The Film Club Subgroup organises regular showings. The films shown are specifically from Asian countries or representative of Asian Cultures/ themes. They are subtitled in English and cover most genres - drama, comedy, mystery, horror, fantasy, romance or thrillers. The presentation begins with a brief introduction to the film which is followed at the end by a Q/A session . During the summer months classics are usually shown.
Coordinator: Reza Said Khan
Film Club - THE PAST (2013) – IRAN / FRANCE
Thursday, 20 October 2022
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi
Award: Cannes Film Festival – Best Actress (Bernice Bejo)
Cast: Berenice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani, Babak Karimi
Like Farhadi’s previous film (“A Separation”) this one also confirms his unique ability to explore how constant chatter and anguished outbursts obscure the capacity for honest communication. This story is secretly like a detective mystery about relationships only partially understood by their participants.
Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arrives in Paris from his native Iran four years after separating from his French wife Marie (Berenice Bejo) in order to finalize their divorce. He finds the family at an uneven crossroads: While Marie plans to marry Samir (Tahar Rahim), her daughter Lucie (Pauline Burlet) from an earlier marriage maintains distance from her mother as she is frustrated by the older woman’s string of fleeting romances. Meanwhile, she must contend with the presence of preadolescent Fouad (Elys Aguis), Samir’s son, who lives with the family in the suburbs while Samir works in the city. Ahmad uncovers its most troublesome aspect through casual discussion: Samir’s wife lies comatose in a hospital after a botched suicide attempt.
The screenplay slowly reveals its puzzle pieces exposing troubled people trapped by a network of errors and tragedy in this wrenching, relentlessly intelligent drama..
Film Club - DEATH ON THE NILE (1978) -UK
Thursday, 22 September 2022
Director: John Guillermin
Screenplay: Anthony Shaffer, based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Academy Award: Costume Design
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Jane Birkin, Lois Chiles, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Jon Finch, Olivia Hussey, I.S. Johar, George Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, Simon MacCorkindale, David Niven, Maggie Smith, Jack Warden, Harry Andrews, Sam Wanamaker, Celia Imrie, Saeed Jaffrey
During a honeymoon cruise down the Nile an heiress (Lois Chiles) is found murdered. Many of her traveling companions on the ship immediately become suspects. Is the killer her new husband (Simon MacCorkindale) or is it the husband’s jilted fiancé (Mia Farrow). Other suspects are a flamboyant author (Angela Lansbury), who was being sued by the dead woman for libel; the author’s daughter (Olivia Hussey); a rich dowager (Bette Davis) who coveted the heiress’ jewels; a traveling companion (Maggie Smith) who was wronged in the past by the deceased; her attorney (Jack Warden) who was trying to swindle her and a communist (Jon Finch) who is against the rich. Also traveling on the ship is the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov). Bodies begin piling up until Poirot gathers the survivors into a single room, and in classic Christie fashion begins laying out who did what to whom.
A clever, witty, well-plotted, beautifully produced and splendidly acted screen version of Agatha Christie’s mystery. This old-fashioned stylized entertainment is shot completely on location in Egypt.
Film Club - THE LION IN WINTER (1968) - USA
Tuesday, 23 August 2022
Director: Anthony Harvey
Screenplay: James Goldman, based on his play
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Nigel Terry, Timothy Dalton, Jane Merrow, Nigel Stock, Kenneth Griffith
In its simplest terms the film is about a family getting together at Christmas and squabbling amongst themselves. But this is no ordinary family as it delves back into 12th century British history and dissects the poisonous relationships between King Henry II (Peter O'Toole), his wife Queen Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn) and their three sons - Richard (Anthony Hopkins in one of his first big screen appearances), Geoffrey (John Castle) and John (Nigel Terry). Also invited into the fray are the young King Phillip II of France (Timothy Dalton) - the son of Eleanor's ex-husband (King Louis VII) by his third wife and a former lover of Richard - and Alais (Jane Merrow) - daughter of Eleanor's ex-husband by his second wife, and Phillip's half sister who is betrothed to Richard but is mistress to Henry.
A convoluted set of relationships which, during the gathering, explodes into a potpourri of scheming, lying and manipulation as each character tries to safeguard their position. Although the play's title refers to the King it is the Queen who gets the best lines and Katharine Hepburn gleefully runs with it parrying with everyone around, a perpetual smile on her face, as she knocks off the witty dialogue and at the same time letting slip her vulnerability which she mostly keeps masked. Her main battle is with her husband, who has had her imprisoned for the last ten years but has allowed her out of prison during the holiday season to discuss passing on the realm to one of their sons. She favors the brave soldier, Richard, while he favors the younger son John who he knows is an incapable coward. Geoffrey, the middle son, is like his mother - a cold, calculating schemer devoid of love from both his parents and willing to sell everyone around him to stay alive. Despite all their animosity towards each other the Royal couple deep down still love each other but have reached a stage in their lives when all the scheming and betrayals through the years have usurped the true love each had for the other. It's now come down to the matter of trying to survive through all the games being played around them.
