The 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which was due in November 2020, is underway after a fair bit of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The 8-day festival, which happens to be Asia’s oldest, is being held by the banks of the river Mandovi, in Goa.
Even though there weren’t many big releases internationally in 2020, IFFI has managed to string together 220 odd films, both old and new, under various sections. There is no film with the reputation of Parasite (2019), Shoplifters (2018), or Cold War (2018) to look forward to, but here are 12 films to look out for at IFFI this year.
Suk Suk – Hong Kong director Ray Yeung explores the sexuality of two gay men in their 70s in this sensitively told story. Having struggled with their identity for most of their lives, they also have their families to deal with, in the twilight of their lives.
180 Degree Rule – What good is an international film festival without an Iranian film? The story of a school teacher who seeks her husband’s permission to attend a wedding in another city has made waves in the festival circuit.
Berlin Alexanderplatz – As Hitchcock said, the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder; this 3-hour film doesn’t quite conform to the great director’s advice but this 2020 adaptation of Alfred Döblin’s 1929 cult novel still sounds exciting. It is set in the modern-day, and involves an African immigrant. The great German auteur, Rainer Werner Fassbinder had adapted it as a miniseries in 1980.
The Man Who Sold His Skin – The film stars Monica Belluci and is directed by Kaouther Ben Hania, who made Beauty and the Dogs (2017) – that is a good enough reason to look forward to this film. Not forgetting the fact that it won a couple of awards at the Venice festival.
Spring Blossom – The story of a young girl involved with an older man may sound familiar but Suzanne Lindon’s film has been well received in the festival circuit. And though her father Vincent Lindon as a well-known actor, you still have to wrap your head around the fact that the director was born in the 21st century.
A Common Crime – You don’t get to see too many thrillers at a festival, that too one that also has a social commentary. This Argentinian film has death, guilt, and a haunting – how exciting.
New Order – Winner of the Silver Lion at Venice last year, this Mexican film highlights inequality and the class divide in a rather no-holds-barred manner. The Hollywood Reporter called it “terrifyingly riveting”.
Holy Rights – This documentary in the non-feature section of the Indian Panorama came highly recommended by a filmmaker who was on the jury. Farha Khatun’s previous films dealt with the issue of gender; this one is about patriarchy and the oppression of women under the guise of religion
Karkhanisanchi Waari – Mangesh Joshi’s previous film Lathe Joshi (2018) was an absolute treat and that is the primary reason I am excited about his new film – it revolves around a family on a trip to Pandharpur, after a death in the family.
Farewell Amour – A nominee for the Grand Jury prize at Sundance last year, this film is about an Angolan family reuniting in New York after almost two decades.
Apples – With the backdrop of a pandemic where amnesia seems to be the order of the day, Apples has received rave reviews, has travelled to several festivals and picked up more than a handful of awards.
Night of the Kings – Ivorian director Phillipe Lacote’s film is set in an Abidjan prison and involves a ritual of story-telling, a dash of magical realism, and more. Given that cinema from that region is hugely under-represented, this promises to be an interesting watch.