I Loved My First Time At A Film Festival, & Here's Why Should You Go Too!

By Aditi Patwardhan. Posted on November 07, 2015

I'm not going to watch a single film today, I thought as I woke up in the morning and that felt so odd. There's an addictive quality to film festivals. You're transported to a different space, a different time, where all you have in your world are those moving images on the screen. All your attention is focused on that 70 mm blank screen that jumps to life every now and then. And then when the festival is over and you return from the magical land to routine, you wish it had never ended.

This was my first year at MAMI and the experience has been thrilling. Every bit of it. It was a new experience on many levels, being a newbie on the job, going to a new city, getting used to the pace of life that's much faster than Pune, planning the day and managing time while travelling from Lower Parel to Andheri to Juhu, tweeting live updates on time, saving the longer pieces for night and so on. It was an enthralling journey, that's for sure.

Films drain me. For me, watching a film is never a casual experience, it's something much  more than that. It lingers in my mind for a long time; I keep getting these flashes of scenes from the movies I watched and these recurring impressions make me live those moments more than once. The close up of Victoria crying at the bedside of dying Sonne, that dark flashy interior of that Berlin night club, the giant python twisting and turning in its cage in Kothanodi, the soulful quwwali being played in the palace of Jaipur in Junun, the vast sugarcane fields set on fire in Land and Shade, the stern cold stare of Alexandros' character in Interruption, the late night cityscapes of Shimla in Even Red Can Be Sad, the undying courage of 12 year old Mina in Mina Walking, the carefree peaceful face of Gadappa from Thithi, extraordinarily beautiful snowfall in the wintry Nordic setting in In Your Arms and the image of Guru Dutt standing in the corner in poise and singing 'Jaane woh kaise log the jin ke' with his unblinking fixed gaze in Pyaasa. All these images have created a collage in my mind and the impressions will last forever I think!

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I missed more movies than the ones I've been able to catch! I couldn't watch some of the most loved films of MAMI this year like Youth by Paolo Sorrentino, Lenny Abrahamson's Room, He Named Me Malala, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster, Jafar Panahi's Taxi, Radu Jude's Aferim! and of course the opening film Aligarh by Hansal Mehta. It's a bittersweet feeling, having missed these gems, but having watched some excellent films like Mina Walking, Victoria, Thithi, P. T. Anderson's Junun and Amit Dutta's duo Nainsukh and Even Red Can Be Sad make it slightly better.

An exciting part about covering the film festival was the prospect of meeting filmmakers and interacting with them! While watching a film is an excellent experience in itself, it's sort of a one-way process. We see, we interpret and we perceive from our side of the camera. However, our perception of any piece of art gains perspective when we know the person behind it. We can ask questions and get to know how they created those beautiful images. And it doesn't have to be a long interaction either. Sometimes just watching  Shabana Azmi or Christopher Doyle walk past you can make you feel so thrilled!

Since many years, I'd been reading articles written by reporters covering film festivals with a blend of admiration and envy. It always seemed like the best thing to do- go to a film festival, watch movies, write about them and it's all a part of your work. Just perfect. Well, this year I got to experience it myself and I have to admit, every bit of it was as good as I had imagined!


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