Archive for August, 2014

August 31st 2014

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Venice Film Festival

Saturday August 30th 2014
Venice Film Festival Day 2
“Perché amore” demands the teenage girl sat opposite me.
“Non so!,” grunts the boy with arms folded to chest.
“Non so!,” she says incredulously and looks away.
The bus stops and a throng of festival visitors climb on board, badges hanging from necks.
The silent treatment is working on the boy. His arms come down.
“Wise move, brother,” I think to myself.
At the Excelsior, I follow the signs to Film Market.
At the top of a marble staircase that reveals and then hides itself from the hotel lobby below, I am greeted by three ladies at the market information kiosk.
They direct me towards a hall of mirrors, “yes, that’s the film market.”
This large ball room turns out to be the open area adjacent to market. The latter occupies two medium-sized rooms. The first of these, market proper, has all of seven or eight booths dedicated to film bodies, including Eurimage, a Turkish cinema promoting body and the Chinese sponsor of market.
The place is so monastery-quiet that he sight of hotel guests’ kids running around and popping their heads into the room is a welcome diversion.
The second space dedicated to market is for meetings. This turns out to be half-full with  producers seeking gap funding.
Back at the information desk, I make an appointment with a “matchmaker” from the market team. “He can see you at 11 tomorrow morning.”
This takes the total of meetings I have confirmed to three.
The first is with a film development fund. The head of programmes arrives late, and admits that now he can’t take the meeting, as a film that his fund had supported is having its world premiere. We decide to walk and talk.
We go past the Palazzo del Cinema and walk up the ramp to Palazzo Del Casino, a town-hall like building with a cavernous marble floored reception area.
We join the queue to a pop-up cinema in the grounds nearby.
Short Skin ( Dir. Duccio Chiarini, Italy 2014) is part of the roster of features developed and funded through the Biennale College Cinema, an initiative run by the festival in partnership with Gucci.
Using the the male anatomy as a locust for the coming of age adventures of a teenage boy in a seaside town near Pisa, the film is a master class in telling a universal story with a micro-budget.
As I step into the afternoon heat, I am drawn to the red carpet and the positively restrained razzmatazz, compared to other festivals, for the arrival of world renown movie stars. There is hardly any music celebrating these pre- screening moments, and no public announcements are made welcoming the stars onto the red carpet à la Cannes.
I join the queue for badge holders, for I am not your average member of the pubblico, but a member of the tutti gli accrediti.
On the giant screen behind me, I see Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni and Charlotte Gainsbourg being corralled into the lens path of this wall of photographers, before the cries of the other group gets too loud for the stage manager to ignore.
As I stand in applause along with the full house for the stars at Sala Grande, taking their seats in the balcony at the back, I wonder whether Chiara Mastroianni is feeling the presence of her parents on the big screen before us.
3 Coeurs/ 3 Hearts (Dir. Benoit Jacquot, France 2014) feels like a French take on something that Ruth Rendell would pen. Yet, the cumulative understanding of cinema and storytelling that the leads and director bring to bear on the piece make this a majestic addition, at least, to my film viewing history. Sublime.
Walking past the red carpet, I see the stars of the next premiere arriving. At the very end of the jam of festival limousines, a crowd is quickly gathering.
Looking through the mesh of iPhones and cameras, I catch a glimpse of Al Pacino.
Peace and love,
Ja’farVenice Film Festival Day
“Perché amore” demands the teenage girl sat opposite me.
“Non so!,” grunts the boy with arms folded to chest.
“Non so!,” she says incredulously and looks away.
The bus stops and a throng of festival visitors climb on board, badges hanging from necks.
The silent treatment is working on the boy. His arms come down.
“Wise move, brother,” I think to myself.
At the Excelsior, I follow the signs to Film Market.
At the top of a marble staircase that reveals and then hides itself from the hotel lobby below, I am greeted by three ladies at the market information kiosk.
They direct me towards a hall of mirrors, “yes, that’s the film market.”
The first appointment I have arrives late, and admits that now he can’t take the meeting, as a film he needs to watch is having its world premiere. We decide to walk and talk.
We go past the Palazzo del Cinema and walk up the ramp to Palazzo Del Casino, a town-hall like building with a cavernous marble floored reception area.
We join the queue to a pop-up cinema in the grounds nearby.
Short Skin ( Dir. Duccio Chiarini, Italy 2014) is part of the roster of features developed and funded through the Biennale College Cinema, an initiative run by the festival in partnership with Gucci.
Using the male anatomy as a locust for the coming of age adventures of a teenage boy in a seaside town near Pisa, the film is a master class in telling a universal story with a micro-budget.
As I step into the afternoon heat, I am drawn to the red carpet and the positively restrained razzmatazz, compared to other festivals, for the arrival of world renown movie stars. There is hardly any music celebrating these pre- screening moments, and no public announcements are made welcoming the stars onto the red carpet à la Cannes.
I join the queue for badge holders, for I am not your average member of the pubblico, but a member of the tutti gli accrediti.
On the giant screen behind me, I see Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni and Charlotte Gainsbourg being corralled into the lens path of this wall of photographers, before the cries of the other group gets too loud for the stage manager to ignore.
As I stand in applause along with the full house for the stars at Sala Grande, taking their seats in the balcony at the back, I wonder whether Chiara Mastroianni is feeling the presence of her parents on the big screen before us.
3 Coeurs/ 3 Hearts (Dir. Benoit Jacquot, France 2014) feels like a French take on something that Ruth Rendell would pen. Yet, the cumulative understanding of cinema and storytelling that the leads and director bring to bear on the piece make this a majestic addition, at least, to my film viewing history. Sublime.
Walking past the red carpet, I see the stars of the next premiere arriving. At the very end of the jam of festival limousines, a crowd is quickly gathering.
Looking through the mesh of iPhones and cameras, I catch a glimpse of Al Pacino.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

