Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Much Loved (2015)
The film has been produced with a fair amount of sensitivity and concern.
DIFF: Much Loved This is a carefully portrayed account of the life of a group of courtesans in Marrakesh, Morocco. This sort of life-style has a long history in Arab, Indian and other traditions. The film has been produced with a fair amount of sensitivity and concern. The social ostracism that the beautiful women and their families experience is starkly portrayed. They experience rejection, embarrassment and humiliation from parents, children and their lovers. It is all done with a surprising amount of panache and humour. Even lesbianism has a look in. As always, the customers do not come off looking too good. There are no gangster pimps in this scenario except for a taxi driver who transports the women. We are all aware that there are cops who prey on women of this kind. Morocco is not exempt from this sort of challenge. As with all foreign films of lands which do not usually feature in mainstream cinema, I found the Moroccan street scenes, the social environment, body language, customs and homes authentic and very interesting to analyse. As expected, the film is banned in Morocco but I found the film worth seeing. In the same way that unproven medication and fake doctors should be banned, illegal prostitution should not be allowed. I think that properly controlled (by the authorities) prostitution should be legal. That protects both the customers and those who wish to exist in this way. In this age of HIV/AIDS, Herpes and other devastating venereal diseases making prostitution illegal is illogical and irrational in my opinion.
This film focused mainly on the building of stadiums for the FIFA world cup in Brazil in 2014.
DIFF: The March of the white elephants Unfortunately I only managed to see this film on Sunday, 26 June, after the closing ceremony of DIFF. You would have to be made of stone if you were not affected by the way in which some governments abuse the revenue of their countries and flagrantly neglect their responsibilities, especially to the disadvantaged and the relatively powerless. This film focused mainly on the building of stadiums for the FIFA world cup in Brazil in 2014. Our Moses Mabhida stadium also gets a look-in. Dennis Brutus and Patrick Bond were among the local luminaries who commented on the debacle. The terrible Brazilian shack settlements and poor health facilities mirror the challenges in our own country. Our medical registrars often have to train in other provinces because our health sector is financially embarrassed. Vital drugs including certain antibiotics are not available at certain health facilities. Doctors are counselled to avoid doing X rays and even some of our MRI scan machines are often not in working order at our larger hospitals With Brazil about to host the Olympics while the Zika virus is threatening the health of people, it was good that DIFF decided to screen this important film. Schools which are able to do so, should offer this film to their learners. In our time films like 'The Sound of Music' made a great impression on us with its portrayal of how war mongers violate families that are trying to survive their every-day vicissitudes.
The Redfern Story (2014)
certain Aboriginal intellectuals responded in a manner similar to our response in South Africa
The Redfern Story: Durban International Film Festival Australia: Darlene Johnson: 2014
Redfern is where about 10 000 Australian Aboriginal people (many appear to have some infusion of European genes) came to live in Sydney. That number burgeoned. Depression, stress, low self-esteem, alcoholism, drug addiction and an increased incidence of suicide is the lot of many conquered, dispossessed and impoverished people. These problems also precipitate a great deal of internal friction and internecine feuding as well.
