Is There Such A Thing As Utopia?

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Utopia -Martine Malalai Zikria (3)

Utopia- Arun Bali (1)

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In 2015, Director Hassan Nazer and writer Amir Aghee gave birth to a sophisticated, well-written tale that I can describe best as haunting; or as Der Spiegel puts it, “An elegant and thrilling journey between two very different worlds”. Afghan drama film Utopia is a tragic tale of a woman whose pursuit of happiness is infected from start to end and leaves the question of whether Utopia exists or not, open to the audience.

The film’s portrayal of social realism during a fragile period, post-war in Afghanistan, is one of praise, bringing the experience of tragedy and heartache to the forefront. Utopia deals with the nature of migration: what it means to be an immigrant and how it feels, which the film’s protagonist, Janan, embodies. Director Nazer aimed to express just how courageous it is to be an immigrant and the difficulties that may come with that, which are issues that remain widely relatable till today. On the back of this, the film also tackling different cultural, religious and moral complications around the issue of artificial insemination and human liberty, making it a must-see during such a progressive day and age.

The narrative of Utopia is made up of three intersecting stories of loneliness and isolationthat seamlessly weave together the very different lives of characters based in Afghanistan, India and Scotland. The film plunges you into states of both hope and hopelessness, as you route for the protagonist, Janan’s, happiness; a woman from Afghanistan who travels to the UK for artificial insemination. After William, a medical sciences student working at a clinic that Janan is registered at, switches the donor’s semen for his own, Janan’s courageous decision to bear a child takes a complicated turn. What she is left with is the painful truth of what William has done and the added pain of finding out that the unintended father of her child comes from a family with a long-standing connection to the very forces that have served in wars in her homeland. What happens following these revelations is dark and heart-rending.

Utopia’s ability to stir its audience proves just how compelling the combined works of Nazer and Aghee are in creating a milestone tale. But with all the suffering and pain the character’s face, all the emotional turbulence we witness in the film, with all hope feeling lost, the question still stands: Is there such a thing as Utopia?

Gaining high praise, Utopia won Best Film and Best Director at the Triangle Film Festival,the Golden Camera award at the Nashik Film Festival and the Best Feature Film at the Toronto film and video awards. The success of the film alone speaks volumes so make sure you bring along friends and family to Regents Street Cinema on March 11th 2017, 5:00pm -7:00pm to witness a powerful, thought-provoking story unravel before your very own eyes! Book by clicking here.

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By LAFF2017 Blogger Rim Karama ~

Rim Karama is a 3rd year English and Film Studies student from Queen Mary University, published author, poet and film enthusiast.

 

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Utopia Final Poster

A Death in the Gunj – Family, Relationships, Conflicts And Murder

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Actor turned director Konkana Sen Sharma’s feature debut A Death in the Gunj masterfully weaves together a powerful mix of elements of family, neglect and mental health to construct an atmospheric thriller that keeps you guessing till the very end.

Set in the late 1970’s, A Death in the Gunj takes the viewer away from the routine big-city life to a colonial Anglo-Indian settlement, McCluskieganj in the state of Jharkhand, India. An extended family with cousins, aunts and uncles is on vacation. At the centre of this tale is Shutu (Vikrant Massey), a quiet young boy, struggling to come to terms with his father’s death, who is unable to meet the expectations of his family and society.

Sharma extracts intricately fine performance from her ensemble cast including Om Puri, Tanuja Mukherjee, Vikrant Massey, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey, Tillotama Shome, Jim Sarbh and Gulshan Devaiya.

There is an engaging drama of marital tensions, affairs and arguments. But there is much more to come, an unexplained dead body, a missing child and an unexpected implosion of violence. The retro ambience invites you to immerse in the experience of family fun, fear, frustrations, love, hate and death. See you at the screening on 17 March at Watermans Cinema. Click here for more details. Don’t forget LAFF 2017 and director Gurinder Chadha will be paying tribute to Om Puri at the Closing Gala, don’t miss out book your tickets here!

 

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By LAFF 2017 Blogger Sagar Chhatwani

After working at The Times of India & The Hindustan Times, Sagar quit the corporate life to pursue his interest in cinema. He is currently studying an MA in films at Westminster University.

