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 - TEN (IRAN-2002)
Thursday, 23 February 2023
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Screenplay: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Mania Akbari, Amina Maher, Kamran Adl, Roya Akbari, Roya, Arabshahi, Amene Moradi, Mandana Sharbaf, Katayoun Taleizadeh
Abbas Kiarostami, often called Iran's greatest filmmaker, is fond of stripping personalities bare through conversations they have while riding in cars!The entire film almost seems like a documentary and is filmed with a dashboard camera whose focus rarely leaves the taxi's front seat. This is a rare chance for viewers to eavesdrop on everyday talk in Tehran that, although fictionalized, must approximate what really happens in Iran's busy capital.
In this film he pushes his favourite dramatic device to its limit as he fills a whole movie with close-ups of a smart, independent-minded Tehran woman and a series of passengers in her front seat including her sister, a religious old woman, a prostitute, and her pre-teen son.
The mercurial taxi driver turns her position into a platform from which she can rage. She is angry at her ex-husband, whom she divorced. She's volatile with her young son, who is equally on edge with her. She's philosophical and inquisitive with riders, all of whom (except for her son) are women. These are private moments on the streets of Tehran where every subject is discussed, including sex and desire...
Film Club - MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005) - USA
Thursday, 19 January 2023
Director: Rob Marshall
Screenplay: Robin Swicord, based on the novel by Arthur Golden
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li, Tsai Chin, Suzuka Ohgo, Togo Igawa, Mako, Samantha Futerman, Elizabeth Sung
Academy Awards: Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design
Screen Actors Guild Nomination: Best Actress (Ziyi Zhang)
The film is a feast for the eyes with superb cinematography, costume and production design and a score by John Williams and cello solos by the great Yo-Yo Ma.
A sumptuously faithful and evocative film adaptation of Arthur Golden's celebrated novel tells the story of a young Japanese girl who is sold by her impoverished family to a geisha house to support them by training as and eventually becoming a geisha. The film centers around the sacrifices and hardships faced by pre-World War II geisha, and the challenges posed by the war and a modernizing world to geisha society.
The story is told exclusively from the point of view of the titular geisha (Ziyi Zhang). We see her life from a poverty stricken child to her years spent in servitude, her training and emergence as a geisha, her brief reign that is interrupted by the war, and her re-emergence as a geisha. Along the way she faces kindness from a handsome businessman (Ken Watanabe), bitter opposition from a rival (Gong Li) at the geisha house, and strict but loving training by a veteran geisha (Michelle Yeoh).
Film Club - TO LIVE (1994) - CHINA
Thursday, 15 December 2022
Director: Zhang Yimou
Screenplay: Wei Lu, based on the novel by Hua Yu
Cast: You Ge, Gong Li, Ben Niu, Wu Jiang, Denf Fei, Tao Guo,
Awards: Cannes Film Festival: Grand Jury Prize (Zhang Yimou) & Best Actor (You Ge)
A spirited melodramatic epic that covers three decades of Chinese history from the 1940s...
The film is seen through the eyes of an average couple who undergo tremendous personal changes in their life because of the changing political situation in their country. During the 1940s the wastrel son (You Ge) of a rich merchant gambles away the family fortune and loses the valued family mansion. His father dies of grief and his wife (Gong Li) becomes a beggar with her adolescent daughter and baby son. The family is reunited when he swears off gambling but he gets caught up in the civil war between Chiang Kai-Shek's nationalists and the winning Mao Zedong's communists. He survives the horrors of the battlefield and upon returning home learns that his impoverished daughter has lost her voice and the family has to learn to survive anew amongst the harshness of the new Communist regime. The family remains hopeful despite bizarre twists and tragic losses as they simply want to live and don't really care about the politics they are surrounded by...
Film Club - CAKE (2018) - PAKISTAN
Thursday, 17 November 2022
A MUST WATCH!
An ongoing revival of Pakistani Cinema
Director: Asim Abbasi
Screenplay: Asim Abbasi
Lux Style Awards: Nominations for Best Actor (Mohammad Ahmad), Best Actor (Adnan Malik), Best Actress (Aamina Sheikh), Best Actress (Sanam Saeed)
Cast: Aamina Sheikh, Sanam Saeed, Adnan Malik, Mohammad Ahmad, Beo Raana Zafar, Faris Khalid, Hira Hussain, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Bob D'Erlanger
The film explores the bittersweet and sometimes toxic relationships within a dysfunctional family. Set in a milieu of a contemporary Sindhi family living in Karachi, the film narrates the life of middle child (Aamina Sheikh) who lives and takes care of her aging and unwell parents and her reaction to the arrival from abroad of her elder brother (Faris Khalid) and younger sister (Sanam Saeed) amidst a family emergency...
A Pandora's Box of family secrets emerge as long-simmering sibling rivalries come to the surface and cracks between the family members begin to show. An eventful anniversary party threatens to destroy whatever little relationship still exists between the siblings but is averted just in time.
The perceptive screenplay brings a fresh outlook to what could have been a maudlin set of events. Real-life situations like parents growing old, family responsibilities becoming one's own problems, tackling an inter-religious relationship when one of the daughters gets involved with her father's Christian nurse (Adnan Malik) are just some of the issues on view which are acted to perfection by the entire cast.
Not only is the film visually well-put-together, the prominent soundtrack showcases contemporary Pakistani songs that accentuate pivotal scenes and emphasize the cultural significance of certain ceremonies that take place in the film.
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 ...