10 Films You Must Watch at Pune Film Festival This Year

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on January 07, 2015

Movie buffs in Pune have a reason to rejoice. Come January 8th, the week long Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) will commence. One look at the list of movies on offer and it blew our minds away. So we spent sometime scanning through it and decided to create this list of movies that we would love to watch. And then we thought, hey, why don't we create a list of recommendations! So here's the list we came up with.

1. Timbuktu 

'Timbuktu' is the opening film of the festival and is also shortlisted in the final 9 Best Foreign Language Film Award nominees for the Oscars this year. The film talks about the brief occupation of Timbuktu by Islamic militant rebels and is directed by Abderrahmane Sissako.

2. Court

Director Chaitanya Tamhane's film 'Court' has won acclaim at many festivals including the prestigious 'Lion of the Future' award at the Venice Film Festival. Through the depiction of a court case, the movie takes a realistic look at the Indian judicial system and its absurdities.

3. Bad Hair (Pelo Malo)

A single mother is worried that her 9 year old son is obsessed with having his hair straightened. Directed by Mariana Rondon, this film that screened at festivals worldwide a couple of years back, is finally coming to Pune. A powerful coming of age story set in Venezuela, this is worth a watch.

4. Difret

A young girl's life takes a turn for the worse when she shoots her abductor who's raped her and wants to forcibly marry her. 'Difret' is a stark reminder  of how the archaic patriarchal laws of many societies around the world (Ethiopia in this case) violate the basic rights and dignity of women. Directed by Zeresenay Mehari, the film won acclaim at Sundance and Berlin film festival and was also Ethiopia's official entry for the 87th Academy Awards. 

5. Killa (The Fort)

Directed by Avinash Arun, this coming-of-age movie shot into prominence after winning 'The Crystal Bear' award at the Berlin Film Festival last year. Aided with delightful performances and great dialogues, Killa is a breath of fresh air and deserves to be seen. The trailer of this brilliant indie isn't online yet, but you can watch our interview of its young screenwriter here.

There are several other acclaimed Marathi films such as Ek Hazarachi Note, Elizabeth Ekadashi and Dr. Prakash Baba Amte that you can also watch this year at PIFF.

6. Stations Of The Cross

Director Dietrich Brüggemann's Silver Bear winning film tackles the subjects of faith and religion through the story of a girl named Maria who hails from a fundamentalist Catholic family. The world cinema section has some really interesting films this year including Alan Resnais' Life Of Riley, Celine Sciamma's Girlhood, Asaf Korman's Next To Her and Sonja Prosenc's The Tree, that are all worth watching.

7. 400 Blows

Nothing is more enjoyable than watching a classic on the big screen. Director Francois Truffaut's '400 Blows' screens at PIFF this year and for those who haven't (and even those have) it's a great opportunity to watch it. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, this tale of a lonely and misguided youngster is one of the landmarks of world cinema and has inspired many filmmakers including Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray. Watch it at PIFF this year and find out why.

Also watch out for other French classics such as Robert Bresson's Pickpocket , Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion, Jacques Tati The Big Party and Jean Luc Godard's The Mad Man.

8. Munnariyippu

The Indian Cinema section screens some of the best contemporary Indian films every year and this year is no different. Critically acclaimed films like Ankhon Dekhi (Hindi, Dir. - Rajat Kapur), Njaan (Malayalam, Dir. - Renjith), Swapaanam (Malayalam, Dir. - Shaji Karun) and  Teenkahon (Bengali, Dir. - Bauddhayan Mukherjee) will be screened this year and are all worth watching.

However do try and catch the Mammooty starrer, Munnariyippu which featured in our list of best regional indie films of 2014. An exciting thriller that keeps you on the edge till the end, its a must watch.

9. Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights In Forest)

Satyajit Ray fans in Pune, rejoice! As a part of the Soumitra Chatterjee retrospective, Satyajit Ray classics such as Apur Sansar, Aranyer Din Ratri, Charulata and Ganashatru are all going to be screened.

Recommending one film out of the lot is tough but we've decided to go with Aranyer Din Ratri. An adventure-cum-coming-of-age film, it gives a brilliant insight into the psyche of young middle class Bengal around the middle of the last century.

10. Cairo Station

Set against the backdrop of a railway station in Cairo, director Youssef Chahine's film tells the story of a newspaper seller who falls in love with a woman cold drink vendor. Chahine is the most important Egyptian filmmaker and all his films have been ahead of their times. Inspired by Italian neo-realism, 'Cairo Station' is his masterpiece and depicts Cairo with all its grim realities. Prepare to be transported to Cairo! 

Other Recommendations

Couple of other films that you should watch at the festival are the Oscar winning The Lives Of Others and the tragicomedy Goodbye Lenin.

There's a tribute section that will showcase classics such as Gulzar's Angoor, Bimal Roy's Devdas , Govind Nihalani's landmark cop film Ardh Satya, Balu Mahendra's Tamil film Moondram Pirai (remade in Hindi as 'Sadma') and U.R Ananthamurthy's Kannada classic Ghatashraddha (The Ritual). Goes without saying, all of them are priceless gems that await you at the festival.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the schedule here and go grab your PIFF passes at the earliest.


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