Reporting from the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala, Rajeev Srinivasan writes about two particularly striking films that were screened at the fest.
The 17th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) concluded recently in Trivandrum cementing its reputation as India's best film fest, especially in showcasing world cinema, both contemporary and retrospective.
There were selections from the works of the Japanese master, Akira Kurosawa, and from the French New Wave's Alain Resnais. In addition, there were many recent films, including those honoured at Cannes, Berlin and other festivals.
Among the many good films on offer, I felt that two stood out, and both were on a theme that gets little attention: old age and impending death. Understandably, these are gloomy thoughts and do not lend themselves to entertainment, but these two films prove that in the hands of a master filmmaker, they can lead to great cinema.
The first is a masterpiece from Kurusowa, Ikiru, from way back in 1952. The other is Amour, by Austrian director Michael Haneke, and it won the best film award or Palme d'Or at Cannes 2012. Separated thus by 60 years, they speak about the universal issue of confronting one's own mortality.
Ikiru (To live), in black and white and set in the bleak atmosphere of post-war Japan, is the story of a bureaucrat in the Kafkaesque City Hall in Tokyo. He has spent his entire life in meaningless paper-pushing; and then he is confronted with the intimations of his own mortality in the form of stomach cancer. He realises he has less than a year to live, and he is forced to re-examine his life, and what he will do with that short time.