This weekend marks the beginning of a new film series from 3rd I Films that will tour in certain cities across the U.S. Cruel Cinema: New Directions in Tamil Film opens today at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California (1/30-2/19), and will “travel on to the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, DC and BAMcinematek in Brooklyn, NY among other venues” according to 3rd I. The series provides an introduction to four new wave Tamil films from the latter half of the 2000s.
The program notes (quoted below) by Lalitha Gopalan and Anuj Vaidya definitely piqued my interest, and so did clips from the featured films, sometimes because and sometimes in spite of the cruelty portrayed. If you caught the wave earlier and saw any of these films, what did you think?
This new wave is infused with cinephilia. Visual quotations from Tamil films punctuate the narratives: protagonists watch films on television and wander into movie theaters, fights break out in movie theaters and projection booths. Yet, these films are at a startling remove from the star antics and high-gloss productions characteristic of both mainstream Tamil cinema and the more pervasive Bombay cinema. Entire new mise-en-scÃ¨nes open up onscreen: butcher shops, pigsties, teashops, alleyways; freaks and misfits are the protagonists of these films. The intimate cruelty of family and the tortured narratives of heightened caste and class antagonisms form their narrative backbone. Clearly, this is not fare for a family outing.
While it might not be fare for a family outing, maybe some of this new wave fare would be suitable for a La Famiglia style outing? Puddhupettai, one of the films in the series, follows the blood-and-gore path of the main character from small-time criminal to gang lord.
Paruthiveeran, another of the featured films, sounds like a tortured, tragic tale of love in this review, though not without its lighthearted moment of romance between the two main characters. This could be of interest to those who can appreciate high-waisted lungis, beards and violence on the movie screen.
When: Sundays @ 2pm (Jan 30, Feb 6) and Saturdays @ 3pm (Feb 12 & Feb 19)
Where: Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94720
Tickets: $5.50 members; $6.50 UC Berkeley; $9.50 general
For details on the DC dates see the Freer and Sackler Galleries calendar.