If the cultural/social health of our times is reflected by the kinds of films that comes out from us and to us, 2017 was a big, impactful year. From a large number of films that made its mark in several ways ... festivals, awards and various other ways, we have picked a lot of ten which represents a good mix of deep issues with treatments that are engaging and compelling. If Velvet Revolution represents a unique collaborative drive, films like Pushkar Puran and Ask the Sexpert address deep elements in our social fabric with a storytelling that makes us think about these elements. Similarly, Soz: A Ballad of Malladies or I am Jeeja explore through the mist, the real state of lives that we often skim through and don’t bother to recognise. And so on. All in all, a very healthy crop of must see films, which are bound to add a perspective to our overall awareness of life and times and discover something extra within us all.
1. A Suitable Girl by Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra
The film challenges conventions and reveals truthful portraits of its central subjects with beautiful cinematography, compelling characters, and a delightful score from Gingger Shankar.
2. Ask the Sexpert by Vaishali Sinha
A delightful and insightful film on one of the most popular but taboo columns in our tabloid daily, Mumbai Mirror. Very well treated, followed and explored.
3. I am Jeeja by Swati Chakraborty
Swati Chakraborty’s documentary beautifully explores the lives and battles of people living with cerebral palsy through a disability rights activist’s stirring story, whom an airline deplaned due to her condition in 2012.
4. Jane by Brett Morgan
Jane is an archive-led portrait of a star of the science world, the British primatologist and a foremost chimpanzee expert, Jane Goodall. With access to more than 100 hours of never-before-seen footage shot by late National Geographic cinematographer (and Goodall’s former husband), Hugo van Lawick, he has paired it with all-new interviews and a fabulous, original score by composer Philip Glass.
5. Killing for Conservation by Justin Rowlatt
This BBC documentary has recently garnered press and conversation that it hadn’t wished for. Shot by BBC journalist Justin Rowlatt, based on Kaziranga National Park in Assam, this documentary is a scathing comment on how park officials often shoot innocent people in the interest of protecting rhinos. Addressing the human right violations, they discuss how park-guards have shoot-at-sight authorisation which is often used indiscriminately and often unfairly at the local tribal communities.
6. Mrs Fang by Wang Bing
The winner of the Golden Leopard award at this year’s Locarno Festival, Mrs. Fang is the latest film from celebrated Chinese documentarian, Wang Bing. In Mrs. Fang, politics and economics loom in the background as the director trains his camera on the face of an elderly woman who lay dying surrounded by family in a tiny room.
7. Pushkar Puran by Kamal Swaroop
By using image and sound and minimal narration, Swaroop compellingly captures the cacophonous milieu: the hordes of livestock brought in for trade, the theatrical performances, the swim in the Pushkar lake, and the seemingly eccentric characters who appear to have belonged to that place for ages.
8. Soz: A Ballad of Maladies - Tushar Madhav & Sarvnik Kaur
The film reveals a fierce and thoughtful spirit that continues to flourish in a brutalised Kashmir and among its people.
9. The Tiger who crossed the Line by Krishnendu Bose
Made over four years, the film reports from distant corners of India, using infrared night vision cameras and compelling found footage, the film brings some never seen images of tigers and leopards living on the edge of their habitat and addresses the man-animal conflict which is a huge problem in conservation today.
10. Velvet Revolution by Nupur Basu
An exciting collaborative film by six women directors from four different countries who take their lens up close to women making news in a world driven with conflict and dictatorial regimes.