Friday, September 25:
6:00 PM: Pather Panchali [Saga of the Road] (Satyajit Ray, 1955) 115 min. Bengali/English subtitles.
The opening entry of Satyajit Ray's extraordinary Apu trilogy, adapted from the epic novel of Bengali writer B.B. Bandopaddhyay, is a fiercely naturalistic, devastating portrait of poverty and despair. Ray uses his considerable storytelling powers of detail, incident and observation to interpret the relationship of a young Bengali boy and his family. The film has an emotional rhythm and a fluid, precise lyricism. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film festival. Music composed and performed by sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
8:00 PM: Aar-Paar [This Side or That] (Guru Dutt, India, 1954) 131 min. Hindi/English subtitles.
Crime film elements, melodrama and the expected musical numbers are all worked seamlessly into this feature, one of the key films in the short but influential career of Guru Dutt. Dutt directs and stars in this story of a taxi driver who is fired from his job and becomes involved with a planned bank robbery. "Within its conventional framework of a light-hearted, entertaining film, Aar Paar was different...it brought with it a whiff of rebellion, a cheeky assertion of the existence of the post-independence worker, with different aspirations and the aggressive self-confidence of a new generation."
Swan 304 (Screening Room):
6:00 PM: Mother India (Mehboob Khan, 1957) 172 min. Hindi/English subtitles.
From India, the cradle of the Gods, comes this epic drama of an Indian mother, the nucleus round which revolves the tradition and culture of the ages in this ancient land. To this eternal Indian woman, the home is her temple, the husband her god, the children his blessings and the land her great mother. This is a story of one such Indian woman, a supreme symbol of millions of mothers that make this ancient land Mother India. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
Saturday, September 26:
1:00 PM: The River (Jean Renoir, France/India/US, 1950) 99 min. In English.
Directed by Jean Renoir, son of famous painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Set in the era of British colonialism, this is a film which Jacques Rivette calls "the only example of a film vigorously reflecting itself (turned upon itself), and in which the narrative structure, the metaphysical themes and the sociological descriptions not only answer one another but are in every way interchangeable." Famed Indian director Satyajit Ray assisted in this film, and met Subrata Mitra, Ray’s cinematographer, during the production of “The River”.
3:00 PM: Ankur [The Seedling] (Shyam Benegal, India, 1974) 125 min. Hindi/English subtitles.
A college student must give up his studies to tend to the family estate and is forced into an arranged marriage. Attracted to his maid, he draws her into an affair after her husband is driven from the village, promising to look after her, but setting in motion a series of tragic events. "...The film focuses on power and privilege, not in the standard hero-villain and black and white terms, but with careful thought and acute perception...Benegal's direction shows a sure, subtle control."
Swan 304 (Screening Room):
1:00 PM: Meghe Dhaka Tara [Cloud-Capped Star] (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960) 126 min. Bengali/English subtitles.
This dark melodrama about a refugee family's struggles for survival on the outskirts of Calcutta is a true classic of Indian film. It is also considered one of the finest films by Ritwik Ghatak, a director who, though not well known outside of India, is viewed by many critics as second only to Satyajit Ray in his importance to the national cinema. "...a searing piece of work, resonant and beautifully structured."
3:15PM: Junoon [The Obsession] (Shyam Benegal, 1978) 141 min. Hindi/English subtitles.
Shyam Benegal's haunting Hindi masterpiece is set in 1857, during India's First War of Independence. As soldiers of the East India Company mutiny against the British colonialists, a fanatical fighter leads a series of ruthless revolts. The affluent Javed (Shashi Kapoor) shares his brother-in-law's convictions, but not his violent methods. He decides to shelter three British sisters, and ends up falling deeply in love with one of them. “This is an overwhelmingly powerful film, a bittersweet, entirely futile love story set against a crucial period backdrop.”