August 24th 2014

Sunday, August 24th, 2014
August 24th 2014
Filmwise: Watching, reading and enjoying cinema.
Of the innumerable contrasts and disparate states of being that are brought together into a usually crammed space on public transport is that of a nine-to-five attired commuter with an all tan and care free holidaymaker.
On the journey home on Thursday, in the train carriage there was the usual assortment of office suits, other office workers in less formal wear, construction workers with well-worn site boots, and a family visiting London from hotter European climes.
The man was either baffled by the map he was holding or had just realised they were on the wrong train. “Shall I tell the wife now, or wait for the next stop and pretend that turning back is part of the correct route!”
His wife was gently caressing the acne-sprinkled, though beautiful, face of her early teens boy.
Opposite to them, a gentleman in his fifties, in a dark suit, with tie and pressed shirt, was glancing through the free-sheet. Surprisingly, on reaching the sports pages at the back, he folded the paper and tucked it by his side.
The father had now abandoned his book and map and was attempting to make sense of the tube line map above the window.
The man in suit was doe with checking emails on his Blackberry. He placed back in his chest pocket, before reaching into his jacket side pocket. His reading glasses were soon holding the reflection of a Mini iPad.
He began to play solitaire.
While the father appeared to be planning the “guys-I-think-we’re-lost” announcement, his wife was now squeezing one of those white heads on her son’s face.
As the father began to talk, the voice of the driver on the internal PA stopped him.
“The destination of this train has been changed. It is now going to XYZ. My apologies for the inconvenience.”
“@&*#”, silently mouthed the solitaire player.
Peace and love,
Ja’far
Filmwise: Watching, reading and enjoying cinema.
Of the innumerable contrasts and disparate states of being that are brought together into a usually crammed space on public transport is that of a nine-to-five attired commuter with an all tan and care free holidaymaker.
On the journey home on Thursday, in the train carriage there was the usual assortment of office suits, other office workers in less formal wear, construction workers with well-worn site boots, and a family visiting London from hotter European climes.
The man was either baffled by the map he was holding or had just realised they were on the wrong train. “Shall I tell the wife now, or wait for the next stop and pretend that turning back is part of the correct route!”
His wife was gently caressing the acne-sprinkled, though beautiful, face of her early teens boy.
Opposite to them, a gentleman in his fifties, in a dark suit, with tie and pressed shirt, was glancing through the free-sheet. Surprisingly, on reaching the sports pages at the back, he folded the paper and tucked it by his side.
The father had now abandoned his book and map and was attempting to make sense of the tube line map above the window.
The man in suit was done with checking emails on his Blackberry. He placed it back in his chest pocket, before reaching into his jacket side pocket. His reading glasses were soon holding the reflection of a Mini iPad.
He began to play solitaire.
While the father appeared to be planning the “guys-I-think-we’re-lost” announcement, his wife was now squeezing one of those white heads on her son’s face.
As the father began to talk, the voice of the driver on the internal PA stopped him.
“The destination of this train has been changed. It is now going to XYZ. My apologies for the inconvenience.”
“@&*#”, silently mouthed the solitaire player.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

August 17th 2014

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Filmwise: Reading, watching and enjoying cinema.

