By Krithika S
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
‘Cinema is an art’, this is what we have oft heard. But here, in India, it is considered a serious business. Atleast that is what Bollywood and other regional cinemas ‘inspiring’ it has been for some of us. For the last two years, Indian cinema has been going through interesting changes. But during the, say depression period of its history, I chose to look elsewhere and discovered a whole new world of cinema. I watched some beautiful foreign language films which redefine cinema through every scene and look forward to break the barrier of conformity. They are a whiff of fresh air with their out-of-the-box approach. And interestingly, they are independent films or films of debut directors which strike a chord (which is now happening here in Bollywood too).
Such films could be watched on World Movies- UTV owned channel which shows assorted foreign films. True artistic pleasure is what these films give their viewers. Now many such films are available online which makes it accessible easily. Here are some foreign language films which struck me with their rich storyline, natural actors and impressive cinematography.
Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices)- An eleven year old boy living in El Salvador, Mexico, is feared by his mother that he will soon have to join the guerilla forces during the Salvadoran Civil War. A poignant tale in Spanish language of scarred childhood and the impact of violence in the everyday life of people is a heart wrenching watch.
Offside- This Jafar Panahi film sees few bold Iranian teenage girls disguise themselves as men to watch Iran play football world cup match. This film which salutes the rebel spirit and the desire for freedom in us, humans, comes from a country like Iran, where it was eventually banned, talk about women and their need for liberty with a humouristic take.
Viva Cuba (Long live Cuba)- A rare Cuban film with two children as protagonists. Malu, an upper class girl and Jorgito who belongs to a poor family are friends but their mothers keep trying to separate them. And then, Malu’s mother decides move out of the country making the two children elope from their families in search of Malu’s father. This film touches upon the issues of immigration, economic inequality and class difference lived through the eyes of these innocent children.
J’ai Tué Ma Mère (I Killed My Mother) – Talented Xavier Dolan, a Canadian filmmaker and actor made his debut with this extraordinary film at the age of 19. Highly appreciated at various film festivals, this semi-autobiographical work in French language looks at the complex relationship between a homosexual teenager (Dolan himself) and his mother. Beautiful camera work makes this amazing film worth your time.
L’Amour Imaginaire (Heartbeats) – Another Xavier Dolan film which came out in 2010, sees two friends falling for the same man and the effect it has on their friendship. Interestingly, theme of homosexuality plays a major role in almost all his films. Again, à la Dolan, the music and cinematography are its USP.
Goodbye Lenin! – A 2003 German comedy set in 1989 starring Daniel Brühl is considered part of Ostalgie movement (films reminiscing about the life in East Germany). Daniel Brühl plays Alex who lives with his mother and sister. While taking part in a protest demonstration his mother, a staunch Socialist Party supporter gets injured and slips into a coma. But when she wakes up, Alex tries to make things look the same but they are not- it is a unified Germany now.
Dans La Maison (Inside The House)- This recent French psychological thriller film has the famous Fabrice Luchini playing a literature teacher in a high school who on recognising a budding writer in his class and decides take him under his tutelage. Each scene surprises you by its intelligence and execution. The brillant screenplay, top-notch performances and clever music makes this movie to the list! The climax of this film is one of its best scenes.
The Girl Who Leapt through Time- a Japanese animate film which is considered one of the finest anime films made. A science fiction told through the eyes of a high school girl who can time travel. She soon starts taking it for granted. Released in 2006, it has been adapted from a manga by Yasutaka Tsutsui.
These are just some of the films I loved. The list can be never ending with so many talented filmmakers around the world creating masterpieces. The language cannot be understood in many of these films, (subtitles are now available in for most films) but they can be given a chance for the sheer experience of enjoying pure cinema- for once.