“This is my first time.”
“I don’t know what to expect.”
“What if I get bored?”
These were the words running constantly through my mind and mouth during the fortnight preceding my first film festival. I practiced and perfected a look of cold, intellectual indifference, to mask my nervousness! But more difficult to hide was my absurd, yet always present, fear of being left alone. What if I ended up alone, stuck inside a stuffy theatre, watching a “high-brow” movie, with absolutely no company? Little did I know then that when I walk out of the closing ceremony, I would be doing so in the company of a new, best friend, who, quote, don’t believe in the institution of best friends, unquote..!!
Like the good girl that I am, I did my homework thoroughly. I read the information available in print and on the Internet. I asked all the “IFFK veterans” available, and even some who were not available! But no advice on earth could have prepared me for my first film festival-the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala.
I watched my first film in company of the person, without who’s insistence, this work would not have been undertaken. I refer, of course, to Baiju Chandran sir, who handed out this assignment of writing the reviews. The first film that I watched was “18 Days” at Kalabhavan Theatre (my favourite theatre, by the way). The film was perfectly paced and weighted to suit my beginner’s taste.
Then came seven whirlwind days. I could only watch 20 films. There were several costly misses (no, I am not referring to my classmate’s bike that got stolen during IFFK!). I didn’t see “Shutter” or “Filmistaan” or “Sta. Nina” or “Pieta”. But the miss that I really regret is “Amour”. That is where I learned the costly lesson that you must keep your friends and your companions separate. I was half way through the movie when my “friend” insisted on leaving and since I am a pushover, I did. Oh, to have a spine! Friendship is a strange thing. Perfectly decent human beings make very bad friends. The most poisonous of the lot are often lovely friends.
The misses were costly, but the gains were priceless. I don’t know if I have a clear favourite movie. I have a bunch that qualifies. “Rose”, “When I Saw You”, “I.D” and “18 Days” seem to be the pick of the bunch for me. But I do have two clear favourite actors; Mahmoud Asfa as Tarek in When I Saw You and Anjali Patil as Selvi in With You, Without You. But the gains that I will treasure for life are two. One, a friend. I prefer them to be nameless, like the Unknown Citizen/Nirbhaya/Damini. The other is I. A person who has tasted freedom, liberty and equality, albeit for a short time. I love that person.
The moment I donned the tag, I understood what Harry Potter felt when he got the Invisibility Cloak. You became nameless, faceless, and formless. You became one among thousands. You were just another IFFK delegate. Not man, not woman, just a person. A person, who will not be stared at, questioned, ogled. This must be what men feel every single second of their life. This sense of being a person, not person and body (rapist bait)! And yet they whine about life. It made me want to borrow caveman ancestor’s club and clobbering a few guys I could name!
I loved the colours. I loved the ambience. I loved the movies. I loved the theatres. I loved the steps of Kairali. I loved the crowd. I loved those people who made all the difference to my viewing experience. But what I loved the most was the free person, I myself.
“We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sunBut the wine and the songs, like the seasons have all gone!”