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Recent trends in European cinema

The ninth film festival that comprised films from the European Union, was held in Chennai recently. A report.

THE EUROPEAN Union with 15 member states held its ninth film festival in India this year. This festival has been held in India since 1986 biennially,

initially in Delhi. But since 1992 it has been held in a second city also. This year, for the first time it is being held in three cities, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. The film festival represents an important facet of the growing cultural relations between the EU and India.

For Chennai, it was the first time and therefore it aroused a great deal of interest in the viewers. It was sad to note that in spite of the fact that the festival was an important one it was not given the right kind of publicity. Neither the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the festival in Chennai, nor the DFFI, the coordinator, took the trouble to get the Consulates or representative bodies such as The British Council, Max Mueller Bhavan or the Alliance Francaise involved in the festival. Again, the well-known film societies were also ignored.

The Chamber hall was full for all the screenings but does that necessarily mean that committed and discerning film lovers were given the opportunity to watch these films? There were complaints that even young and aspiring technicians who could have learned much from such an exposure, were denied the opportunity.We do know of the film scene of important countries such as France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands or Sweden. But, the fact that there is a growing and fairly well developed cinema in all the other member countries too came as a surprise. Most of the films screened were ones made between 1999 and 2001.True to the post modern trends of diversity and individuality, the films were very different in plot and technique. Almost all of them dealt with real life situations from the respective countries. In this respect, it was very clear that they have moved away from the experimentation and abstraction of the New Wave of the 1960s and 70s.

With the use of superior technology, the visual as well as the audio aspects of these films were made appealing irrespective of the plot. The only film, which was disappointing, was the Italian film "The Head is Spinning". A significant aspect of these films was the importance given to the emotional aspect of life and relationships.

"Mifune" (Dogme 3) from Denmark, "Country from Ireland", "Ties and Ropes" from Luxemburg, "The Foreigner" from Austria, "Paradise" and "Seven Days with Seven Women" from Germany and "Kites over Helsinki" from Finland, were good examples of portrayal of emotional highs and lows. The heightened drama and tension in these films came from the exploration of human emotions and relationships.

Another striking facet of most of the films was the importance given to music. In fact "Strictly Sinatra" from Great Britain, "Paradise" from Germany and "Kites over Helsinki" dealt with music, its delights and the hazards faced by composers and singers whether it is classical music, jazz or other contemporary music.

The infectious sense of humour in some of the films made them outstanding. Prominent among such movies were "Do not Disturb" from The Netherlands and "You Shouldn't Worry" from France. The humour was always subtle and not vulgar or obvious. Some of the movies highlighted the suspense resulting from the chase of a culprit, smuggler or murderer, of the punishing arm of the Law.

Again and again, casual sex and drug related problems appeared in the visuals. On the whole, it was a sense of being exposed to a whole different way of life and perception that came through these films. Universal qualities such as love, pain of separation and fear were well interwoven that they made the viewer empathise with the characters.

VASANTHI SANKARANARAYANAN

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