18 Must-See Films at IFFI, Goa 2022
The 53rd edition of IFFI (International Film Festival of India) will open in Goa on 20th November 2022 in hybrid mode. With around 280 films from 79 countries that make movies, the fest will bring movie lovers to India’s oldest festival to date. The film festival will also be the home of 25 feature films, and 20 non-fiction films from within the county itself. This year, the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement award is to be given to Spanish film director Carlos Saura, with a couple of his films to see a screening too.
Additionally, IFFI Goa, 2022 will put France as the country in the ‘Spotlight’ section with a collective of about 8 films to be showcased under the Country Focus Package. 20th of November will mark the beginning of the fest with multiple screenings of director Dieter Berner’s Australian film, Alma and Oskar; while Polish master Krzysztof Zanussi’s Perfect Number will close the fest on 28th November, 2022.
Interestingly, the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) will present the ‘Indian Restored Classics’ section that will include screenings of Sohrab Modi (1957), Ramesh Maheshwary’s National Award-winning Punjabi film Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai (1969), K Vishwanath’s Telugu musical drama Sankarabharnam (1980 ) and like each year, the fest would be incomplete without screening Satyajit Ray classics. This year, the two Ray films that delegates will be able to see are Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) and Ganashatru (1989).
IFFI Goa’s 2022 retrospective section includes tributes to Pier Paolo Pasolini with the screening of his movies The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966), Oedipus Rex (1967), Pigsty (1969) & Jean Luc-Godard with the showcase of his films A Woman is a Woman (1961), Breathless (1960), Contempt (1963), Pierrot Le Fou (1965), Alphaville (1965), Goodbye to Language (2014). In addition to the tributes, the homage section will see screenings of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Ivan Teitman’s Ghostbusters (1984), Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces (1970), Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964).
Other than that, here are 20 movies from IFFI 2021 Goa that excite me the most:
1. World War III
Director : Houman Seyedi | Language: Persian | Runtime: 117 Minutes
Shakib is a homeless day laborer who never got over the loss of his wife and son in an earthquake years ago. Over the last couple of years, he has developed a relationship with a deaf and mute woman, Ladan. The construction site on which he works today turns out to be the set of a film about the atrocities committed by Hitler during WWII. Against all odds, he is given a movie role, a house, and a chance at being somebody. When Ladan learns about this, she comes to his workplace begging for help. Shakib’s scheme to hide her goes tragically wrong and threatens to ruin his newfound status and what seemed to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
In our review from this year’s Venice Film Festival, we said, “World War III” works as a story of the rise of an anarchist in a small fascistic regime. The film production evokes the feeling of a failed totalitarian regime, where the producers and the directors are seated atop their pedestals and choose which of their desired “underlings” they want to promote, with the caveat that they can push them back down at the drop of a hat if it suits their narrative. This is not even considering extenuating circumstances which don’t affect the people in charge beyond a minuscule amount. But as the movie ends, we see or hear the fall of this regime, in an implied and horrifying fashion. In an era of filmmaking where even ambiguous endings have become predictable, the choice to at least let the audience be cognizant of the finality of the story is an appreciable and impactful move.”
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2. The Whale
Director: Darren Aronofsky | Language: English | Runtime: 117 Minutes
A reclusive English teacher suffering from severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Brendan Fraser gives a career-defining performance in this arrestingly intimate drama from Darren Aronofsky. ‘The Whale’ invites us to identify with a man in a precarious state of isolation that has been exacerbated by a potentially lethal mix of technology and our culture of body shaming.
In his review, Dwight Brown said, “All eyes are on Fraser, who depicts Charlie as being full of self-pity and feeling defeated. Hard to take your eyes off the protagonist as you wonder if he will fall, die of a stroke or eat himself into oblivion. Only a few vital characters interact with him, floating in, out, and around a man stuck in the dingiest apartment, with Rob Simonsen’s ominous musical score intensifying drama that builds, builds, and builds until something crucial must happen. You’ll gaze dumbfounded at the screen for 1h 57m. Pulled into an emotional black hole that offers no easy exit. That’s an incredible, mind-numbing feat.