However in the 1970s, certain Aboriginal intellectuals responded in a manner similar to our response in South Africa during those terrible, humiliating racist times. They began a theatre movement. That reminded me of the theatre of TECON, Athol Fugard, Saira Essa, Welcome Msomi, Ketan Lakhani, Kessie Govender and Ronnie Govender etc. A number of pertinent points were made during the film. "Our literature says we exist." "Police harassment politicised us." "The police cells were called 'Abattoirs'. " There was a bookshop called THIRD WORLD BOOKS in Sydney. The white owner finally asked the Redfern people to please give him a list of books that they wanted. He would get them for the people! The Redfern people's lives mirrored so much that we experienced in South Africa. One lady spoke about how she tried to keep her children away from the rampant racism to which they were exposed. As the police and Australian society as a whole, had criminalised their very skins, the indigenous people resorted to 'spying on the police'. They would record what the police were doing to their community. Volunteer lawyers helped them as they did in South Africa during Apartheid. But of course we all had to jump up and down in the cauldron of racist laws designed by racist lawyers to keep the conquered shackled. The indigenous also set up Aboriginal medical and legal services. A satirical cartoon about a ship loads of white conquerors and their families flooding into Oz certainly drew a few knowing nods: "We need a more restrictive immigration policy," was the caption. In one of my short stories, 'The Guests', I wrote about there being no 'Mighty Mouse' to help us when the Neo Nazis terrorised us. In the Aussie film a character called SUPER BONG is depicted. When he tries to change into his super-hero uniform in a hotel, he is not allowed in! Bobby Merritt wrote a script while in jail! The theatre people had to collect revisions etc from the prison! One of the scripts depicts a person called, 'Sergeant Burn Blacks.' Sadly, most documentaries are not screened at your usual cinemas. So the millions who would empathise with this film will never see it. : ( There is a great need for an independent cinema that can screen documentaries and other films that are not palatable to those who love Apartheid, our humiliation and racism.
Le tout nouveau testament (2015)
this is a delightful, rather human depiction of a 'God' who plays on the computer with people's lives.
Brand New Testament: Durban International Film Festival Belgium: 2015 Review by Dr Deena Padayachee
I think that most of us have wondered about the All Mighty (plural?) that plays with our lives and creates havoc everywhere. I've often thought about those brilliant Germans who created such gorgeous classical music, who tend to be so organised and are so efficient and manufacture such exceptional machinery, yet allowed a Hitler to rule them and eviscerate them.
Anyway, this is a delightful, rather human depiction of a 'God' who plays on the computer with people's lives. It is this 'God' that ensures that the phone rings when we are in the shower, that the jam bread tends to fall on the jam side on the floor and so on. :) 'God' is middle aged, has a mouse of a wife, (who is for ever vacuuming), and a little spunky daughter, Ea, who, in true earthling fashion, questions everything. 'God' is a rather grouchy old man who bullies his family and even beats the daughter. 'JC' is the the girl's brother. We all know about his fate. Ea lets the the people of the planet know of their time of demise - via sms, nogaal! Most of the people depicted are white. Imagine exiting this divine abode via a washing machine! 'God' actually gets hungry, and gets ill, eating from rubbish bins! Ea sabotages the computer and escapes - and writes a new testament while recruiting a motley crew of six apostles. They include an abandoned house wife, a sex maniac, a serial killer, a beauty who has lost her arm and so on. There is much that happens in life that one should question, examine and even refute and sometimes lampoon. I am glad that there are human beings still willing to do so, and others who are not offended when some do so.
Song of Lahore (2015)
This unusual and beautiful documentary is like a work of poetry.
Song of Lahore
Indians and music go together like curry and roti. Unfortunately, music has been officially suppressed in some countries across our world. Lahore was once the jewel of the Punjab and the Sikh empire. The Sikhs had resisted the ferocious, rapacious, plundering Mughal hordes who had swept across much of India with fire and sword.
Izzat Majeed and his comrades established Sachal studios in a brave effort to resurrect the region's traditional musical roots. This unusual and beautiful documentary is like a work of poetry. It brings together the jazz of the USA and the sitar of India. In that meeting there is a great ejaculation of audible magic and iridescence.
The film documents how these musicians get together to develop their talent and how they liaise with overseas musicians. During the fascist era, anti Apartheid writers were the targets of the Neo Nazi establishment and their 007s. Co- incidentally, my first prize winning literary work was also published in New York after being turned down by South African publishers. The architecture and ambiance of Lahore contrast quite starkly with the buzz of the 9/11 city.
The tragic thing about this documentary is that not many will get to see it as those who appreciate this kind of cinema are not well organised.
Shadow World (2016)
It details the close links between giant arms manufacturers and governments.
