Friday,15 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1261, (3 - 9 September 2015)
Friday,15 December, 2017
Issue 1261, (3 - 9 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

V for vengeance

Soha Hesham enjoys the opening film of Zawya’s new season

wild1
wild1
Al-Ahram Weekly

Since being launched in March 2014, Zawya (or “Corner”), the art house film initiative of director-producer Marianne Khoury, has rapidly shaped and rearranged Cairo cinematic map. Even when film enthusiasts are not attending Zawya screenings – which they anticipate with excitement – the initiative seems to have encouraged film circles to obtain, exchange and discuss films not usually available to the Egyptian audience. Not only has Zawya introduced non-commercial and documentary films, it also revisits landmark classics from the history of Egyptian cinema: two special screenings for the visaully impaired of Youssef Chahine’s Al-Nasser Salahelddin (1963) and a tribute screening of Said Marzouk’s Zawgati wel Kalb (My Wife and the Dog, 1971), the latter at the start of this season, are but two examples.

***

The season opened with the Spanish-Argentine film Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales), produced by Pedro Almodóvar and directed by the young Argentine filmmaker Damián Szifrón. Well-known for a range of short films and television series in the 1990s, he made his debut El Fondo del Mar (The Bottom of the Sea) in 2003, followed by Tiempo de Vallientes (On Probation) in 2005.

For Wild Tales (122 mins.), Szifrón came up with six separate stories of revenge progressing from the mundane to the lunatic with an ultimate message against the insanity of the world. Each has a powerful and unexpected ending, but it is the spontaneous, unbridled violence of the characters in the midst of the familiar and the everyday that marks out the universe of thought the film intimates. It is as if the director is asking, what would the world look like in the complete absence of all control? In the process he brings up government routine and corruption, coincidence, marriage and many other themes.

THE ONE WITH THE PLANE: Set on a plane, the first story involves two passengers, a man and a woman, having a chance conversation that reveals their common connection to a wannabe musician and composer named Gabriel Pasternak. Gabriel used to be the woman’s boyfriend. He was evaluated as a musician by a jury including the man, who thus destroyed his future. But as time passes it becomes clear that other passengers have a connection with the same person – until they realise they are all on the plane for a reason...

THE ONE WITH TWO WOMEN AND A RESTAURANT: In the second story, the waitress in an empty diner realises she knows the brusque customer who has just walked in: a corrupt politician soon to be running for parliament. To the only other person on the premises, the cook, she recounts how this man drove her own father to kill himself. The cook, a huge and seemingly ruthless character, persuades the waitress to add rat poison to the man’s food. When the girl refuses the woman not only rails against people without whom the world would be a better place but also reminds her that even if she ended up in jail that would be better than her current, miserable life...


THE ONE WITH A CRIME OF PASSION: A trifling traffic dispute devolves into an insanely violent conflict – concluded in such a way that the police concludes it was a crime of passion.


THE ONE WITH “ENGINEER DYNAMITE”: A law-abiding engineer comes back from buying a birthday cake for his daughter to discover that his car was towed. He pursues his car, trailing the traffic police, who insist on giving him a ticket. As he tries to explain that it was not his fault – no sign was there telling him not to park – he begins to lose control and ends up smashing the office glass. The incident results in him losing his job, but the next time the same incident happens after a job interview, he pays the ticket money without ado. He has already found a solution to his satisfaction...


THE ONE WITH THE HIT-AND-RUN: An upper-class young man, driving while drunk, hits a pregnant woman and drives off. His mother and father refuse to have him convicted, and with the help of their lawyer begin to arrange things so that their old chauffeur will take the son’s place. At some point the judge realises what is going on, the lawyer tries to bribe him – and the most unexpected surprises begin to surface.


THE ONE WITH THE CRAZY WEDDING: The sixth is the most courageous story in the film. During their swanky wedding, at which all family and friends are gathered, the bride spots the bridegroom being overfamiliar with one of the guests. While they dance she furiously questions him until he confesses to having had an affair with the girl in question. The most outrageous scenario ensues...

Wild Tales won the best actor, best actress, best film and best original screenplay awards as well as many others at the Award of the Argentinean Academy. It was nominated for the best foreign language film of the year at the Academy Awards USA 2015, and also for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2014. The film won over 30 other awards and was nominated to 44 in total.

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