Apr 012011
short film
by vancouverfilmschool

It is a festival bonanza for Delhi based filmmaker Nikhil Sablania and a moment to cherish. Nikhil, a young filmmaker, is going to represent India at the 9th International Student Film & Video Festival (ISFVF) of Beijing Film Academy (BFA), Beijing, China with his film Siski (The Sigh).

The Beijing Film Academy is a state-run film institute in Beijing, China. The film school is the largest institution specialized in the tertiary education for film and television production in Asia and has earned international recognition for its achievements in film production.

Nikhil Sablania’s short film Siski (the sigh) would be showcased along with 46 other films from different nations. The film was made as his academic project at one of the premier film institute in India, ‘Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute” (SRFTI) an institute run by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India.

It is a moment of pride for all Indians and a happy moment for Nikhil Sablania, a Dalit filmmaker, for whom it is a dream come true. Speaking about his film Nikhil said, “I always loved horror films. When I got into the film institute it was my dream to make a horror film, but there were many obstacles. First the duration of thirty minutes was not sufficient as we are used to watching feature length horror movies where the first thirty to forty minute are only to establish the horror feeling. Second, it was a challenge to make a horror film with a limited budget & time. And lastly, there always the risk of an intended horror film turning into a comedy (he laughs). But I am happy that the film has been appreciated by the Beijing Film Academy and by the global audience and so I feel satisfied with my work and it makes me even more passionate to make more good films in the future.”

His film Siski (The Sigh) is a twenty nine minutes short horror film telling the story of a young couple who shift into a new house and find themselves in an array of supernatural incidents that unveil a painful and horrific story, and this story changes their lives. The film is written & directed by Nikhil Sablania, the Cinematography is by Vinod Veerakumar, Sound by Ratheesh Ravindran & Editing by Shubhojeet Bhattacharjee. Sudhir Raut, Sanchita Das, Arindam Saha & Riya Podar are main cast of the film & Music is composed by Bhaskar.

The film also got international recognition last year when it became the opening film of the horror section at 13th Portobello Film Festival, London, UK, the biggest independent film competition in UK.

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Feb 212011

This particular movie genre is often confused and misrepresented. While it has many fans across the world, several films which fall in different categories are placed under the “horror” label and they are accepted by the general public. Sites which should provide a good definition of horror, such as the site with the same domain name, features movies such as “Pan’s Labyrinth” in such genre which is absolutely erroneous. Movies such as Pans’s Labyrinth fall within the “Fantasie/Sci-Fi” genre which has nothing to do with horror.

To have a better idea of what this particular genre involves we can define horror films such as: “films that are designed to elicit fright, fear, terror, or horror from viewers. In horror film plots, evil forces, events, or characters, sometimes of supernatural origin, intrude into the everyday world.”

Keeping this definition in mind, the best horror movies tend to leave a certain impression in the viewer. Movies such as “Hostel” or “Saw”, while they are very cool in their own “gory way” fail to deliver the after effects of a good horror movie, for instance, after watching any of the previously mentioned films, an average horror movie fan would go to bed like nothing ever happened, however, if the same viewer were to see a good foreign horror movie such as “The Ring – AKA Ringu” or “Dark Water”, right at the time to turn off the lights and go to bed, an overwhelming feeling of fear takes over; and that’s exactly the way we know that the movie we have seen is a great “horror” movie.

Films which show a great deal of killing are “disturbing” but we all know that if a killer were to attack any of us we’d have a way to fight back, after all, regardless of how twisted a killer might be, he/she is still human. On the other hand, films which portray evil spirits, ghosts, apparitions and demons are a whole different story; what is really frightening to us humans is the fact that if we were in the actor’s shoes we’d realize that “There is absolutely NO way to fight back against these forces”, and relying on a sacred object is not as reassuring as having a weapon which we know is going to injure or vanish whoever or whatever is after us, of course this is all figurative speech, we are just illustrating a point!

Asian horror movies tend to deliver the right blow as far as horror movies go. Since not much is invested in “special effects” they focus their efforts towards ‘the story’ which is way more effective and leaves a stronger impression. All of the movies mentioned below were so good that each had an english remake, which had visual effects improvements in the remake but as many hardcore-horror movie fans can tell, the story might have been ruined which fails to deliver the horrifying effects (in the viewers) compared to the original. Good examples of such movies are:

Ringu: This is also known as “The Ring”. The story revolves around a girl’s death story and the way she was apparently killed by her own parents, then thrown into the depths of a well where she now lives, and escapes into the real world through a cursed video tape in order to take revenge and kill people.

Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara): This is a particularly exceptional Japanese production which shows bone chilling scenes of a little girl who all she ever wanted was to have a mother, even after death! The title describes part of how she died and the element she used to haunt people.

Ju-On: The title translates to english as “The Curse of the Grudge”. This particular movie has no happy ending compared to American movies where the vengeful spirit is exorcised at the end. The story revolves around a house where a mother and a child were murdered by the father, and the way that these spirits come back to hunt whoever who lies within the walls of this residence.

Very few american movies have taken the horror movie making factors into their own productions. The very best example we have of a good english horror movie is “Silent Hill” which was derived from a video game but had a terrific story and amazingly frightening special effects. Besides such rare movies, asian films know how to deliver bone chilling productions relying mostly on good story telling rather than gory scenes and visual effects. Other Asian movie recommendations are: A tale of two sisters, Phone, Premonition, Uzumaki, The Cure.

Algerian resistance with gangster feel
Outside the Law, an Oscar-nominated foreign film from Rachid Bouchareb, is a gripping French-Algerian coproduction that makes Algeria’s epic struggle for independence from France look like a gangster movie.

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