3. Triangle Of Sadness
Director: Ruben Östlund | Language: English | Runtime: 147 Minutes
Celebrity model couple, Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich, helmed by an unhinged boat captain (Woody Harrelson). What first appeared instagrammable ends catastrophically, leaving the survivors stranded on a desert island and fighting for survival.
In his review for Truthdig, film critic Siddhant Adlakha said, “The third Östlund satire to garner critical acclaim in recent years, “Triangle of Sadness” is the least cohesive of the bunch. “Force Majeure,” which won the 2014 Un Certain Regard jury prize at Cannes, was a blistering takedown of masculinity about a father accused of abandoning his family mid-avalanche. It walked a fine line between laughs and razor-sharp intensity. His follow-up was the 2017 Palme d’Or winning “The Square,” an investigation into free expression set against the high-class world of museum curation. Rather than following straightforward plots, both films are composed of loosely-strung vignettes orbiting a central theme. “Triangle of Sadness” exists, theoretically, in that same vein, and it won Östlund his second Palme at Cannes. “Triangle of Sadness” completes Östlund’s triptych about men and money, but with a looseness that feels like aloofness. It lacks the rigorous thematic throughlines of “Force Majeure” and “The Square,” with a third act that feels like a minor deflation, dialing down the film’s absurdities in favor of more literal and didactic extrications.”
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4. The Novelist’s Film
Director: Hong Sang-soo | Language: Korean | Runtime: 92 Minutes
A female novelist takes a trip to visit a bookstore, run by a younger colleague. Then she goes up a tower on her own and runs into a film director and his wife. They take a walk in a park and meet an actress, after which the novelist tries to convince the actress to make a film with her. She and the actress get something to eat, then revisit the bookstore where a group of people are drinking. The actress gets drunk and falls asleep.
In our review of Silver Bear Grand Jury winner at the Berlinale, we said, “The promise of a light, fulfilling drunken conversation in a Hong Sang-soo film is one of life’s little treats. And we’re not to be disheartened in The Novelist’s Film as it not only has Jun-hee indulging in a relaxing evening of drinking with her new actress friend; the gathering is enlivened with the presence of all the comforting characters, including her old poet friend. Taking the responsibility of writing, editing, directing, producing, and much more; Hong Sang-soo still manages to quite possibly outdo himself by trusting the faithful beauty of the uncomplicated.”
5. The Storyteller
Director: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan | Language: Hindi | Runtime: 117 Minutes
Tarini Ranjan Bandhopadhyay, a maverick storyteller, is notorious for not sticking to one job and has switched 32 jobs in his working career. Now at 60, retired in Kolkata and a widower, his only regret is that he could never find the time to give his late wife Anuradha the vacation she always desired. And now suddenly, out of a job, he has all the time in the world, but his near ones aren’t close to him.
In their coverage of the film. Variety says, “The Storyteller celebrates Satyajit Ray. Film enthusiast Tapobrati Das Sammaddar recommended Ray’s story “Golpo Boliye Tarini Khuro” to Mahadevan, who was “instantly fascinated by the layered social satire.” The story follows an unpublished Bengali storyteller who answers a help ad from a Gujarati businessman who suffers from insomnia, and there is a twist in the tale. Samaddar translated the story and Kireet Khurana (“T for Taj Mahal”) and Mahadevan developed it into a screenplay that was a faithful adaptation of the original. Mahadevan, who cites Ray’s “Charulata” and “Pather Panchali” as influences, says that the choice of film grammar was the tricky part of the shoot.”
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6. Saint Omer
Director: Alice Diop | Language: French | Runtime: 122 Minutes
Saint-Omer court of law. Young novelist Rama attends the trial of Laurence Coly, a young woman accused of killing her 15-month-old daughter by abandoning her to the rising tide on a beach in northern France. But as the trial continues, the words of the accused and witness testimonies will shake Rama’s convictions and call into question our own judgment. ‘Saint Omer’ is Diop’s fiction feature film debut.