Harvey superbly handles his cast and successfully opens up the play with many scenes set in the open countryside, on the river, on hilltops and on the beach. Mostly the drama takes place inside the imposing walls of the dank, dark filthy castle. Extremely literate film with a wonderful cast and production values.
Film Club - THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) - USA
Tuesday, 16 August 2022
Director: Charles Laughton
Screenplay: James Agee, based on the novel by Davis Grubb
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Peter Graves, Don Beddoe, Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce, Gloria Castillo
Mesmerizing, horrific fairy tale with striking cinematography, haunting music, and storytelling which incorporates allusions to everything from the Bible to Hansel & Gretel to Huckleberry Finn, providing viewers with a great deal to ponder and discuss.
A psychopathic killer (Robert Mitchum), masquerading as an itinerant preacher during the Great Depression, has married a succession of women, taken their money, and killed them. Soon after arriving in a rural town he marries a widow (Shelley Winters) whose husband hid $10,000 from a robbery before he was arrested and executed for murder. The only people who know where the money is hidden are the widow's young children who swore to their father never to tell the money's location. But their new stepfather is going to make them talk even if it means he has to torture them. Coming to the rescue of the children is a no-nonsense farm woman (Lillian Gish) who with her shotgun becomes the children's protector.
The film's style weaves between harsh reality and lyrical realization, though it leans towards the latter. The Depression-era story is odd, but sadly believable (it was based on real events). The telling is often strange and unexpected with its style going back to silent films, but the subject matter - sexual repression, religious hypocrisy, child abuse - was too hot and downbeat for the times and the film flopped during the repressed 1950s. Subsequently the film was re-evaluated and is now considered to be a masterpiece. This was the only film actor Charles Laughton directed.
Film Club - LIFEBOAT (1944) - USA
Monday, 27 June 2022
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: John Steinbeck & Jo Swerling
Cast: Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee
Academy Award Nominations: Best Director, Original Story, Cinematography
Made during WWII the film has many elements of propaganda as did most films coming out of Hollywood during the war years. However, what makes it highly original is the concept of the story being set entirely on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. And like all films by Hitchcock this too is a murder-mystery but set in the confines of a small space.
When a British Merchant ship and a German U-boat sink each other in the Atlantic Ocean several British and American civilians find themselves stuck on a lifeboat. The passengers pull on board a German survivor from the sunk U-boat and debate if he should be thrown back into the sea or allowed to sit with them in the lifeboat. The majority of the survivors vote that he should be allowed to remain on board. Soon things go missing, their water supply is sabotaged and some passengers mysteriously fall overboard. Is there a murderer on board? Can the German man be trusted?
The film caused controversy because the film glorifies the German character while denigrating the American and British characters. Hitchcock responded to the criticism by explaining that the film's moral was that the Allies needed to stop bickering and work together to win the war. The film is now viewed more favorably and has been listed by several modern critics as one of Hitchcock's most underrated films. Also receiving rave reviews was stage star Talllulah Bankhead as the sophisticated but acid-tongued journalist who bit by bit loses her glamour as the story progresses.
Film Club - KHAMOSH PANI / SILENT WATERS (2003) - Pakistan / France / Germany
Monday, 23 May 2022
Director: Sabiha Sumar
Screenplay: Sabiha Sumar & Paromita Vohra
Cast: Kirron Kher, Arshad Mahmood, Salman Shahid, Shilpa Shukla, Sarfaraz Ansari, Tanveer Ahmad, Zaheer Ahmed
Locarno Film Festival: Best Film / Best Actress (Kirron Kher)
A stirring and sad film about the rise of fundamentalism in1979, leading to intolerance, violence, and the reassertion of patriarchal control of women.
Middle-aged widow (Kirron Kher) gets by on her late husband’s pension and by teaching the Quran to young girls. Her 18-year-old son, Saleem (Aamir Malik), is a handsome, loafer who scoots off for secret rendezvous with his sweetheart, Zubeida (Shilpa Shukla), a teen from a much richer family. Nagged by Zubeida to get a job, Saleem drifts into the circle of some Islamic fundamentalists, joins their cause, and is soon harassing Sikhs who’ve been given permission to enter the country as pilgrims. The son's fundamentalist friends hear that his mother still has Sikh sympathies, and they pressure him to get her to publicly re-state her faith in Islam. However, flashbacks to the violent Partition hint that the boy's mother is hiding a secret even he doesn’t know.
The film is a strong indictment of the intolerance and the abuse of women caused by religious differences. It helps us to better appreciate the vulnerability of women during times of political crises ...
Film Club - PARADISE NOW (2005) - Palestine
Thursday, 14 April 2022
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Screenplay: Hanu Abu-Assad, Bero Beyer & Pierre Hodgson
Cast: Lubna Azabel, Hamza Abu-Aiaash, Kais Nashif, Lutuf Nouasser, Ali Suliman, Mohammad Bustami, Ahmad Fares, Waleed On-Allah
Academy Award: Nomination for Best Foreign Film
Tense, thoughtful and emotional drama that is as absorbing as it is relevant.
