Kalki Koechlin shines as Laila in Margarita, With a Straw – Indian film opens #VIWIFF2015

Kalki Koechlin as Laila in Margarita, with a Straw

Kalki Koechlin as Laila in Margarita, with a Straw

By Manjit Bains

I’m not sure if this is a film I can tell you to watch.

How open are you when it comes to controversial topics surrounding coming of age? When you watch Hindi films, do you turn away from the screen when they’re about to kiss? If so, then this is not the film for you.

Margarita With a Straw is a beautiful film about love and balance, in whatever form that may take.

It is the story of Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a young girl in the process of becoming a woman. Continue reading

Belgian short comedy Taxistop to screen at #VIWIFF2015

taxistop A5-200dpiOddly, comedy was a somewhat underrepresented genre in the years when I volunteered for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival programming committee. As a former story editor, I know how difficult it is to write and edit comedy and how unrewarding producing comedies can be – at least if you aspire to win any significant awards. The audience, however, tends to love comedies and for a festival programmer it is a welcome relief to watch a comedy now and then amongst a wide range of social and women’s issues films.

Belgium is a funny country per se. Did you know the tiny Western European nation with only 11 million inhabitants has three different official languages (Dutch/Flemish, French and German), three regional governments (Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital), more than a dozen political parties and the dubious distinction of hosting Europe’s most traffic-congested cities? Continue reading

Award-winning Bulgarian feature The Lesson a contemporary take on Italian neorealism

THE LESSON - Still 6

In the first film history class that I took I learned the word “verisimilitude” and was introduced to, and fell in love with, Italian neorealism. Films like Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) changed how I looked at cinema. Italian neorealist films are distinguished by being shot on location among the poor, often using non-actors in situations that reflected the desperate times that followed the end of World War Two. These films about survival are intensely moving, uncomfortable, disturbing and utterly captivating.

The Lesson (Urok, Bulgaria 2014) seems to me like a contemporary take on Italian neorealism substituting post-WWII Italy with Bulgaria in the more current European economic crisis. Continue reading

Catharine Parke’s Short Doc Very Good Dirt to screen at #VIWIFF2015

Dirt2

***update: Catharine Parke’s short documentary Very Good Dirt will screen in the shorts section “Around the World in Eight Shorts” on Saturday, March 7th, at 7 PM at the 2015 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. WIFTV President Carleen Kyle spoke with Catharine about her film a few months ago for the blog post below.***

Catharine Parke wears many hats. The WIFTV member is an accomplished documentary and factual television professional winning Leo Awards for Best Direction in an Information or Lifestyle Series for Get Stuffed, Best Screenwriting in a Documentary Program or Series for Ice Pilots NWT and a Producer nomination in the Best Information or Lifestyle Series category for She’s Crafty.

I called her up to ask about her short documentary, Very Good Dirt being selected by Telefilm Canada for the 7th edition of Not Short on Talent.

Continue reading