In her review for Indiewire, Sophie Monks Kaufman says, “Saint Omer ” doesn’t so much dodge easy answers as reframe the focal point, so that although the film recognizes the injustice done to Baby Elise in its somber atmosphere, the gaze ends up fixed on the nature of motherhood. A visceral closing speech on the subject evokes bonds that transcend life and death for the relationship between mothers and their children lives in our bodies. With her first fiction feature, Diop lets real material speak with an ancient sadness, with hope offered in the form of Rama who keeps moving, carrying a burden of knowledge into the birth of a brave new life.”
7. Return to Seoul
Director: Davy Chou | Language: Korean, French | Runtime: 116 Minutes
On an impulse to reconnect with her origins, Freddie, 25, returns to South Korea for the first time, where she was born, before being adopted and raised in France. The headstrong young woman starts looking for her biological parents in a country she knows so little about, taking her life in new and unexpected directions.
In his review for Indiewire, David Ehrlich says, “Few movies have ever been more perfectly in tune with their protagonists than Davy Chou’s jagged, restless, and rivetingly unpredictable “Return to Seoul,” a shark-like adoption drama that its 25-year-old heroine wears like an extra layer of skin or sharp cartilage. The film spans eight years over the course of two hours, but you can feel its bristly texture and self-possessed violence from the disorienting first scenes.”
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Director: Anvitaa Dutt | Language: Hindi | Runtime: 120 Minutes
Set in the late 1930s and 40s, ‘Qala’ is the story of a young, eponymous playback singer. It is about her tragic past and the ways in which it catches up with her, causing her to unravel at the peak of her hard-won success.
With a planned release on 1st December, the Netflix Original is the second collaboration between Anvitaa Dutt and actor Tripti Dimri. The movie is also supposed to be the debut of Babil Khan, the late actor Irrfan Khan’s son, who will play a sort of competitor to our lead. The movie, in the same vein as Dutt’s director debut film ‘Bulbbul’ is focused on a woman trapped in a world run by men. From the likes of it, the period piece focuses on a singer, who is pushed to the edge of a world full of internal demons, once she doesn’t fulfill the incredibly high standard set by the entertainment industry.
9. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Director: Guillermo del Toro | Language: English | Runtime: 117 Minutes
A retelling of the famous Carlo Collodi fairytale, about a wooden puppet who comes to life and dreams of becoming a real boy, takes place in 1930s fascist Italy. When Pinocchio comes to life, however, he turns out not to be a nice boy but instead the opposite, causing mischief and playing mean tricks. But at its core, Pinocchio is ‘a story of love and disobedience’ as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations, learning the true meaning of life.
In his review for the Austin Chronicle, Steve Davis says, “Officially titled Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio — so as not to be confused with Disney+’s inferior live-action remake released on the streaming platform earlier this year – this dark but never terrifying reimagining was worth the wait, after gestating in development hell and other purgatories for nearly a decade. Tempering and amalgamating certain elements in Collodi’s classic, with a sentimental eye on what made Walt Disney’s moving 1940 adaptation arguably the finest in that studio’s animated oeuvre, the screenplay by del Toro, Patrick McHale, and Matthew Robbins sets the film in fascist Italy, with a stumpy Il Duce (already a caricature) making a cameo appearance (“I like-a puppets”) and the veil of war shrouding everyday life, particularly for la gioventù like Pinocchio and his nemesis-cum-friend, Candlewick. There’s no Pleasure Island or Blue Fairy (in her stead: a similarly conceived Wood Sprite, who animates the lifeless wooden boy) in this newly musicalized version of the tale, while much time is spent in a cobalt-pigmented afterlife in which poker-playing rabbits ferry the dead like Charon. Like all del Toro films, this Pinocchio thrives on a storytelling imagination that thinks outside the box.”
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Director: Albert Serra | Language: French | Runtime: 162 Minutes
On the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, the High Commissioner of the Republic and French government official De Roller is a calculating man with flawless manners. His somewhat broad perception of his role brings him to navigate the high-end ‘establishment’ as well as shady venues where he mingles with the locals. Especially since a persistent rumor has been going around: the sighting of a submarine whose ghostly presence could herald the return of French nuclear testing.
