BISFF Day 1: Some Brilliant Shorts, Student Power & A Locarno Winner!

By Arun Fulara. Posted on August 28, 2015

Suchitra Film Society is a place we love. We were here last year and watched some awesome shorts films. So much so that two of them went onto be a part of our anthology of shorts, Chaar Cutting. This year the festival is in its 5th year. With 3000 entries whittled down to 300, BISFF is arguably the largest short film festival in India. The rapid rise of BISFF is a testimony to the rising interest in filmmaking. Students & IT professionals, amateur & award winning filmmakers, young & old all mingle, talking animatedly about the film they've just watched or the latest camera in the market.


There's a palpable energy in the air, the passion for cinema apparent in every discussion. The opening day saw Raam Reddy & Ere Gowda (screenwriter) drop in for the opening film, that wasn't technically the opening film, screened as it was at the end of the day. The latest filmmaker to win awards at a major international film festival, Locarno in this case, seemed to carry his new-found fame lightly. Maybe that reflects the ethos of Bengaluru & BISFF. Sensible hardworking people, working patiently to run a festival on a thin budget & a small team.

Raam Reddy spoke about his austere beginnings and how all it takes for one to learn filmmaking today is a laptop with films, a camera & some editing software. That's how he began, he said, and that's the spirit in which his award winning Kannada film Thithi was made. Noted actor Prakash Belawadi, who's closely associated with the society & the festival, spoke about the genesis of BISFF & how it started on a whim to provide a platform to the passion of young short filmmakers. The curator of Berlinale Shorts, Maike Mia Hohne, here with shorts from Berlinale, spoke about the need to break down national boundaries.


The Men Behind BISFF- Anand Varadarajan & Harish Mallya

As much as we would've loved to, we couldn't watch all of the short films today. But of those we did, we found some really interesting and enjoyable. Fading Red, the opening film of the festival was one such. Directed by Bharath MC, the film highlights the trauma of a rape victim and those around her. Subtly done with actors who look the part, the film had a quality usually found lacking in amateur short films. Bharath is an ex-student of Suchitra & the class was visible in the creative choices he made in the film.

Another film that stood out for its deft handling of a serious issue was Stuck In '67, a film about an ex-soldier struggling to deal with post-war reality & a bureaucrat burdened with a boring life. The humour in this Israeli film is skillfully woven with the sensitive shades. The lead actors are perfect and one couldn't help identify with their problems, as far as they are from ours.

Directed by Jagadeesh Sundaramurthy, Ramar Pazham shows how a routine visit to the barber shop leads to unexpected situations thanks to a banana peel. Starting on a routine note, the film leads to situations that keep you on tenterhooks. This happens to be the debut film of director Jagadeesh Sundaramurthy. And we must say that despite some minor glitches, it is an impressive debut and keeps you engaged till the last minute.

One of the most impressive shorts we saw today was The French Revolution directed by Hai Afik.  The Israeli short tells the story  of Noni and Tamar whose evening dinner turns ugly when Tamar objects to some youngsters creating a ruckus outside their house. French Revolution is a tense thriller that shows how bad situations bring out the worst in every person. It wouldn't be erroneous to say it could be made into  a great feature.

What Could Be The Name Of The Story directed by Pratul Gaikwad stars Nagesh Kukunoor in the lead role. The film sees Kukunoor's character narrate a tale of what seems to be his estranged love and keeps the audience guessing about the conclusion.  Pratul’s film easily ranks among one of the best shot films we saw this year at BISFF. Narrated through a single character talking to the camera, the film is an engaging affair with a conclusion that leaves you smiling. It however was annoying to note how Kukunoor’s character repeatedly describes a male character as a rapist for a supposedly funny effect. Sadly it ends up evoking exactly an opposite reaction and could have been easily avoided.

Scrabble directed by Cristian Sulser narrates the tale of Theo who lives a seemingly dull life with his wife Barbara. And a zest for life seems missing in the lives of this old couple. One such dull day sees the couple indulge in a game of scrabble that seem to bring Theo’s morbid obsessions to life. It is amazing to note how Sulser depicts the dull lives of an old age couple through a game of scrabble. The wicked thoughts that come to Theo’s mind with every scrabble score made is funny and dark in equal measure.

That's it for day 1. Will be here in Bangalore in case any of you want to catch up. There are some great films here, completely worth your weekend.


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