M A I N   N E W S

Big challenge from small countries
Amar Chandel
Tribune News Service

Panjim (Goa), December 5
India faces a stiff challenge in the competition section of the 35th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) not only from heavyweights like Russia and China but also countries like Thailand which have started making a mark on the world stage now.

One of the strongest contenders is “Beautiful Boxer” which has already been declared the best film at Milano and Torino. What makes it all the more remarkable is that it is the debut film of Thai director Ekachai Uekrongtham, who is here at the festival. He happens to be an award-winning theatre director and founding artistic director of ACTION Theatre, a Singapore-based professional theatre company.

It is the real-life story of an ace Thai kickboxer who is actually a girl trapped in a boy’s body since childhood. He masters the most masculine and lethal sport to earn a living and to achieve his ultimate goal of total femininity.

Any boy wanting to wear makeup and behave like a girl is ridiculed in any society, more so when he is engaged in the fiercest of macho sports. This subject of transvestites is handled by the debutant director in a spell-binding manner.

The film has also been to Berlin, Norway, San Francisco, Vancouver, Athens and Hong Kong festivals.

A unique feature of the festival this time is the Indian premier of five films here. The most awaited of them is “Finding Neverland” from the USA starring Kate Winslet, Johny Depp, Julie Christie and Radha Mitchell. In the period drama, Marc Forster, the director of such hits as “Loungers”, “Everything Put Together” and “Monster’s Ball”, tells the true story of Scottish playwright and author James M. Barrie struggling to bring to the stage for the first time a play called “Peter Pan”.

Kate, known for her iconic role in “Titanic”, has deglamorised herself to play the role of a widowed mother of four precocious sons. But it is Johnny Depp who impresses more as an actor.

A new Konkani film, “Alisha”, produced on the eve of the IFFI, will be premiered tomorrow. This will be the first Konkani film to be screened at an international film festival.

Remo blasts

Well-known Goan singer and composer Remo Fernandes has been engaged to perform at the closing ceremony of the festival on December 9. But that has not stopped him from writing a stinging article in a local daily questioning the wisdom of spending crores of rupees on the hosting of the festival when the civic services in the state are in a total mess.

In the signed article he says on the one hand the government blames the pitiful state of roads, schools, health and education to lack of funds on the other, they do have Rs 120 crore (“that’s the official figure; I leave it to you to guess the ‘unofficial’ one”) for a film festival.

His other grouse is that this huge sum is being spent on promoting and helping the film industry. Does the Indian film industry, “known to be one of the richest and most corrupt industries in the country, known for its black money, for its underground connections, for its perverted lifestyles, ruled by casting couches,” require our government’s financial backing, specially to such an astronomical extent? asks Remo, who enjoys a cult status in his home state.

At a time when Goa is bending over backwards to garner the support of everyone for making the festival a success, this severe stricture from a son of the soil has caused a lot of flutter here.

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