88 min.,INDIA, dir. Manish Acharya| Reviewer Ed Farolan

A “Desi" (sanskrit meaning South Asian immigrants and their descendants, referring to Indians and Pakistanis) singing contest in New Jersey is the topic of this extremely hilarious film which was received warmly by a full-house audience who laughed and applauded throughout the film. Its director, Manish Acharya who also plays a part in the film (the hero, of course!) should come to Surrey/North Delta and do a similar film with our local actors.

In this parody, we see different types competing for the $25,000 prize sponsored by a pork loin company owned by a Punjabi who came as a poor immigrant to America, and as the same old story goes for poor immigrants who come to Canada, made it rich. There is the quiet 17-year old Preeti Patel (Ishitta Sharma) who sings but doesn't speak at all except in one scene where she makes a deal with scheming socialite Rita Kapoor (Shabana Azmi). Another character is foul-mouthed gay bhangra rapper B.D.G. (Ajay Naidu), who was extremely funny and entertaining.

Then there's the love match between the beautiful but frustrated actress Sania Rahman (Seema Rahmani) who can’t get cast in movies because she doesn't look ethnic enough, and futures analyst Vikram Tejwani (director Manish Acharya) whose job has just been outsourced to India. How ironic, eh? And last but not least, the outsider, Josh Cohen (Michael Raimondi), a nice "white" Jewish guy who loves all things Indian, because he might have been an Indian in his past life, according to his girl friend Opama (Ayesha Dharker). There are other characters who were totally wacky in this movie, including someone called Saddam Hussein who got fired and couldn't get hired because of his name.

I'm sure the "desi" community here in Vancouver will enjoy this absolutely entertaining film, which may resemble a "mockumentary", but at the same time, it provides serious undertones of what all immigrants feel living in a foreign country such as belonging, defining home, and self-image.



94 min.,JAPAN, dir. Uchida Nobutero | Reviewer Ed Farolan

Nobutero uses as his jumping board for this horror film the all-too-well fairytale of Hansel and Gretel. The movie starts off with Lee Eun-Soo driving along a forest road when he swerves to avoid roadkill and crashes. Dazed, he’s rescued by a mysterious girl who brings him to the “House of Happy Children” in the heart of the forest. He’s welcomed for the night by the owners (an adult couple and their three children), and the house is a fairytale house, with presents and a Christmas tree and toys strewn all over. And then the nightmare begins. Whenever he tries to leave, he gets lost and can't get out of the labyrinthine forest.

The director who briefly spoke before the film started said that this was a "dark fantasy" and was happy working with the children in the film which will be commercially screened soon.



127 min.,GERMANY, dir. Doris Dörrie| Reviewer Ed Farolan

Veteran director Doris Dörrie delivers this award-winning emotional and moving story of mature marital love, starring two of the greatest German actors: Hannelore Elsner and Elmar Wepper.

" I tried to investigate serious questions about life and death, love and loss in a ... lighthearted way: ... Is it possible to enjoy the present moment in the face of death? What makes us blossom? What makes us whither?" comments Doris Dörrie about her new film.

In this film, Trudi knows that her husband Rudi is suffering from a terminal illness but doesn't reveal it to him, and instead convinces him to visit their children and grandchildren in Berlin. But their children are busy with their own lives and have no time for them. And so they decide to go to the Baltic Sea, and then, a twist of fate:Trudi suddenly dies.

Rudi decides to go to Japan as he learns that his wife wanted to live as a Butoh dancer in Japan. What comes next is totally surprising and moving as Rudi meets Yu (Aya Irizuki) who teaches him Butoh and the meaning of the dance. The last scene where Rudi dances in his wife's kimono facing Mount Fuji was the most moving part of the film. Like cherry blossoms that whither in so short a time, such too are the fleeting moments of life.


118 min.,CANADA/UK/USA, dir. Kari Skogland| Reviewer Ed Farolan

In the 1980s, the Irish civil conflict was at its peak, and there was a need to infiltrate the IRA. A 22-year-old, Martin McGartland (Jim Sturgess) from West Belfast, was recruited by the British police to spy on them. The title of the film refers to a statement made by his British handler, "Fergus" (Ben Kingsley) who said that there would be "50 dead men walking," men who would have been killed if it weren't for his undercover work. As the film progresses, we see him being successfully recruited as an IRA volunteer, and thus informs his handler of potential IRA bombings and assassinations which eventually were thwarted. However, he is found out, captured and tortured but manages to escape with the help of Fergus. There have been six assassination attempts on his life, including one in Canada, depicted in the opening scene of the film. He is still in hiding upto this day.

Kari Skogland who was present during the screening talked about how the actors were diligent in their research and went to Belfast two months before shooting in order to learn the Irish accent. She also said that she coould have shot the film in other locales, but Belfast was the only place to shoot as the energy of he city inspired the actors and the production. I was going to comment that she was quite gutsy to direct a movie of this genre--violence, torture, bombings, fights--the kind of film that men and not women would direct. But time was running out and they had to stop the Q/A session as there was another film waiting to be screened.



104 min.,GERMANY, dir. Lola Randl| Reviewer Ed Farolan

Critics have compared this film to Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris. In my opinion, there is no comparison at all. This film is far inferior to Bertolucci's classic. They say that a film, so long as it is not non-fiction, is purely imaginative. And that's what I thought about this productio, or at least, one scene where Sylvana Krappatsch as Agnes, a successful 40-ish scientist naps and wakes up to find a naked man--Bruno (André Jung)--snuggled up beside her. And they have sex?? Naturally, this doesn't happen in real life, but when you have a young, 28-year old female director fantasizing, anything can happen so long as it's film and it's fiction.

And what's more fantasy-like about the story is that they go on seeing each other and the man doesn't even know who the woman is. Only until after seeing and having sex a few times does Bruno finally ask who she is. How ridiculous can this be?

I don't know whether the filmmaker was playing along the concept of existential absurdity, or whether she was using her wild imaginings. I noticed the audience feeling a bit uneasy not only because of this particular situation, but the ending which left the story hanging in the air, as though one would expect a sequel to come sometime in a future film festival.




73 min.,CANADA/MEXICO, dir. Nicolás Pereda| Reviewer Ed Farolan

This low budget DV feature is a film from a graduate of Toronto’s York University film department. I don´t know what they teach at York, but from watching this film, I don´t think the instructors there are competent enough. In another film I reviewed for this year´s VIFF, Erik Nietzsche: Early Years , it showed how incompetent the film school teachers were at the school where Eric studied. How could you hold a camera shot for so long a time at an actor scratching his feet, or lying down on his bed, waiting for him to sneeze before going on to the next scene? In two instances, the filmmaker takes shots from the back of the actors as they walked to the market and again to the Central Bus Station. These sequences were so dizzying. The director was holding the camera all throughout and didn't have a steady hand. Although the film was just over an hour long, I found it extremely boring.


© 2008 Ed Farolan

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