Indian films in Sydney film Festival (June 7 -18)

This years Sydney Film Festival in June (SFF, June, 7-18, 2017) will comprise 400 sessions and 288 films selected from worldwide cinema houses, films in various languages, countries also documentaries and films of well known auteurs. SFF offers Sydneysiders an exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, international guests and more. Sydney Film Festival also presents an Official Competition of 12 films that vie for the Sydney Film Prize, a highly respected honour that awards a $60,000 cash prize based on the decision of a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals.

The Festival takes place across Greater Sydney: at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Randwick Ritz, Casula Powerhouse, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall and SFF Outdoor Screen in Pitt Street Mall.

There are four film entries from India this year.

Director of Newton, Amit V Masurkar

Newton is a film about a government clerk on election duty in the conflict ridden jungle of Central India tries.

In this absurdist comedy about the perils of democracy, a dutiful voting official tries against all odds to conduct a free and fair election deep in the Indian jungle.

As India prepares for a general election with nine million polling booths and over 800 million voters – the world’s largest democracy – the principled clerk Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) is entrusted to conduct voting in a remote jungle village. He is challenged by extreme Maoist guerrillas determined to stop the election process, security forces who couldn’t care less about the outcome either way, and a local populace hardly infected with the spirit of democracy. Newton is thwarted at every turn. In this superb, absurdist comedy, director Amit V Masurkar succeeds in interrogating the difference between the rhetoric and reality of democracy. Winner of Hong Kong International Film Festival Jury Award.

Another one is Sexy Durga. Durga, a north Indian migrant and a Keralite youth named Kabeer are running away on a midnight. They are waiting for a transport to the nearest railway station to catch a train to a distant place. Two small time gangsters, transporting arms, offer assistance to the couple. The hapless “Durga” encounters a cross section of the society through the rest of the night.  Parallel to the journey of Durga another mysterious event intercuts in the film. In a Kerala village, devotees perform ‘Garudan Thookkam, a ritual art form submitted as a reward for the problems solved in the abode of Goddess Kali, who represents Goddess Durga’s personified wrath & embodied fury.

Says Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan about the movie, “Sexy Durga” is a name of irony. Woman are considered as Devi in the Indian culture. But at the same time women are the one who is exploited most in this society. A girl named Durga can be a goddess if she is in a temple, but what will happen to her if she is out there in the street. Durga is running away from somewhere with a Muslim named Kabeer. Why they are running away? What will be the circumstances are hidden but obviously loud. How fast the mentality of obsession and worship changes into the mentality of domination and exploitation in a male dominated society! The film is all about this thought process. I was experimenting with my idea of script less movie making and gone a little further to make a movie without a story as well.”

An Insignificant Man is a non-fiction political drama chronicling the spectacular rise of Arvind Kejriwal from an activist to a controversial vigilante-politician, An Insignificant Man follows the birth of the newest political force in India-The Common Man’s Party (AAP).

At the heart of An Insignificant Man is the most polarising man in India today – Arvind Kejriwal. Filmed over the course of 2 years, this film is a portrait of power, corruption and a controversial man. The film gives an insider’s view into Arvind Kejriwal’s brand of politics which has been labelled selfish, dangerous, anarchic and yet revolutionary. Shaking the country’s most powerful political establishments with basic public issues like water, electricity, and graft, Kejriwal has emerged as the leader of the newest political force in India – the Common Man’s Party.

With never-before-seen footage, the film offers a unique insight into a fledgling political party’s battle between survival and extinction in the largest democracy in the world. Capturing moments of triumph and despair, the film is a moving cinematic journey through the narrow lanes of Delhi’s shantytowns to the closed corridors of political power.

Hotel Salvation is the story of an old man who drags his busy son to Varanasi so that he may die and attain salvation there in a comedy about death that, at heart, is a delightful, poignant celebration of life.

Daya Kumar (Lalit Behl) believes that his end is near, so he tells his family that he wishes to die in the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges. The stubborn old man drags along his reluctant adult son Rajiv (Adil Hussain) and they check into the Hotel Salvation, where people come to die. But once there, Daya gets his lust for life back, making new friends with the other “dying” residents. Daya and Rajiv are forced to reconnect – both to each other and to the world around them. Described as an “arthouse take on the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel“, Hotel Salvation is a wonderfully accomplished film that captures the vibrancy and strangeness of Varanasi with gentle humour. It was awarded the UNESCO Prize at Venice for the film that best represents the values of peace and human rights.

Winner of the UNESCO Prize at Venice, Hotel Salvation best represents the values of peace and human rights.

For Indian films Visit: http://www.sff.org.au/schedule/#

(Sydney Film Festival welcomes all visitors to screenings and events and is committed to ensuring the program is accessible for all attendees. See the print program, visit sff.org.au/access, call 1300 733 733 or email tickets@sff.org.au for more information on the new Screenability program, and for accessibility access to the Festival. Sydney Film Festival runs 7 – 18 June 2017. Tickets for Sydney Film Festival 2017 are on sale now. Please call 1300 733 733 or visit sff.org.au for more information.)

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