Seen at the Durban International Film Festival: Shadow World
Director: Johan Grimonprez
Shadow World is based upon the 2011 book by South African, Andrew Feinstein, 'The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade'. Andrew Feinstein is a South African now living in London who was an ANC MP. He was revolted by the shenanigans of the South African arms deal and finally resigned from the ANC. He wrote a book about the trauma he and our country experienced during that era in his book, 'After the Party'.
This is yet another must-see gem that many will appreciate. It details the close links between giant arms manufacturers and governments. Huge revenues are acquired, often from very poor nations who lose the plot. They focus on arming themselves instead of emphasising health, education, crime prevention, the police, civil servant salaries and housing among other priorities. They are the authors of their own civil unrest and destabilisation. That plays right into the hands of the wealthy countries of the world, many of which had conquered most of the planet in the last few hundred years - and still dominate it.
Mega bribes are all part of the package with this 'trade'. The film focused on the Saudis. South Africa also came in for its share of the opprobrium. Telling commentary from intellectuals and others illuminates the mind. Eduardo Galeano says that he was told, 'Lying sucks, and getting used to lying sucks, but worse than lying is teaching to lie.' We are introduced to the minds of great authors like Jeremy Scahill and Vijay Prashad as well. Here are some fascinating comments from the film: 'The US has privatised the ultimate public function, War.' An arms dealer called Riccardo made the point that 'munitions have a sell by date.' Yes, I wrote, munitions are expensive. They need wars. They need human flesh, human misery. We all live in a cloud of various degrees of mendacity and truth. Lies make people speak and behave stupidly. May we be part of the process that disseminates the truth.
The black-listing of humanity's best
Like most people, I had never heard of Dalton Trumbo. However, many of us have seen films like Spartacus, Exodus and Thirty seconds over Tokyo.
The film dramatically depicts what can happen to writers who decide to be true to their country and to their souls but then run foul of those whom the masses have elected to control their country. In the time of Trump, this is more than a salutary caution for the USA. When the unconscious masses are shackled intellectually and have their minds replaced with dogma and doctrine, they will shackle genius and they will undermine their own lives.
There are many parallels with what happened to the intelligentsia of our own country during Apartheid and in the neo Apartheid era. Many of our greatest leaders were terrorised by the full might of an unfettered, undemocratic state. They included Ismail Meer, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and Moses Kotane who were members of the communist party in the 1940s. So was Trumbo, a person of Swiss ancestry who felt that the Party had the concerns of the working people at heart.
Like some communists, Trumbo had a upper middle class life-style; he and his family lived on a country estate which boasted both a lake and a farm with horses. His group was supported by the actor Edward G Robinson who sold his Van Gogh so that he could support the 'communists' who were being hounded by the state.
Trumbo had one huge plus working in his favour. He had a family which, while it sometimes rebelled against the gigantic demands that he placed upon them, was loyal and believed in what he was doing. They lost their home thanks to ruinous lawyers' fees, but still they stuck together and gave their all for the cause of America.
"The chief internal enemies of any state are those public officials who betray the trust imposed upon them by the people." - Dalton Trumbo
Seeing true, patriotic sons of the soil being tormented and persecuted in this way really rankled for me. But that is quintessentially the story of mankind and, I am afraid, of America.
Criminal states tend to criminalise those who fight for human rights. Trumbo and his group refused to testify before a congressional committee and were found guilty of contempt, He served almost a year in prison as a result.
Trumbo was a dedicated and a very driven writer. That's what he did, virtually all the time. At times he wrote in a half-full bath-tub with a shelf which held up a type-writer. He must have loved cold water. He and his friends were black-listed by the govt and its agencies who put unbearable pressure on the heads of the movie studios. Being forced to oppose the will of the state puts ordinary, decent folk in a very precarious and awful position.
Forced to write and edit 'B' class movie scripts, Trumbo would not leave his bathroom 'desk' even for his daughter's birthday party. He worked to support his family, to keep a roof over their heads, and to keep his sanity. But he seldom eschewed a smoke or the booze. He and his nine friends had been designated 'enemies of the state' and they experienced hell for who they were and what they did.
