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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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Paddington, Review: Please see this film. Thank you.

Paddington, Review: Please see this film. Thank you. In 1956, a BBC cameraman bought a small toy bear left alone on a shelf in the iconic Selfridges store, London, for his wife Brenda. Named Paddington, after the train station close to Michael Bond’s home, the bear inspired him to write eight episodes in just over a week, featuring the bear from Deepest Peru. It was published as a book in 1958. Meanwhile, the station was made famous when ‘4.50 from Paddington’ was published,...

American Sniper, Review: Kyler instinct--all hits, no misses!

American Sniper, Review: Kyler instinct--all hits, no misses! Clint Eastwood told BBC arts editor Will Gompertz recently that he was not fond of the war in Iraq, but was "always sympathetic to veterans". At 84, he is quite a veteran himself too. It’s been a long time since the Rawhide series (early 1960s),  Sergio Leone’s Italian spaghetti Western that made him a star (Fistful of Dollars, 1964), the hard-hitting cop that was to become a prototype (Dirty Harry, 197...

Taken 3, Review: Haven 3--End of the road for fugitive Mills Kills

Taken 3, Review: Haven 3--End of the road for fugitive Mills Kills Liam Neeson returns as ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills in Taken 3, aka Tak3n (no spell-check required), the latest film in the vengeance-driven action franchise. Once again, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and her mother Lenore, Mills’ separated wife (Famke Janssen), now married to Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott) are in peril. Lenore is found dead in Mills’ home, with her throat slit, and Mills holding a knife. Obviously,...

Big Eyes, Review: Submissive painter and harmful charmer, making waifs

Big Eyes, Review: Submissive painter and harmful charmer, making waifs Big Eyes! Horror? No. Psychological thriller? No way. Comedy? In part, yes. A biopic about a hypnotist? Close, but it’s about a painter. So this painter had really BIG eyes? Wrong. Her eyes were of normal dimensions, but she had a fixation for painting young children with their eyes disproportionately big. So where’s the story? In 2003, writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Man on the Moon, Auto Focus,...

Unbroken, Review: Life of Pi meets Bhag Milkha Bhag meets Forrest Gump

Unbroken, Review: Life of Pi meets Bhag Milkha Bhag meets Forrest Gump I know, Milkha was a real character and the others are fictional, so where does Unbroken meet these other three? Endurance against all odds at sea was seen in Pi, a small-town boy running for international glory was Milkha and Forrest Gump too ran a similar trail, albeit with the added dimension of a man having a mental condition. In the end, we will have to give it to Unbroken for originality, because it is largely true t...

The Woman in Black, 2—Angel of Death, Review: Hammer misses the nail

The Woman in Black, 2—Angel of Death, Review: Hammer misses the nail The Woman in Black, 2: Angel of Death (TWIB 2,-AOD) is made by the same production team behind the original Woman in Black, with a screenplay by Jon Croker, said to be based on Susan Hill's novel. There is a book called The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, but it is a novelisation of the film by crime writer Martyn Waites, from Jon Croker’s screenplay. So the sequel does not owe anything to the original. Versi...

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Review: Lancelot, Camelot, Huge Ackman and Amen!

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Review: Lancelot, Camelot, Huge Ackman and Amen! In this year’s Hollywood Christmas release, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, 'Santa Claus' is symbolically replaced by a whole team of entertainers, “eleven”, at director Shawn Levy’s last count. The star-cast includes two veterans who are no more—Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney—and inanimate objects and creatures by the dozen, who make-up for Rudolph,...

The Hobbit—Battle of the Five Armies, Review: 5 times the fight fest, in 4DX and 3D

The Hobbit—Battle of the Five Armies, Review: 5 times the fight fest, in 4DX and 3D *So snow comes after fire, and even dragons have their endings. *Where there's life there's hope. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit The film opens where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon is on his way to attack the town of Esgaroth on the lake. People flee in terror, while Bard the Bowman struggles to escape from prison in order to help fight the dragon. the dwarf king Tho...

The Babadook, Review: Spook or self-help book?

The Babadook, Review: Spook or self-help book? It’s a ghoulish game! It’s a bed-time horror story! It’s a horrific riddle! It’s Babadook! It’s a self-help book! Not to be confused with Indian/Middle Eastern mystics/sufis/sadhus who go around under the nomenclature of Baba, or (prodigious?) male babies who are affectionately so called, Babadook uses the horror genre to try and conquer the demons within. But heaven help her if any single mother has to take the Baba...

Jessabelle, Review: Voodoo in the Bayou

Jessabelle, Review: Voodoo in the Bayou Jessabelle, co-incidentally similar in its title and name of its central character to another recent horror film, Annabelle, follows the time-tested setting of a country house surrounded by a lake (bayou, in this case) and woods, where a solitary woman faces demons that have a bone to pick with her, and with her kith and kin. It has a great-looking heroine with a starry presence, but a plot that is almost absent for 3/4ths of the film, convoluted when i...

Badlapur Boys, Review: Noble cause, familiar ploys

Badlapur Boys, Review: Noble cause, familiar ploys After films about cricket, hockey and football, here comes one about the indigenous game called ‘kabaddi’. The Badlapur Boys (BB) is named in the tradition of league games, getting popular in the India of the 2000s. A group of kabaddi hobbyists try to seize the opportunity to bring fame to the remote village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh by participating in a kabaddi tournament and hoping to win against top-ranked ...

IFFI Goa 2014, Festival Diary, Part III

       IFFI Goa 2014, Festival Diary, Part III A bit of luck meant that I got a room at Hotel Neptune Deluxe at an affordable rate. My room was on the fourth floor, and, for an inexplicable reason, the lift only serviced floors 2 to 4, in the five storey building, where only floors 3 and 4 were occupied by the hotel. A staff-boy helped me carry my luggage till the second floor, and I settled in Room 116. The number has significance for film-buffs, for Secret Agent 116 featu...

Badlapur Boys is a film about an old team-game, set against the water crisis in rural India

Badlapur Boys is a film about an old team-game, set against the water crisis in rural India Synopsis ‘Kabaddi’ is a contact sport, born in ancient India, and has since gained popularity in the international sports arena as the only game that requires a strong combination of ‘knowledge’, ‘concentration’, ‘strength’, ‘stamina’, and ‘combat skills’. Our honest attempt has been to revive the spirit of the game, in the film, ...

Bhopal--A Prayer for Rain, Review: In vain

 Bhopal--A Prayer for Rain, Review: In vain Mass deaths and long-term disabilities, going into the next generation as well, due to poisonous gas leak from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal 30 years ago constituted the worst industrial disaster in history. It also led to bitter wrangling over liability, compensation and rehabilitation, amid accusations of sell-outs and cover-ups. Warren Anderson, the head of the American company, was largely perceived as the man responsible for th...

Exodus-Gods and Kings, Review: Wrath and bloodbath

Exodus-Gods and Kings, Review: Wrath and bloodbath Exodus is the name of a long novel by Leon Uris, published in 1958, about the establishing of the modern state of Israel, and set in 1947, but this film goes back some 2300 years, to THE Exodus. It was to be titled just Exodus, but the copyright to the name was already taken, so the ‘Gods and Kings’ sub-title had to be added. Exodus-Gods and Kings is an epic on the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt 300-400 years before Chris...

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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

India



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