In his review for Slant Magazine, Carson Lund says, “The lethargy that pervades the post-colonialist setting of Pacifiction is no doubt inspired by Joseph Conrad, perhaps even Chantal Akerman’s adaptation of the writer’s work in Almayer’s Folly, but Serra’s particular examination of a Polynesian tourist is rooted less in the political specifics of the region than in a broader feeling of contemporary malaise. As doom and gloom mounts around his outpost and none of his usual methods of outreach yield any satisfying solutions, De Roller becomes an increasingly sympathetic figure, his growing recognition of his own impotence registering as an identifiable symptom of modern life.”
11. One Fine Morning
Director: Mia Hansen-Løve | Language: French | Runtime: 112 Minutes
Sandra, a young mother is raising her daughter alone, pays regular visits to her sick father. While she and her family fight tooth and nail to get him the care he requires, Sandra reconnects with Clément, a friend she hasn’t seen in a while. Although he is in a relationship, the two begin a passionate affair.
In her short review from Cannes, Alissa Wilkinson writes, “Time, in One Fine Morning, passes like a poem or a song, a string of moments weighty with emotion. History and the future can’t be helped, so you have to hang on to the moment. It nearly brushes melodrama, but Seydoux’s performance anchors the film, ultimately rendering it a love letter to the present, and to the ways heartbreak and hope intertwine.”
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12. No Bears
Director: Jafar Panahi | Language: Azeri, Farsi, Turkish | Runtime: 107 Minutes
‘No Bears’ portrays two parallel love stories. In both, the lovers are troubled by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of superstition, and the mechanics of power. Panahi continues his interrogation of authority through cinema with a film about two couples who come up against the social forces around them. Panahi plays himself in the film, stationed in a village where he remotely directs a crew shooting a film just miles away, on the other side of the Iranian border in Turkey.
In his review for The Guardian, Mark Kermonde says, “No Bears is also a piercingly self-aware portrait of an artist who is not afraid to depict himself and his craft as aloof or insular. Despite all that he has faced, Panahi retains the wit and humility to hold himself accountable – to question his art with remarkable candor and self-deprecation. Filtering his immense contribution to cinema through a deceptively incidental lens, he once again reminds us that movie-making can be a profoundly humane endeavor; at once comedic, tragic, and truthful.”
13. Holy Spider
Director: Ali Abbasi | Language: Persian | Runtime: 117 Minutes
A woman journalist Rahimi travels to the Iranian city of Mashhad to investigate a serial killer targeting sex workers. As she draws closer to exposing his crimes, the opportunity for justice grows harder to attain when the murderer is embraced by many as a hero. Based on the true story of the ‘Spider Killer’ Saeed Hanaei, who saw himself as on a mission from God as he killed 16 women between 2000 and 2001.
In our coverage of the film, we said, “Zahra Amir Ebrahimi won the Best Actress Award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this year for her stunning portrayal of this fierce journalist. The film was later selected as the Danish Best International Feature Film entry at the 95th Academy Awards. While presenting the tale of the hunt of the infamous ‘Spider Killer,’ the makers present its wider sociological impact in the diaspora.”
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14. Girl Picture
Director: Alli Haapasalo | Language: Finnish, French | Runtime: 100 Minutes
Mimmi and Rönkkö are best friends, supporting each other in good and bad. They don’t know yet what the future will bring, but the world is open. Emma is a figure skater aiming for an international career. When the three meet at a party, nothing will remain the same.
In our review from Sundance Film Festival, we said, “When it comes to tales of teen girls finding themselves, they are almost always presented in a rather regressive, repressed environment. Not that I claim that the world isn’t that way, but at this point in time, such stories often get tiresome when freeing themselves from this burden of an environment becomes the sole purpose of the story. Keeping that in mind, Finnish filmmaker Alli Haapasalo’s radical debut film ‘Girl Picture (Tytöt tytöt tytöt)’ truly stands out just for allowing the girls in the story to be seen in a world where they are not constantly hassled for what they are. Instead, their conflicts become more personal.”
