Tranquil, violent, intimate and objective, DARESALAM is a powerful film of resonant depth that “brilliantly weaves memory, hope and despair” (San Francisco Weekly) into “a poignant essay on civil war” (LA Weekly). In his “spectacularly photographed” (SF Weekly) feature debut, writer and director Issa Serge Coelo contrasts the simple cycles of African life with the complex issues underneath his native Chad’s unending civil revolt.
In a small Central African village, boyhood friends Djimi and Koni have come of age under a post-colonial government that levies crippling taxes and legally robs local farmers of their meager crops. When impulsive Koni savagely attacks a visiting government official, the resulting massacre forces the two friends on a journey that will transform them from boys into men, from farmers into soldiers and from villagers into revolutionaries. “We fight in one world so we can live in another,” declares Koni as the two battle shoulder to shoulder against government troops. But while Koni embraces the politics and carnage of their dangerous new guerilla existence, Djimi longs for the simplicity and grace of the village life they’ve left behind. As the rebels move closer to victory, the two friends move closer to a clash of their own.
Director Coelo “forges strong characters etched by the wind of history” (Variety) using a remarkably assured cast of newcomers. By giving a face and voice to the violent strife tearing apart modern central Africa, DARESALAM conveys the human cost of regional bloodshed with a clarity “so achingly beautiful and sad I watched with tears in my eyes” (LA Weekly).
Rich, young, gorgeous and pampered, sisters Sowmya (Tabu) and Meenakshi (Aishwarya Rai, Bride and Predjudice) want for nothing except the true love their hearts crave. While Sowmya grudgingly places family responsibilities ahead of romance, Meenakshi yearns for a white knight who will come to her “just like a storm.” Three different coincidences bring the girls three very different suitors and a tempest of romantic complications. Manohar (Ajith), an aspiring filmmaker, falls for Sowmya but will wed her only after directing his first film. Commando Major Bala (Mammootty) woos Meenakshi despite physical and emotional war wounds and competition from Srikanth (Abbas), a charismatic poetry-quoting businessman. But with their patriarch’s health ebbing, the romantic storm Meenakshi and Sowmya wished for may soon be eclipsed by the harsh realities of modern South Asian life.
In his sophomore directing effort, former cinematographer Rajiv Menon garnishes I Have Found It‘s feast of visual brilliance with knowing genre nods and witty social satire. Featuring songs by superstar composer A.R. Rahman (DIL SE), I Have Found It is a delightful mixture of the poetic traditions, exotic rhythms and dazzling showmanship that characterize the best of Bollywood cinema.
When Sommer (Dieterle) accidentally kills a nightclub patron harassing his wife Helene (Mary Johnson), he’s sentenced to three years in prison. Inside prison, Sommer grapples with the realities of men separated from women but not from temptation, while outside Mary longs for her husband’s reassuring caress. Denied the physical comfort promised in their marriage vows, the young newlyweds are driven to risk their future and find release where they can — Sommer in the arms of a handsome fellow prisoner and Helene with the boss whose kindness becomes her only solace.
Remarkably at ease with his taboo subject matter, director Dieterle depicts the hothouse passions of Sex in Chains with ravishing black and white photography. Actor Dieterle gives a restrained, honest performance as a traditionally-minded young husband forced to test his marriage and his very sexuality. Though censored after its 1928 release, Sex in Chains has been restored to its original state-of-the-silent-film-art brilliance by the Filmmuseum Muenchen and is presented here for the first time on DVD.