Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Mellow Mud

-Brian Mendonça

To connect across geographies and cultures with ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and to realize that in some way we are all one family has been the exhilarating effect of all great art, and film is no exception.
                                                                                                   Tomasz Kozlowski
                                                           Ambassador of the European Union to India

I managed to see one film of the European Union Film Festival 2017 (EUFF). It was on a Saturday after I held my English classes in college.

As I stepped out of class and into the theatre at Maquinez palace, Panjim,  where the film was being screened, I was unsure which was which. I had used the EUFF as a theme for my class. I asked the students to provide the dialogue for the French film 3 Coeurs / Three Hearts (Benoît Jacquot, 2014). In this film Marc falls in love with two women at different times and later discovers they are sisters. The plot seemed to appeal to them and they set about it tittering away in glee.

In a role play of the movie the girls enacted an engagement scene of Marc with his second sister Sophie. At the event Sylvie, the first sister, appears and he is surprised to see her. Sophie demands an explanation. When she is told the truth she forgives him.

The quest for love continues in the Latvian movie Es Esmu Šeit  / Mellow Mud (Renārs Vimba, 2016). Here Raya (Elina Vaska) the 17-year-old girl living in rural Latvia is the focus of the story. She comes from a broken family. Her father is unknown and her mother has remarried and shifted to London forsaking Raya and her kid brother Robis. ‘Please forgive me,’ she says when she slams the door in Raya’s face when Raya looks her up in London asking her to return.

Using mud from the marshes as a leitmotif anchored the film in squelchy sounds and tones of ochre. The sound track had so much clarity is seemed as though the very earth was speaking. It reminded me of the eerie and strident moans of the earth as you drive in Goa in areas where deep excavation in going on. Right from the first scene when Kaya and Robis are walking in the marshes till the end where Kaya in her virginal white dress walks in the mud staining it, ripping it, the film explores the theme of mud very creatively. The cake for the missing Olga, Kaya’s grandmother --who Kaya has buried away to continue to receive her pension -- is gobbled up by Kaya and her English tutor-lover after a torrid roll in the mud.

Kaya’s story is universal. How she is pushed into adulthood and desperately tries to cope with it is sensitively rendered. Her relationship with Robis is poignant as she is sister as well as mother to him. The film ends with them in the frame walking towards the water. The camera pans out slowly, leaving only both of them for each other in the world.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa, on 16 July 2017; Pix courtesy 

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