15. Decision to Leave
Director: Park Chan-wook | Language: Korean, Mandarin | Runtime: 138 Minutes
Park Chan-wook won Best Director, Cannes for ‘Decision to Leave’ (2022). Chan-wook has returned with a romantic thriller that takes his renowned stylistic flair to dizzying new heights. When detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) arrives at a murder scene, he begins to suspect the dead man’s wife Seo-rae (Tang Wei) knows more than she lets on. As he digs deeper, Hae-joon finds himself trapped in between deception and desire, proving that the darkest mysteries lurk inside the human heart.
In our coverage of the film, we said, “Park Chan-wook, the celebrated Korean master behind acclaimed films like Oldboy and The Handmaiden, is back with his new film Decision to Leave (2022). For anyone acquainted with his works, one knows the stylistic flourishes the director masters in – there’s a morbid sense of pleasure at the brutal core of his works. For Decision to Leave, the director takes a squarely different approach- this is an erotic suspense thriller that revolves around a detective case but whose formal interest lies more on the characters than on the revelations. It involves an insomniac detective who gets romantically involved with the victim’s wife. Reasons mislead.”
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Director: Marie Kreutzer | Language: English, French, German, Hungarian | Runtime: 113 Minutes
Empress Elisabeth of Austria is idolized for her beauty and renowned for inspiring fashion trends. But in 1877, ‘Sissi’ celebrates her 40th birthday and must fight to maintain her public image by lacing her corset tighter and tighter. While Elisabeth’s role has been reduced against her wishes to purely performative, her hunger for knowledge and zest for life makes her more and more restless in Vienna. She travels to England and Bavaria, visiting former lovers and old friends, seeking the excitement and purpose of her youth. With a future of strictly ceremonial duties laid out in front of her, Elisabeth rebels against the hyperbolized image of herself and comes up with a plan to protect her legacy.
In our detailed analysis of the film, we said, “The film steers clear of elaborate plotting and iron-fisted narrative structures. Kreutzer lets her heroine amble and indulge and transgress in all her increasingly haywire glory. The film leans more toward capturing a sense of her spirit, her aching need for attention, and her delirious desire to be treated with unbending devotion and complete rapture. When she feels denied all these, she loses her moorings gradually, spinning wildly off control or rather its scant residual vestiges since she left her home in Bavaria for Vienna.”
Director: Lukas Dhont | Language: Dutch, French | Runtime: 105 Minutes
The intense friendship between two thirteen-year-old boys, Leo and Remi, suddenly gets disrupted, because it is questioned by their peers. Struggling to understand what has happened, Leo approaches Sophie, Remi’s mother. ‘Close’ is a film about friendship and responsibility and growing up, sometimes without your best friend by your side.
In his review for Time Out, film critic Philip De Semlyen says, “To the pantheon of films about the pains of leaving childhood behind – The 400 Blows, The Spirit of the Beehive, Rocks, The Go-Between, Boyhood et al – we should find a spot for this beautiful elegy of lost innocence from Belgian director Lukas Dhont (Girl). It’s a story of friendship and loss: a quiet tornado of overwhelming emotions that articulates perfectly what it is to be young and adrift.” Making it one of the most anticipated titles at the 2022 IFFI Goa.
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Director: Charlotte Wells | Language: English | Runtime: 98 Minutes
The stunning debut from Scottish writer-director Charlotte Wells, ‘Aftersun’ juxtaposes a hopeful coming-of-age story with a poignant, intimate family portrait that leaves an indelible impression. At a fading vacation resort in the late 1990s, 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) treasures rare time together with her loving and idealistic father, Calum (BAFTA winner Paul Mescal, ‘Normal People’). As a world of adolescence creeps into view, beyond her eye Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood.
In our review of the film, we said, “There are tender moments of beauty throughout the movie. A lot of drama unfolds through the unspoken and unsaid. When she catches him off-guard about his smoking, he advises her not to do so and quickly changes the topic. When she inquires about his aspirations in his childhood, he is visibly distraught – hinting that all did not go according to plan. Paul Mescal embodies the weary, downbeat father trying his best to enliven his kid. His eyes conceal layers of insecurities that show up from time to time. There is a scene where he refuses to sing with her at the Karaoke and later gets drunk and passes out on her bed. The next morning, he cries at the bedside (Wells does not show his face – a clever and apt decision) and earnestly apologizes for his behavior. He excels in bringing out the nuances of his character.”