In 1957 his screenplay for The Brave Onewritten under the pseudonym Robert Richreceived an Academy Award. But nobody could find Robert Rich.
Trumbo's nemesis was a Los Angeles Times columnist, Hedda Hopper, played with relish by a caustic, Nazi-like Helen Mirren. Hopper was the the darling of the wealthy, capitalist establishment; she exulted in bullying everybody from billionaire studio heads to gifted actors and brilliant writers to get them to toe the govt line. She had the power of the state and all its security services supporting her so she 'officially' ruined many a writer in ways we see being perpetrated even today.
This film gives one significant insight into the life of John Wayne It also sees Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger come out in support of the heroic Trumbo. This helped to end Trumbo and his comrades' black-listing. They were able to put their names to the great work that they had done.
Then there is a magical scene where JFK goes to a cinema to see Spartacus - and is interviewed when he does so. That under-wrote the final shattering of the shackles of the great writers whose lives had been eviscerated by the fascists.
This fascinating film will keep you enthralled with its edge-of-the seat entertainment, its incisive insights, its depiction of flesh- and-blood, fragile human beings willing to take on the American colossus in Vietnamese style; it is a tale of the great and gruelling hell that some of America's greatest talent was forced to endure because of a fearful capitalist class.
Trumbo's life work helped move humanity in a more civilised direction. He died of lung cancer in the year of Soweto. However one can argue that the paranoia and the mindless aggression that drove the US to destroy its greatest, most caring citizens was similar to the kind of paranoia that got them to impose sanctions on Cuba and invade Vietnam.
This film was an eye-opener in so many respects.
This film was an eye-opener in so many respects.
I am eternally grateful that I speak English and that some 'English' customs are a part of the way in which I savour my life. I think most of us try not to be caricatures of the surviving arrogant, racist herrenvolk who still try to behave as if they occupy the moral high ground, as if they are 'superior' to the rest of us and think that only their way of doing things is the 'correct' way.
Understandably, the British have tried to hide much of their history from the gaze of their own people as well as those whom they had conquered. They still influence, and to an extent control, via our esteemed senior pedagogues, the kind of curricula that our children study and that which appears in our newspapers and on TV.
Some of us exist in a cloud of mendacity: we have erroneous notions about the British, the 'Free West' and especially about ourselves, our conquered selves.
In 1912 the British were beating up a great many people in various parts of their empire (where they had imposed their laws which enabled, among other things, the extraction of the wealth of the conquered territories) as far afield as Iraq, Egypt and India and as close as Ireland.
What many of us did not know was that some of the British also 'officially' beat up some of their own women folk when these valiant citizens rallied to get the right to vote.
The film is set in 1912 when the upright British kept all their women folk (Even though they had a Queen as their sovereign for most of the 19th century) legally disenfranchised. They imposed this restriction upon some of their males as well. I think that it is wrong to give away the plot of a film - I will only give you impressions. I think that this film is well worth seeing. Most of the subject matter would not have been covered in the 12 years of schooling of even our post Apartheid institutions.
We see this era through the eyes of a naive, ignorant, young washer- woman who, (in a manner which was similar to the way in which we were conscientised by Apartheid) is gradually made aware that much of the way in which females were being treated was utterly immoral, unethical and wrong.
In the manner of Orwell's '1984', the movie is done in dark and sombre colours which depict a dank and shabby working-class England at a time when the British were the wealthiest people in the world. However the British empire had many unethical laws which violated the human rights of their own ladies.
I was amazed to see, in the heart of the British empire, shop windows being deliberately broken by the Suffragettes, post boxes being blown up, telegraph cables being cut and Lloyd George's summer mansion being destroyed. George was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British government at the time. He became Prime Minister in 1916.
The police and their spy agencies were shown doing everything in their power to break the movement. These clever fiends tried to find weak links in the Suffragette movement and recruit them as informers. The government also tried to get the newspapers not to publicise the struggle. Up to a point, they were successful.