Inside the mind of a Palestinian suicide bomber is this story which involves two days in the lives of Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), two Palestinians, garage mechanics and best friends, who are recruited to cross into Israel and blow themselves up. This thoughtfully constructed film attempts to examine why people would be driven to such extremes. The two men are not shown as fanatics. They prepare for their task as one would prepare for any difficult assignment. The organization that supports them provides training, encouragement, praise, shaves and haircuts, suits and ties, a ceremonial dinner, and a chance to make videos that will be shown on television.
Despite the grim nature of the story, the screenplay finds room for moments of black humour. Instead of a penetrating psychological study, the film is fashioned as a thriller. Conviction mingles with vacillation, and once an unexpected hitch in the suicide plan arises, all bets are off. The film continues to twist and turn until the very end, keeping us guessing as to what the would-be martyrs will do. Ultimately action speaks louder than words, even for men who walk softly but carry big sticks of dynamite.
Film Club – IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2000) - Hong Kong, China
Thursday, 7 April 2022
Director: Wong Kar-Wei
Screenplay: Wong Kar-Wei
Cast: Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Siu Ping-Lam, Tung Cho "Joe" Cheung, Rebecca Pan, Kelly Lai Chen, Man-Lei Chan
Cannes Film Festival: Best Actor - Tony Leung
Visually beautiful and emotionally moving film about an understated romance. The film provides profound and moving reflections on life's fundamentals as it takes on the themes of love, betrayal, loss, missed opportunities, memory, the brutality of time's passage and loneliness.
In 1962 British Hong Kong, Shanghai expatriates, a journalist (Tony Leung), and a secretary (Maggie Cheung) at a shipping company, rent rooms in adjacent apartments. Each has a spouse who works and often leaves them alone on overtime shifts. Although they are initially friendly to each other they grow closer as they realize that their spouses are having an affair. As time passes, they acknowledge that they have developed feelings for each other but are forced to keep their relationship platonic in order to do the 'correct thing'.
Stylish and very moving film is sumptuously mounted with gorgeous cinematography, sets and costumes. Both stars give superb performances in a film of stolen glances and fleeting touches, as they both master this quiet and chaste dance.
Film – IL SORPASSO / THE EASY LIFE (1962) - ITALY
Tuesday, 28 December 2021
Director: Dino Risi
Screenplay: Dino Risi, Ettore Scola & Ruggero Maccari
Cast: Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Catherine Spaak, Claudio Gora, Luciana Angiolillo, Linda Sini, Franca Polesello
David Di Donatello Award: Best Actor (Vittorio Gassman)
An Italian road movie about an unlikely friendship that develops after a chance encounter between a liberal man (Vittorio Gassman) and a conservative law student (Jean-Louis Trintignant).
Like a whirlwind the student's entire life is transformed as they both go on this impromptu frantic journey with their contrasting personalities and outlooks on life, leading to a number of fascinating conversations, as the two traverse the roads of Italy. The stunning historic architecture of Rome and the scenic vistas of the countryside roads act as a delightful backdrop which the director exploits to its full potential, painting a magical picture of an enticing part of Italy.
The charming comedy is the personification of the Swinging Sixties as the pair indulge in fun involving bars, the beach and a bevy of beautiful women. Also like many great comedies, there is a tragic undercurrent to the story that adds depth to its humour as the senseless decadence reaches a heart-stopping climax. The film is shot entirely on location and without the use of back projection which provides a sense of immediacy and realism to the story.
Film Club– BEFORE THE RAINS (2007) - UK
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Director: Santosh Shivan
Screenplay: Cathy Rabin
Cast: Linus Roache, Rahul Bose, Nandita Das, Jennifer Ehle, Leopold Benedict, John Standing, Lal, Dr. Ambikathmajan, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
Awards: Houston Film Festival: Best Theatrical Feature
The story, set in Kerala - South India - during the British Raj, is a dispassionate study of how power, when threatened, ruthlessly exercises its prerogatives.
Henry Moore (Linus Roache), an English tea planter in southwestern India during a time of mounting resentment towards British rule, has borrowed heavily to finance the building of a road for the fantastically lucrative spice trade. He has his faithful ''man'', an educated Indian (Rahul Bose), well read and devoted, whom he treats as a friend but up to a point. He also has a mistress. Unbeknownst to his wife (Jennifer Ehle) , he has become involved with the housemaid (Nandita Das) . He says he loves her and she, wed to a man in the village, risks everything to carry on the affair, but when two boys playing in the woods spot the adulterers, a series of tragic events are set in motion.
The luscious scenery, shot by director-cinematographer Santosh Sivan is gorgeous to behold as his camera captures stunning images of mist rising from tea plantations and angry villagers marching with torches. The film is fervently acted with Nandita Das providing a powerful, emotional force.