October 31, 2015

MAMI 2015 Day 1: The Same Good Ol' Feeling

MAMI has returned. And with it has returned everything that we associate with it. Euphoric cinema-loving crowds of all kinds. Yes, all kinds. The nice and patient. The rude and unreasonable. The fun and mad. The intense and motivated. Some new kids. Many old faces. Technical glitches. And the chaos they create. Frustrations and hope. Denial and acceptance. Eating bad food. Talking a lot of shit. But staying very, very alive. For a film-buff, a festival is like a great amusement park. Time is little. There is so much to experience. And the best you can do is run around with the hope to catch everything.

It is also an amazing feeling to spot the faces of MAMI-regulars during this week. Some of them I have been seeing since the first MAMI I attended in 2009. I don't even know who they are, or what they do. But watching them every year has created this unsaid bond between us. Well, not a bond may be. But certainly some kind of connection. I almost feel like approaching some of them this time and saying hello. For many, I would be one such face. Will someone come up and say hello to me?

It feels especially good when people tell me that they made their plans for the festival by going through my blog. Thanks internet. After fire, wheel, printing press and steam engine, you are what has changed the world!

Of course, there are things that don't change. Like all that I mentioned above. And like the movies you get to watch at a festival. Despite all the cancellations, technical glitches, and the chaotic atmosphere at the venues, I managed to watch three films. Am I happy with three? Of course not. At least four per day is what I want, always. But am I happy with these three? Yes. I am.

Paolo Sorrentino is only 45. And he already has such an incredible filmography. His latest, and a film in English, 'Youth' was the perfect film to start the festival. It was fun and intense. It was beautiful in every way. And it was deep. In short, it was very Sorrentino. There were certain breathtaking moments and sequences in the film that simply blew me over and reassured me that my favourite festival is back.

'Heavenly Nomadic' followed. Very endearing characters at an exotic location connected through a simple plot concerning love and loss. Being able to witness cultures and traditions of different people from across the world is one of the biggest pleasures of World Cinema. And the film definitely did that. However, we have seen so many films like these that I won't say it did anything exeptional to me. But a nice film whatsoever. Also Kyrgyzstan's Oscar entry this year.

And then, the surprise of the day came in the form of the Romanian entry at the Oscars, 'Aferim!'. The film won Best Director at Berlin and it shows why. It is a period road-movie, set in the early 19th century. And the director actually created the atmosphere of that time. The stunning locations and the black & white cinematography only helped. But the most unforgettable part of the film was its lead character and the lines he spoke to create this wonderful dark comedy. A friend said he must be the Kader Khan of Romania! My brother added, the song that best describes this guy is "Saiyyan tu kamaal ka, baatein bhi kamaal ki!" from 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo'.

Catching up with friends and finding new ones will continue. As will the feasting on movies. I only wish - there are no more technical glitches. Eventually, it will frustrate me. As of now I am just to ecstatic to have my favorite festival back!

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