a matter of choice. While we are getting increasingly aware of these facts in many parts of the world, there are at least 35 states in the USA where gay conversion centres try to rid the inmates of this ‘abnormality’ through therapy and methods that are both conventional and unconventional. The memoirs of one boy who was sent to such a home form the basis of Boy Erased, directed by ac...

Bergman showcase at IFFI 2018

Bergman showcase at IFFI 2018 2018 marks the centenary of Ingmar Bergman's birth. On this occasion, when the centenary celebrations are in full swing across the globe, IFFI 2018 will be showcasing 7 of the best films from his substantial filmography. These films are Summer With Monika, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Persona, Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, and Saraband. In addition to these seven films, a documentary on Bergman titled Bergman Island, directed by Marie Nyrerod,...

Anna Ferraioli Ravel to be part of International Jury

Anna Ferraioli Ravel to be part of International Jury at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), to be held in Panaji, Goa, during November 21-28. State focus - Jharkhand Jharkhand is a small state carved out of Bihar. Movies in the Jharkhand Package include Death in the Gunj, Ranchi Diaries and Begum Jaan. Jharkhand Day will be celebrated on 24th November, 2018 as part of the festival. The International Competition jury The International Competition jury comprises John Irv...

Aspern Papers’s world premiere to open 49th IFFI

Aspern Papers’s world premiere to open 49th IFFI The 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be held in Goa from 20th to 28th November and will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries. ~The festival will open with the World Premiere of The Aspern Papers. The director Julien Landais and , including Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Golden Globe winner), Joely Richardson (Oscar-nominated actress), Morgane Polanski (actress and daughter of Roman Polanski) will be present at the screen...

Thugs of Hindostan, Review: Where are the thugs?

Thugs of Hindostan, Review: Where are the thugs? In the Hindostan of the early 1800s, as in most countries at any time in history, there were thugs. India, as Hindostan came to be called by the British, had an exactly similar term for these gentlemen, only the t in thug was hardened to sound like tug. Our story begins in 1795, when one small kingdom dared to withstand the marauding East India Company forces, led by John Clive. There is one solitary thug in the film, who has an ambivalent att...

The Grinch, Review: You can’t steal Christmas

The Grinch, Review: You can’t steal Christmas An entire film built around Christmas cannot but be happy and heart-tugging, which is what Grinch is. And since it is animated, anything and everything outrageous and impossible can be incorporated, with technical finesse. Obviously, the film will have special appeal to those who believe in Saint Nicholas, aka as Santa Claus. But others too will be won over by the charm and innocence, seasoned with guile and villainy. The Grinch, who lives ...

Jack & Dil, Review: Love my dog? Shadow my wife!

Jack & Dil, Review: Love my dog? Shadow my wife! Set in picturesque Goa, the film seems to an advert for Goa tourism, a certain brand of tea and a particular brand of kettle. A bunch of actors were most likely contracted for a period and taken to the Western Indian beach paradise state, where a cat and mouse game was played out under the garb of making a movie. Reasonably talented actors appear novices as the plot, of a suspicious husband hiring a novice to spy on his wife, unravels at a ...

Ekkees Taarekh Shubh Muhurat, Review: Marry-go-round

Ekkees Taarekh Shubh Muhurat, Review: Marry-go-round Set in the Hindu holy town of Mathura, with only old faithful Sanjay Mishra in the non-star cast, Ekkees Taarekh Shubh Muhurat (21st, an auspicious date) is the sleeper that wakes you up, the mouse that roared. Slice-of-life characters, with only the occasional over the top comedy, keep the film anchored to the ground and the audience entrenched their cushioned seats. Girdhari Lal Sharma (Sanjay Mishra) is a priest-turned-mythology-storyte...

Lupt, Review: Vengeance, the soul purpose

Lupt, Review: Vengeance, the soul purpose A wafer thin story-line might have made it easier for the makers to deliver a supernatural ‘horror’ film, but there is little to take home from Lupt, except some good performances, led by an unlikely Javed Jaaferi, who, against the trend, has been cast as a ruthless business tycoon. The film is a revenge tale, like 99% of all horror films, but chooses to delve into the realm of souls rather than ghosts. But aren’t most ghosts disgrun...

Kaagaz ki kashti, Review: Surfing oceans of melody

Kaagaz ki kashti, Review: Surfing oceans of melody It’s a tough call. What do you call a biopic on the life and times of singer-composer, late Jagjit Singh? Producer-director Brahmanand S. Siingh settles for Kaagaz ki kashti (Paperboat), deriving the title from one of Jagjit’s most popular numbers, a nazm (an Urdu poetry form), and adding a sub-heading, Jagjit Singh Come Alive. Though he sang all kinds of songs in a career spanning five decades, nazm was not what he was known for....

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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 FilmFestivals.com 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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