IFFLA: In Search of Identity

IFFLAThis blog is a long time in the writing…

More than a week ago, I attended the Indian Film Festival of India, Los Angeles. And when I say attended, I mean really attended it. I watched a majority of the films and spoke to every film enthusiast within my vicinity. I lived the festival to it’s fullest and as it often is, when you’re truly living in the moment, documentation of the events become last priority (unless you’re blessed with an assistant of course). Hence, the late, late blog.

But, it was a very awesome experience. I made some interesting observations. I’d like to share them with you of course!

Independent movies have a tendency to ‘observe’ and ‘document’. This was very obvious in this festival’s line-up. So no George Lucas style drama here folks. The films were minimalistic and lacked varnish. They were created with ‘real’ people. They were subtext heavy. Dialogues were intricately carved (and sometimes non-existent). Every element (locations, music etc.) worked in sync to create an experience that was true to the character’s experience in his or her journey.

The films were always character centric. Always. The story and the hero’s journey was all that mattered. As it should.

Reality was the operating word.

It can get heavy, of course, but it’s like reading a good book or observing a masterful painting or eating a gourmet meal. The information provided is rich and layered to perfection. And like any superior meal, it’s served with the hope of enabling deep conversations and relationships.

There was a common thread to most of the work I saw. It was a search for identities. It was a search for the identity of today’s India and today’s Indian. It was a search for India’s global identity. It was a search for where our ‘self’ ends and where our environment begins. It was search for the evolution of the identity with which we live our lives (and some die protecting).

Questions, question everywhere and not an answer in sight!

All the questions made me question as well… How does a storyteller distinguish between which story they want to tell versus which story should be told?

The film maker (or storyteller) bears the weight of their message. They bear the weight of their vision. And this is a great time for me to salute the art and craft of film making. I believe it’s a wonderful burden to bear. A burden that creates identities in real life. We, after all, are the culmination of the stories we imbibed.

I would recommend the festival experience to anyone who has the access to one. It’s an enriching experience to say the least. 🙂

❤ Stories ❤ Film ❤ IFFLA

Shilpa

NOTE: I am resisting the urge to talk about my favorite movies: Gangs of Wasseypur (1&2), The Ship of Theseus, Peddlers, Unravel, Ika and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I will refrain because I wouldn’t do justice to them so late in my reflection. Of course, if someone wants to discuss them I will be glad to have a movie talk!

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