June 6, 2014

Film Festivals - A Panorama of Perspectives

















(This is the first a series of small posts where we look at some much-acclaimed Bengali films of recent times and their specialties which left an impression all around. I’ll start off by looking at what a film festival means to me followed by my views on the films themselves. The idea is to get excited about the upcoming film festival and get ourselves immersed in discussion ahead of all the special movies we are going to watch and interpret.)

For connoisseurs of cinema, a film festival can be aptly summarized as a sumptuous buffet filled with delectable offerings. Be it a humble event involving few movies in a college classroom to renowned extravaganzas featuring movies from around the world. Many of us would fondly recollect the experience of visiting Nandan regularly during a film festival, watching “Bicycle Thieves”, “Battleship Potemkin”, “Agantuk”, “Meghe Dhaka Tara” and several other revered creations with rapt attention, asking questions, being enlightened by filmmakers and finally, discussing, dissecting and ideating over a cup of tea. 

I have always believed that watching a movie is an excellent exercise in understanding perspectives. When I walk down a road I take every day and look at the same buildings and the same people repeating their activities every day, I might be led to think of it as a monochromatic world with hardly any variety and that the vision I have of it in my head would be identical to the vision every other person who walks down the same road has. However, when a filmmaker decides to make a movie in the same setting, I realize that I have only “seen” and never truly “observed”. A thousand stories could be interwoven out of the houses lining the road, the people living in them and incidents happening every now and then. It’s all about a keen eye searching for stories and putting them in perspectives which make the difference.

This study in perspectives go a long way in making us aware and sensitive to things around us which would have otherwise been steadily ignored since they do not affect our lives directly. They also help us understand how a situation could be approached and understood in multiple ways when more than one person is involved in them. The value and diversity of opinions is highlighted and so is the importance of realizing how decisions are influenced by the unique components of our personalities. How we bring our upbringings, philosophies, prejudices and education to bear on the solutions and advice we offer to a problem staring us in the face.

I realized and learnt much of this over discussions with peers during film festivals as well as lectures by filmmakers and personalities from film studies. We brought distinct understandings of the same film to the table, our opinions on the scenes and narration were unique and we usually argued a lot about how effective the message in the film would have been if it was presented in a different manner. As we debated over and absorbed knowledge from our sessions, the takeaway at the end of the day was always the importance of divergent perspectives.


As we gear up for the one-of-a-kind Bengali film festival coming to us very soon, let’s look forward to several such ideating sessions as we try to wrap our heads around the movies we will watch and the visions of the filmmakers behind them. I am all charged up with the prospect of meeting the personalities behind the camera, the hours of knowledge and entertainment and above all, the promise of inculcating newer perspectives on life and thought from the discussions with all the bright and sensitive minds attending the festival.

Join us for the #BiHFilmFestival

An article by Soumalya Chakraborty

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