Twice a year our English speaking snobbery surfaces in the garb of a connoisseur of world cinema (this “world” by and large encompasses Hollywood and British movies which people mistake to have been made in Hollywood). No points for guessing the names of these two occasions – the obvious Oscars, and the Oscar-minus – the BAFTA.
Inevitably most of us will be hunched over the double-paged spread in the tabloid of one’s choice, visually sucking every sartorial detail of the designer wear donned by celebrities in flawless make up, styles we will see our very own Bollywood actresses copying at the IIFA/Filmfare awards. Later, we will also clear our schedule to catch the recorded broadcast on television to watch an event whose outcome we are already aware of but watch it anyway cuz we don’t enoy unsophisticated boat shows with dance routines clumsily performed by unskilled actors (male and female) to a medley of songs from their own movies.
Ladies and gentlemen, the BAFTA has arrived, and while you are already feeling a misplaced sense of national pride by Dev Patel’s – a thoroughly British actor who has got nothing to do with India except an inherited ethnicity – win, here are the movies which you have probably never heard of before, because despite their credibility, they never released in our country.
No, not talking about La La Land.
1. I, Daniel Blake (Outstanding British film)
A 2016 British-French-German drama film directed by Ken Loach presents the ordeal of a 59 year old joiner (kind of carpenter) who struggles to receive the benefits of state welfare despite his failing health – all because he has been carelessly – an incorrectly – checked by an examiner to see if he fit the criteria for deserving healthcare. Not something we won’t relate to, given that our system is a far cry from efficiency.
2. Kubo and the Two Strings (Best animated film)
Why would distributors think animation films wouldn’t work in India?? Directed and co-produced by Travis Knight, this dark 3D fantasy action-adventure film shows why animation is not just for kids. Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, it has the voices of Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, and Matthew McConaughey. Kubo’s adventure is his quest to search for his father’s magical armour to defeat an army of evil spirits.
3. Son of Saul (Best film not in the English language)
This movie is a grim reminder of the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, (a horrific program under which a group of Jewish prisoners were tasked with the responsibility of assisting Nazis in the mass execution of their own people) The lead character seeks moral salvage by trying to retrieve the body of a boy from the flames whom he takes for his son, hoping to give him a proper burial.
4. Under the Shadow (Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer)
Not a year goes by without bollywood rolling out some sex-sprinkled horror movie, so we wonder why the an audience with an intense appetite for fear was deprived of the critically acclaimed horror film. Under the Shadow is a story set in the post- revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s. A mother is convinced a supernatural force within the building is attempting to possess her daughter Dorsa, and must confront these forces to save her daughter and herself.
5. Hacksaw Ridge (Editing)
When was the last time you watched a war movie that wasn’t about killing? Well you missed the fine opportunity to experience that on the big screen. So hop on to the small screen and look for Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge about Desmond T. Doss – the first conscientious objector to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service, and saving 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of WWII.