Press Screenings: Day Four

For people who were hoping to hear about day two and three of the press screenings: sorry, I wasn’t there. But I was there for day four, and while I was hoping for Aloha Thursday vibes, only a few of us brought the love.

Sublime (Mariano biasin, 2022, argentina, 100 min)

Photo courtesy of SIFF

We start with a birthday party, made to look as if we’re watching an old home movie. Manu is sad because Felipe hasn’t arrived yet. But then the doorbell rings, and he is all smiles as his best friend arrives.

We then jump from childhood to the teen years. Felipe is helping decorate a van so Manu can lose his virginity to his girlfriend, Azul. Felipe is dating Iara. They are both in a band with Fran (lead singer) and Mauro (drums). Manu plays bass, Felipe plays lead guitar. They are rehearsing for a special concert at Felipe’s birthday. And Manu slowly realizes he has a crush on Felipe.

In the details, this story is great. The dialogue and situations all ring true. The movie, however, is so concerned with the details that it takes time for it to settle into what it’s about. Director Mariano Biasin often uses extreme close-ups in scenes with Manu, particularly when he’s in his head, and uses close-ups and medium-close shots to create a sense of intimacy with the characters. It’s a slow burn, but ultimately a satisfying one.

On an unrelated note, the lights came on in the theater before the movie had completely ended. Luckily, someone was in the booth and was able to kill that cue.

Sublime plays at 6:45pm on Tuesday, April 19 at SIFF Cinema Uptown and at 3:45pm on Wednesday, April 20, at Pacific Place.

last film show (pan nalin, 2021, india, 110 min)

Photo courtesy of SIFF

Sublime has a flat aspect ratio: Last Film Show was shot in scope. That led to it being not properly masked when it started, but then the projectionist fixed it, then unfixed it, then fixed it again by electronically adjusting the curtains.

Somehow it seems appropriate to acknowledge this in a film in love with film and the art of film projection. When I volunteered for SIFF in 2010, almost all of the films were projected on film, but even a couple years later, digital was taking over.

This film takes place in the year 2010 (what a coincidence!) in the small Indian village of Chalala — where (as we are informed) Gandhi was born. Samay sells tea to the passengers on the train as it stops in town — tea which is provided by his father, even though they are of the Brahmin caste. The film starts with his family planning to go see a film, only because it deals with the Goddess Mahakali. Otherwise, his father feels movies are beneath them, but Samay is entranced by the light being projected on the screen.

Wanting to go back to the theater, Samay skips school and steals money from the tea sales to buy himself a ticket. This movie is an action film and is very far removed from a film about a goddess. The next time he skips school to see a movie, he sneaks into the theater and is caught. When he’s thrown out of the theater, he ends up talking to a man smoking outside the theater. The man’s name is Fazal. No longer hungry, Samay offers him his school lunch. What he doesn’t realize is that Fazal is the projectionist, and with a steady bribe of food, he sneaks Samay into the projection booth so that he can watch the movies from there. Eventually, he starts teaching him about how film is run, and Satay includes the other village boys to help him create a projector of his own — a project that is helped when he realizes that the crates they see brought to the train station are filled with film reels. Soon the boys start stealing the reels in their attempts to project a movie. But progress threatens to upend them all, as a new electric train line means the train will no longer stop in Chalala for tea, and a change in how movies are made will threaten Fazal’s job.

This movie is a difficult one to review because the parts of the movie that deal with movies and projection and the wonder of films are fantastic, while some of the scenes in between could’ve been shortened. All the child actors in this movie, however, are fantastic, and I’ve rarely felt so sad for an inanimate object being destroyed as I was late in this film. It may not be Cinema Paradiso (the shorter version), but it’s still worth watching.

The film begins and ends with the names of filmmakers. The first ones are printed, as “Thanks for those who lighted the way.” The last ones are spoken, starting with Indian movie stars and directors, and ending with so many more. One hopes this movie finds a distributor in the US, if only to provide proof that the love of film stretches across all cultures.

Last Film Show plays at 3:30pm on Wednesday, April 20 at Ark Lodge and at 4:30pm on Sunday, April 24 at SIFF Cinema Uptown.