Indian links at Sydney Film Festival 2022

Thirteen Indian films are set to screen at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, including a retrospective of the legendary Satyajit Ray.

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This year’s Sydney Film Festival reaps a variety of strong Indian films.

A diverse selection brings to surface a documentary, a feature film, a fantasy film, and 10 retrospective films.

Two brothers rescuing Black Kites from toxic air in New Delhi. A man on a journey of belonging whilst being persecuted for his religious status. A couple whose lives are changed by a fantasy being. And an array of films from the late Satyajit Ray, renowned for being one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century.

All That Breathes is a Hindi documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Shaunak Sen.

This  documentary is an introspective look at climate change and environmental pollution in New Delhi. It is layered with an abstract lens, where the director follows the life of two brothers, Mohamad Saud and Nadeem Shahzadas, who have devoted their life’s work to rescuing Black Kite birds injured by the toxic air.

Shaunak Sen has said that the essence of the film is the idea of: ‘The relationship between the skies and the non-human life in Delhi, and it’s relationship with two human protagonists.’

All that breathes still
All That Breathes Still (Source: Sydney Film Festival)

It captures the worsening environmental system and the struggling Black Kites amidst the grey, hazy sky of New Delhi. All That Breathes is an eye-opening work on the detrimental impacts of climate change that is seeping into the lives of all living beings.

The next work is a feature film titled No Land’s Man, and is directed by award-winning, Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostafa Sarwar Farooki.

The film is inspired by the Farooki’s own life story who said:

“I was born in Naokhali, located in the southern part of Bangladesh… I would keep lying about where I was from to protect myself… I began to see how it impacts our minds, creates a hole in our hearts when we can’t be known as who we are.”

Mostofa Sarwar Farooki – Dir Headshot
Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (Source: Sydney Film Festival)

The film trails Naveen Cheema, an Ahmadi man who is persecuted for his religion in one country, and then for not being that same religion in another country. Naveen constructs a new identity to find temporary refuge, and through this explores his identity and begins his journey of self-discovery.

No Land's Man Still
No Land’s Man Still (Source: Sydney Film Festival)

“[I] tried to make a film that can portray a helpless world where no one can feel safe,” the director wrote.

Fairy Folk is an Indian magical realism film directed by Karan Gour about an ordinary Mumbai couple, Mohit and Ritika, whose lives stumble into the extraordinary when they meet a non-human genderless being.

From here on, it is a spiral of events. A disrupted relationship, cloned identities and bodily transformations follow. The enticing film explores themes of identity, relationships, and their overlap in a fantastical lens.

The next films are re-screenings, honouring the works of the late Satyajit Ray (1921-1992), an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter, and documentarist known for his humanist lens to storytelling.

The first showing at the Sydney Film festival is his 1st film from 1955, an adaption of a classic 1928 Bengali semi-biographical novel. Pather Panchali is a bildungsroman story of Apu, a boy from a Bengal village.

Pather Panchali Still
Pather Panchali Still (Source: Sydney Film Festival)

It was renowned for being one of the first film to open Indian cinema to a global audience and kickstarted Ray’s international film career, setting up The Apu Trilogy (Pather Panjali, Aparajito, The World of Apu).

The Music Room, about the decadent lives of the Zamindars, is not to be missed as one of his most important works.

Also in the program: Devi, a commentary film about Hindu superstitions, Charulata, a tale of a lonely wife, The Hero, the inception of a hero and a journalist, Company Limited, the moral demise of a successful man, and The Chess Players, based on a short story about powers struggles and the British colonisation of India.

There is a plethora of choice for avid film critics.

The Sydney Film Festival 2022 program can be found online at Sydney Film Festival

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