The 'total onslaught' response of the authorities to the civil resistance had a terrible effect on families, especially the innocent children. Many of the women lost their jobs, the males were coaxed to 'rein in' their women - and, if the women were not compliant, sometimes families broke up. Back then, the men often got custody of the children. One man actually gave away his child for adoption once he was separated from his wife. Women who rose up against disenfranchisement were thought by many to be 'not right in the head'.
The very harsh working conditions of that time, the endemic sexual harassment and the discriminatory salaries which were the norm, are all in your face in this stark story about the war against state terror; a war against one of the strongest empires in the world. In some ways, the resistance of the women reminded me of the heroic, diminutive, delicate, Vietnamese and their valiant resistance against the American invaders.
During the tortuous era of resistance against the vicious Apartheid decrees, some of our lawyers played a crucial role. In this film, not a single lawyer is seen helping the resistors.
A Suffragette was shown at the Epsom Derby being knocked down by the King's horse, Anmer. She was Emily Wilding Davison. The Empire could no longer conceal its sinful laws from the world. Perhaps the film should have interwoven a tale of an enfranchised jockey who had his life in front of him, and a troubled, angry, young woman who chose to put her life in the way of the imperial juggernaut.
The work concludes with a historical note about when the women were legally able to vote in various countries. New Zealand led the world in 1893. All German males were enfranchised when they marched to war in 1914. Universal British male suffrage was a reality only after World War I. British women were able to vote in 1928. In 1944 the French females followed. I could not help thinking of the lady who holds up the flame of freedom: the statue of liberty which was sent to New York by the French!
The credits state that Indian women were enfranchised in 1947. But that important advance was not contextualised. That is upsetting. Indian women could vote only once their country was liberated from the British and India became a democratic republic.
In its essence, this film is about love and respect.
WASIR The title translates to 'Queen' A review by Dr Deena Padayachee.
Everything about this film is superb from the intelligently worked out script to the dialogue to the sensitive acting to the music to the editing and the carefully crafted scenes. The movie begins with a brief love story. An angelic woman with a stunning smile and a handsome man are introduced. And a child is born. I do not think that it is ethical to give the rest of the plot away. With a film like this one, it would spoil a marvellous movie for its audience.
However one of the lines from a song which will remain with me is when the man says,
'his heart does not beat because of his heart; it beats because of her.'
In its essence, this film is about love and respect. Especially the love and respect many men may have for their families and friends, and how that love, which can be so deep and all consuming, may consume and, indeed, devour them.
Amitabh Bachchan personifies sheer genius as always. I mentioned to my friends that in North Indian cinema I am not aware of another actor anywhere close to his calibre. The intensity and skill that he brings to a character has one savouring the privilege of watching him. Bachchan plays a legless chess maestro who teaches chess; whose life is all about chess. This is an exciting film about how life can be like a game of chess, and how some hapless people can be pawns manipulated by master tacticians and others can be ruthless castles, directed to devastate.
"Bishops never come at you directly." That was a telling line from the film.
The film is about patriotism; the patriotism that Muslims can feel for India. It is also about great duplicity and about the gullibility of the multitude who fall for appearance, largesse and words. The villain is played by Manav Kaul who bears an amazing resemblance to Omar Sharif.
This is easily one of the best films that I have seen for over a year. It is right up there with Veer Zara, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Cheeni Kum I am so grateful that I saw this master-piece.
This outstanding film is about how doing the right thing, even as a medical doctor, can get the doctor into all sorts of very serious trouble.
This outstanding film is about how doing the right thing, even as a medical doctor, can get the doctor into all sorts of very serious trouble.
In a normal African country, news about this kind of film about a heroic African doctor would be shouted from the roof-tops. The publicity from the mega movie distribution houses, cinema chains and media would be in your face all the time.
However, Dr Omalu was made to feel like a criminal. The doctor had crossed the line and cared more than he was supposed to.
A public service Pittsburgh pathologist with many medical degrees, Dr Bennet Omalu, dared to expose the cerebral damage that was being suffered by American football players when they head-butted and engaged in other dangerous activities in the course of participating in their aggressive sport.
