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South Asia

Le serviteur de Kali (2002)
Adoor Gopalakrishnan
India
88′
Kaliyappan is the executioner of the Maharajah of Travancore. He lives on the edge of a small village in the magnificent countryside of Kerala. For generations his family has lived on the benefits granted to the Maharajah after every execution. But these are becoming increasingly rare, and Kaliyappan's family lives in misery. Paradoxically, the old executioner, tired of fulfilling a mission that had become a curse, has also become a healer. Adoor Gopalakrishnan is one of the central figures in Indian cinema and one of the outstanding filmmakers from Kerala, whose film culture he and Shaji Karun have a major influence on. His film "Le serviteur de Kali" is a fable based on real facts. The first shot shows an old executioner looking at his hands. He feels guilty about the last execution and is afraid of the next one. When he again receives the order to execute the sentence, Kaliyappan feels miserable, staggers around and drinks to forget his remorse and misery. As if the alcohol could lift the responsibility and replace the executioner. The son will execute the sentence, the curse threatening the family cannot be averted. In the end, the shadows of the procession are the dark shadows of an endless succession of mourning, unless they are the shadows of the cave. A hidden pearl of cinema.
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Une ville à Chandigarh (1965)
Alain Tanner
India
53′
When, in 1947, a portion of Punjab province was assigned to the newly created Pakistani State, Albert Mayer began planning a new capital for the portion which remained in the possession of India. Le Corbusier had been responsible since the 1950s for general planning and, more particularly, for large-scale buildings typical of the governmental sector. A year after the death of Le Corbusier, Alain Tanner began shooting his film in a city still partially under construction, or even, in certain places, at the planning stage. The inhabitants of the metropolis, however, already numbered some 120,000. Among the most modern of cities architecturally, Chandigarh was archaically constructed by hand. Impressions of this green horizontal city-brick not permitting vertical development-are captured in long static shots and numerous traveling shots. John Berger's commentary inscribes the visual beauty of that reality within a larger reflection: climate did strongly influence the decisions of the planners, whereas the new city did not succeed in breaking the old social rules with a single blow. These rules continue to determine the level of education and income, and it is not even possible for these workers who are in the process of constructing Chandigarh to live in it themselves. However, the film partakes of Le Corbusier's optimism in its appreciation of architecture as an instrument aiding men to clarify their visions, to exercise their powers of discernment and to establish new relations, even if the results will only make themselves felt in the long term.
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