 

 

Rahm: A Cultural Twist On Shakespeare

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“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall” – Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

Directed by Ahmed A. Jamal and written and produced by Mahmood Jamal, Rahm (Mercy) is a Pakistani drama-thriller film that has Shakespeare written all over it. Identities are swapped, lies and deceit manifest, power becomes the source of disorder and new truths are revealed. It’s no surprise then that Rahm is an adaption of the playwrights Measure for Measure is an incredible tale filled with all the ingredients that make Shakespeare’s plays so captivating and relevant today.

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Rahm’s film plot revolves around a Governor (Sajid Hasan) who goes into hiding after appointing a puritanical and corrupt deputy, Qazi Ahad (Sunil Shanker) in his place. Following this event, a virtuous woman, Sameena (Sanam Saeed) discovers that her brother is to be executed for fornication under the deputy’s demand. The ultimate tragedy is that she has to choose between maintaining her honour or saving her brother’s life by succumbing to Qazi’s immoral desires.

Credit must be given to Ahmed A. Jamal and Mahmood Jamal for staying true to the origins of the play by following the Measure for Measure plot. The characters in both face parallel trials following the enforcement of tyrannical laws by a deceptive ruler and the themes of justice, morality and religion are tackled throughout. The change in Rahm’s social and cultural setting gives the tale a particularly unique flair that makes it freshly original despite its Shakespearean template. Parallels between the Pakistani, Islamic society in the city of Lahore and Elizabethan England adds that extra bit of depth to the concept of the film that viewers are bound to appreciate. Mahmood Jamal states that when Shakespeare wrote Measure for Measure, the historical situation in England was similar to that of the contemporary Muslim world, making the transition from Shakespeare’s England to Muslim Lahore almost seamless which I can’t deny.

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Rahm is a plea fortolerance from Muslims who are struggling to defend themselves against the injustice of extreme Islamists, which makes this film particularly relevant in today’s world. Maintaining faith in God’s plan and not bargaining this for anything is vital in Rahm, no matter the consequence; and who better to demonstrate this level of high virtue and morality than the strong-willed heroine Sameena who is not only a strong Pakistani woman (which is already a great start) but also an example of strong, religious woman who does not succumb to desire and sin thrust upon her despite Qazi’s demand.

Rahm is a highly-praised film with so much to offer that it just can’t be missed! So come and witness this captivating, drama-filled adaption of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure with a clever, south Asian cultural twist, at Regent Street Cinema on Tuesday 14th March 2017, 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM. You definitely won’t regret it!

 

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By LAFF2017 Blogger Rim Karama ~

Rim Karama is a 3rd year English and Film Studies student from Queen Mary University, published author, poet and film enthusiast.

You Are My Sunday: An Urban Tale of Hope and Friendship

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Written and directed by debutant Milind Dhaimade, You Are My Sunday narrates the story of fiveEQ2C4898 friends who meet every Sunday at Juhu beach (Mumbai) to play football. Their weekly ritual is disrupted when they invite an old stranger to join them leading to a disastrous incident resulting in them being banned from the beach. The aftermath takes them on a personal and professional journey as they struggle to find a new place to play in the crowded city of Mumbai.

TheSUNDAY3 director shows the modern life of an urban city of Mumbai through the eyes of five young Indian middle-class boys. Deeply rooted in the cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai, Dhaimade pays homage to the metropolis by capturing the essence of the city through visual imagery of the crowded streets and the hustle bustle of urban daily life. The five characters, immaculately performed by Indian television and theatre actors including Barun Sobti of romantic drama Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon fame, invite the audience in their personal space and succeed in making the viewers care for them.

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The film premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival
2016 and BFI London Film Festival 2016, is an important film addressing friendship between different religious communities, the importance of personal space, inter-faith relationships and intolerance, care of the elderly and attitude towards disability.

Come and witness the trial and tribulations of friendship at the screening of You Are My Sunday at the Watermans Cinema on Sunday 12th March a part of the 19th London Asian Film Festival.

By LAFF2017 Blogger Sagar Chhatwani

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After working at The Times of India & The Hindustan Times, Sagar quit the corporate life to pursue his interest in cinema. He is currently studying an MA in films at Westminster University.

 

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