Thursday, September 06, 2007


The Toronto International Film Festival began its festivities yesterday, and Before the Rains will have it its first public screening on Friday evening!! Here is a super cool poster that Tez got from one of the writers of the film. It has gorgeous colors and a lovely picture of Ms Ehle methinks!

TIFFReviews seems to be a fairly comprehensive site, and hopefully they will post reviews of the movie once it has debuted. They have also compiled a list of links to trailers for 143 of the films showing in Toronto, but Before the Rains is unfortunately not among them. There is, however, a link to a trailer for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Go to Brightcove to watch it and catch two fleeting glimpses of Rosemary Harris. And look for Utopians Ethan Hawke and Brian F. O'Byrne. Warning: the trailer gives away a lot of the plot!

In his "preview" of Before the Rains, Tom Hall of the Back Row Manifesto dubs the movie "colonial noir":
The issue of imperialism is one of the "big themes" that will be on display this autumn; From the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq to films like Micheleange Quay's story of Hatian race consciousness Eat, For This Is My Body (more on this film in a couple of days), the cultural collisions and power relations between the haves and have-nots has always been an inspiration for film artists. Santosh Sivan's Before The Rains, which is having its World Premiere at Toronto, catches the eye for a single sentence in the festival's catalogue;

" A sweeping film full of striking vistas, Before the Rains has the look of a fine period epic, but as it binds its characters tighter and tighter within their dilemmas, it reveals the gears of a good film noir."

A colonial noir? The film that comes to mind immediately is Betrand Tavernier's Coup de Torchon and if Sivan's film comes close to matching the tone of that great classic, I will be thrilled. Obviously, I think Before The Rains promises something much different (particularly the perspectives of his Indian characters in the colonial moment), but as things stand in the world around us, a colonial noir sounds note perfect and a terrific antidote to some of the more literal-minded approaches to the stories of domination in our own times. [...]
He also mentions Jennifer Ehle specifically:
[...] I also have loved Jennifer Ehle since I saw her on Broadway in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing; She is a magical actress, but I have yet to see a film that truly captures her abilities. I was lucky enough to have spent a day at Lincoln Center this past spring, and I saw Ehle again in Stoppard's three-play The Coast Of Utopia marathon and again, she was tremendous. If anyone can capture her prowess, maybe Sivan is the man to do it. Looking forward to this one. [...]
Sameer of BlogTo has provided a list of recommended movies to see at TIFF and Before the Rains has made the cut. (Its poster even made it to the top of the page.) Here is what Sameer has to say about the film:
Before the Rains - One of the most gorgeously shot films in years, Santosh Sivan's newest movie feature some fantastic acting by Nandita Das and Rahul Bose.
BlogTo will be covering the Festival, so we will be keeping a close eye on them for news.

The Indian Express has a nice article about director/cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who talks about his experience making the film:
[...] If not exactly a leap into the unknown, Before the Rains is a testimony to the spirit of adventure that drives Sivan. The basic idea came from the producers. The director decided to set the narrative in Kerala for “it suited adaptation to an Indian context.”

He explains, “Before the Rains is a film that incorporates something I relate to. As a boy I wondered by whom and when those treacherous roads in Kerala’s spice hills were constructed. The film explores the elements that went into the weaving of a road through nature, into the skies.”

That’s par for the course for a filmmaker who revels in blending the universal with the personal and who once dared to stake his all on a megastar-driven vehicle like Asoka, a visually lush but ill-fated epic. “The producers would obviously like to take Before the Rains to the world market,” he says.

“It was great working with talent from different parts of the world,” says Sivan. “A mix of languages were spoken during the shoot. For me, it was especially rewarding to have Malayalam actor Thilakan in a guest role. This was the first time I directed him after shooting him as a cinematographer for Perumthachan (1990).”

The shoot was a breeze. He says, “Rahul (Bose) and Nandita (Das) are at home with foreign productions and sync sound. Since the film is about relationships it was good to have a close-knit atmosphere.” Sivan reveals that Bose plays a character who straddles two worlds—the world of a colonial planter and that of his own. “The film is a study of the turmoil he goes through,” he adds. [...]
There is further quotage from Sivan at TIFF's South Facing Blog:
"My attempts to capture light are based on my experiences with weather the rain, sun, snow and clouds. In Kerala where I grew up monsoons made heavy rains a part of our life. Besides, there was always a presence of water -- Rain, ponds, sea water or the backwaters. My fascination for water in a very indirect way helped me hone my eye for colour and light in visuals and cinematography. [...]
Lastly, Playbill has one more photo of Jennifer Ehle at the opening of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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