25 years filmmagazine shomingeki!
shomingekiblog is a blog associated with my former print magazine shomingeki published in German language. This blog will focuse mostly on english texts, translations from German into English and in some exceptions french texts. The official home page is at the moment: www.shomingeki.org. The official page for the German language version of shomingeki is: www.shomingekionline.org
shomingeki is now after 24 printissues available online. Non-Profit.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Notes on Bulbul can sing by Rima Das, India: 2018-Berlin Filmfestival 2019 I. -Generation14plus
came into my mind when I saw this film. The first was an idea from
Helmut Färber´s film essay 3 Minutes from a film by Ozu,
an analysis of a scene from Banshun (Late Spring) where Färber
quoted André Bazin´s text on Renoir´s masterpiece The
River and when Färber mentioned the feeling that some films
seems like to made by themselves. The second idea has as well with
André Bazin to do, when he mentioned in his book on Jean Renoir the
term “Avantgarde of the heart”. This term meant for Bazin all
currents in film history important to him.
What we know
about Rima Das is that she works mostly with non-professional actors,
she is her own director of cinematography, editor, writer director
and producer. That these independent films do not have a big budget
is a fact we have already forgotten after the first minutes. The
films moves freely between epic and very personal cinema. She does
not only tell about a village community of the federal state where
she comes from, she offers as well a visionary very universal and
very cinematic praise of the tangible and visible physical world, you
find elsewhere only in the films by Ford, Malick, Renoir or in this
rare Vietnamese masterpiece Thuong nho dong que (Nostalgia
for the Countryside) by Dang Nhat Minh.
There are two
adolescent girls and a boy of the same age. They spend their free
time together. The traditional gender roles have not yet power over
them. They live in a village in Assam and at the beginning they are
still unknowingly of the strict patriarchal rules in this village.
Piece by piece the world with all its ambivalence unfolds and the
perception about the world like it is, is nothing else than the
result of a remarkable observation. For now the girls Bulbul and
Bonny and the boy Sumu are inseparably. It seems that the film is not
telling a story but the story arises from the things, landscapes,
people and beings we witness. The cinema scope-photography creates a
dynamic range between intimate and epic cinema. The camera literally
caresses its young protagonists and all living beings. There is a
tenderness towards living beings, if towards the protagonists, or
just a goatling or a little cat. Sometimes it is just a hand which
touches the plants on the fields.
sing in front of an audience despite her nice voice. That frustrates
her father, a musician. But the film is already singing the whole
time a praise of all visible signs of creation with a intensity very
close to the last films by Terrence Malick. Later when the beauty of
the world collides with the man-made world with its meaningless rules
and restrictions this “song” gets darker and more elegiac.
sing is another enrichment of the sub-genre called “coming
of Age”-films. This genre reminds us in the bittersweet memory when
the world is split in how it could be and how it really is.
The moment when
a harmless dalliance between teenagers causes a scandal in the
village, the film has its tragic turning point. Beauty and poetry
faces soulless rules and restrictions. The school director who
appears almost as a Kafkaesque representative of a stiff power,
orders a school expulsion against Bonny and Bulbul. From now on the
playfulness, the tenderness is piece by piece replaced by oppression
The river near
the village was often a place of games, fun and dreams for the young
protagonists. Near the end it appears like a reflection of a lost
When the film
moves to its end, I get an idea about its richness and I still can´t
believe it is presented in only 95 minutes.
At the end
Bulbul and a woman from her village go to the river for mourning the
loss of a loved one. Bulbul sings quietly. They are framed into this
mighty landscape and the clouded sky at dawn. This moment is a good
example for this combination of cinematic landscape painting and
And I am
totally disrupted between the breathtaking beauty of this film and
its heartbreaking finale.
How can I
further describe a cinematic experience which not just sums up
experiences but intensifies experiences into a visual poem which will
stay with me for a long time.
sing is a film which has an absolute confidence in the
potentials of cinema. It is a film of absolute attention towards the
things it presents and therefore great cinema. After the films by
young filmmaker from India I saw recently like Konkona Sensharma´s A
Death in the Gunj, Pushpendra Singh´s Ashwatthama or
Kanwal Sethi´s Once again.Bulbul can sing by
Rima Das is another gem outside of Bollywood and a very promising
example of young Indian cinema.
There was a
time when the Berlin Film festival played a key role in the promotion
of Indian art cinema outside of India. It was in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the last decades, Indian cinema appears in Berlin only very
sporadic and the very few great films I could see at the Berlin
Filmfestival appeared only in the Berlinale-Forum and the
And yes, a
cinematic beauty like Bulbul can sing is one of the
reason this Generation-section became over the years my favorite
section of this film festival.
Tomczak Screenings: 12.Feb, 16.30 Zoo Palast 14.Feb, 17.00 Haus der Kulturen der Welt 15.Feb, 10.00, Zoo Palast 2 16.Feb, 14.30, Cubix 7