Taking refuge from the sudden turn for the cold in the weather, I warmed myself at a bookshop.

Perusing the bestseller list, I couldn’t help but notice a certain buzz in the place. Eyes peering over books, necks craning, eyes sparkling and lips parting with a grin. The whole congregation of fathers, mothers, little boys and girls and one or two teenagers, not to mention the staff, all appeared to be part of a little conspiracy.

Pretending to look for an author in the letter section closest to the centre of the shop’s attention, I ran my eyes through the horse-shoe shaped walls.

Checking the hardback biography section was Mr Bill Nighy.

Not two seconds into my joining the implicit agreement in this random sample of Londoners of looking, but not approaching the celebrity in our midst, two girls of no more than 12 or 13 broke rank.

“Hello, can we take a picture, please!”

“Yes, sure.”

The tall and elegant actor bowed down to reach the height of this young fan. The iPhone went tchik.

Giggling with delight and excitement, the second teenagers forgot about asking for her own picture with the star. They both ran out shrieking and, probably, planning their Facebook and Whatsapp moment.

As I stepped back into the cool breeze outside, I wondered if the  man of a thousand magazine covers would have that encounter reserved for the very few – come face to face with a copy of his own autobiography at a bookstore.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

August 10th 2014

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Filmwise: Spent some time editing a short.

“You wouldn’t do that..”

For the first time in many years, I had a second session with my hygienist without exceeding the recommended six-month gap.

With Saturdays this side of 2015 being fully booked up, the best option was an early weekday appointment.

So, on Friday morning, sporting post-hygienist clean teeth, I hopped on the 9:45 train to central London. Moments before the doors shut, two groups joined me in my end of the carriage – a woman and her primary-school age daughter, and an older couple with a boy of a similar age to the girl.

“Oh, it’s so exciting, isn’t it? Going to see the show,” enthused the forty-someting lady, with happy and benevolent notes. Didn’t overhear the response of her daughter.

Not sure how their conversation arrived at the subject of rucksacks, for I was trying to focus on my book, and avoid inadvertently eavesdropping on a private chat.

“You would like that sort of a rucksack, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes, and I will stick it right in your nose, mommy,” replied the little one, with no hint of malice; seemingly thinking it the most appropriate comment to make to her mother.

“Oh, you wouldn’t do that to mommy; no you wouldn’t,” chided the mother, keeping the happy and kindly notes.

As they alighted a few stops from mine, they were followed by the couple with the little boy.

“I bet you they’re going to the same show!,” said the woman to her companion.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

August 3rd 2014

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Filmwise: Jotting down a couple of ideas for the little girl in Baghdad story, and revisiting a couple of new treatments. All good.

“Figlio!”

In an interview I read a few years ago, a well-known author spoke of the central place in his mornings that the traditional Italian espresso maker plays. “Two of these last me a whole decade,” he’d said.

Well, this past fortnight, my espresso has been acquiring increasingly loud notes of ash and the aroma of a stale packet of cigarettes. My coffeemaker has had too many summers and winters with me.

At a department store, I opted for the own-brand espresso maker, rather than the world renowned Italian make. “You pay more than double just for the name,” assured me the lady at the till.

Back at home, the proceedings for preparing the maiden beverage came to a sudden halt, when I encountered a bent nozzle inside the contraption.

Back at the  department store, I inspected another identical item and took it to the till.

In the queue, I was ahead of a young Italian couple.

Looking for her son, the mother called out in her beautiful tongue, “figlio, figlio!”.

“Figlio, figlio,” called back a little boy on a skateboard, as he flamboyantly brought his transporter to a stop before his parents.

Peace and love,

Ja’far