The trauma is often intra-cerebral and is not detectable with CAT scans. Doctors at that time were mystified by the bizarre behaviour, memory loss, headaches, depression and sometimes violent, irresponsible acts of these former professional sports stars when they reached their forties and fifties. Macroscopic examination revealed virtually nothing to the pathologist.
The quietly spoken, dignified and professional Dr Omalu is very thorough and meticulous; an 'alien' Ibo from Nigeria, the Black African doctor was always under the microscope. His ability and findings would always be unashamedly questioned and doubted; he would always have to try much harder to have his work and himself accepted. Disgrace and deportation is but a hair's breath away for many such professionals who are non white immigrants doing very difficult work in a 'white' country. He worked in the state sector; his working methods upset some of his colleagues as his professional output would be less.
Omalu has great respect for the deceased and he wanted to know about the kind of lives that they had led before they ended up on the mortician's table. Having that kind of attitude meant that he would question why young football players would behave as they did before they died prematurely, and why some even committed suicide. Dr Omalu decided to do histopathological slides of the brains of the athletes - at his own expense with money from his savings. The Public Service would not allow such expensive procedures being undertaken on the presumption that there might be pathology detectable in a brain. That's when he saw the intra-cerebral bleeding and other damage that led to the premature deaths of revered, national sporting heroes.
Sadly, many whites and even other doctors had a problem with addressing Dr Omalu by his professional name in a professional environment. We see too much of that in South Africa as well. These privileged Americans saw that he qualified in Africa. How could he be a 'real' doctor?
The doctor responded by studying almost continuously; he would not even switch on his TV and, for a long time, he did not marry; he accumulated a vast array of impressive medical and other qualifications. But of course, that meant nothing to antipathetic racists. One reviewer of CONCUSSION even called Omalu's achievements 'comical'. Despite all this opprobrium and lack of understanding, Dr Omalu was prepared to go out to bat, with an extraordinary zeal, for the people of his adopted country.
This foreign graduate had to convince the American establishment that his findings were accurate. His article was published in a medical journal, finally, but this was just one case. Many more athletes had to die in similar circumstances before the American public could be alerted. The NFL behemoth fought our modern day Don Quixote all the way, tooth and nail.
Opposing a wealthy, all powerful establishment which is abrogating its responsibility, is nothing to be undertaken lightly.
The ogres in power have access to all manner of resources including the wherewithal to undermine (sometimes via the media and biased, traitorous, embedded journalists) the doctor's reputation, his career, his family life, threaten his home and make a social pariah of the doctor even among his colleagues; they are happy to use gangsters to harass the doctor and his family and generally make his life and the lives of those he loves an absolute, living hell.
Being a medical doctor is stressful enough. Acting on behalf of the public is far too dangerous. When the doctor is not even an American citizen, and is courting deportation because of his ethical deeds, then one can see how brave and honourable this Ibo doctor was.
Dr Omalu naively thought that the NFL would welcome his discovery of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and that they would try to make the game safer.
From threatening phone calls to being undermined at work to having his family life disrupted, Dr Omalu knew it all, but still he persevered. His greater allegiance was, in the manner of a Dennis Brutus, to an unknowing and anonymous public; their well-being and welfare was being undermined by a greedy, rat-like cabal who tried, like the cigarette manufacturers, to keep the people ignorant.
FBI agents raided the office of Omalu's boss, and questioned that doctor's use of stationery and even his use of the fax machine! hey also threatened Omalu. The pressure was unremitting.
The NFL held a conference to examine Omalu's claims but would not allow Omalu to present his findings. Instead a white doctor (played by Baldwin), (who had joined Omalu in his fight against the NFL) who had been a Football Team doctor, was called in to testify. Omalu's claims were dismissed as injuries caused by 'other factors' like 'diving into water' etc. Eventually, Dr Omalu and his family relocated to a job in California.
After many years, the US dept of health invited Dr Omalu to take a prominent position with them. He declined the offer.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film.