There’s something about free screenings that grows on us. It makes one explore. And that’s exactly what the scene was on the second day of Jagran Film Festival. Most of the people registering were young and none of the halls went empty. Following an opening ceremony to mark the commencement of the six-day long cinematic extravaganza, the following day showed more promise. Even before it could turn nine in the morning, cinephiles had already started gathering outside Fun Republic the venue.
The first screening of the day belonged to the Korean film 200 Pounds Beauty. Showcased under the World Panorama category, the two-hour long drama succeeded in grabbing high attention quotient. Directed by Kim Yong-Hwa, it’s a beautiful story of an overweight phone sex employee Hanna, who’s also a ghost for a famous pop singer. The film dealt with the protagonist’s insecurities, which lead her to attempt suicide but was interrupted by a phone call that changes her life.
The second film of the day was Hassan Benjelloun’s 108-minute Arabic biopic The Red Moon La Lune Rouge. The Moroccan film is more of a fiction based on the biography of a great musician who overcame the bitterness of infirmities, material deprivation and human cruelties by an unshakable faith. It was about the permanent challenge of artistic creation inspired by an exceptional love. Cinephiles in the cinema hall constituted mainly of film students.
Regarded as one of the top 10 films showcased at this festival, The Children’s Republic, was next in line. Directed by Flora Gomes, this English film from Portugal is set in the West Africa. It was the story of a small country, which every adult had abandoned. But the children get organised and make the Children's Republic a stable and prosperous country. In this 78-minute film, the director attempts to show the power of children to change the world.
Other films showcased in this category were Ricky Rijneke’s Hungarian film Silent Ones and Lars Kraume’s German film Meine Shwestern (My Sisters), also labelled as one of the Top 10 films showcased at the festival. This 85-minute film is the story of a 30-year-old Linda suffering from a congenital heart disease. On sensing her near death, she tries to come closer to herself and her two sisters - for the last time.
The Indian Showcase category began with Kamal Hassan’s critically acclaimed Vishwaroopam. Made in Tamil and Hindi, this 147-minute features follows Vishwanathan, a Kathak dance teacher in New York, and his rather happy marriage with Nirupama, a nuclear oncologist. She hires a detective to keep a watch on her husband, who ends up in a wrong place that revealed Vishwanathan's true identity.
There were some regional films such as Rajeev Kumar’s Punjabi film Nabar, Niranjan Thade’s Gujarati film Saptapadii (The Businessman’s Wife) and Gajendra Ahire’s Marathi film Touring Talkies to relish too. Interestingly, most of the audiences relied on the subtitles.
In the Jagran Shorts section, several shorties were screened. The Hunter, Al Djazira, Zero Hour, Reverie-Day Dream and Chumbak were showcased. M S Sathyu’s Garam Hawa was shown as well in the early evening. Alongside, in the Jagran Classics segment, Girish Kasaravalli's Ghatashradha, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand, Ritwik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tare, Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali and Kim Han-Min's War of the Arrows were screened to half-filled auditoriums.
The forthcoming days at the festival will host many more special segments dedicated to National and International cinema - screening numerous feature and short films across genres, directed by debutants as well as some eminent cinematic personalities from around the globe.