The moral quandaries faced by a lady in power on the one hand and the inner urge to stay true to the needs of her people were explored in a French film called Promises or Les Promesses. The Director Thomas Kruithof said he wanted to write a film about a whole political set-up with the position of Mayor in the center. This movie explored what one does after you get the power; how you fulfill your promises or how you change the lives of people in your town.
This film, he said, was not about corruption although it is a recurring theme in political films. Rather, it is a portrayal of the difficult choices between one’s ego and one’s ethics. Speaking about why he made the movie he said “I wanted to make a movie about politics but not about conquering power. It is more on what you do when you get the power and how you manage to try and change the lives of your citizens”.
The Director explained the fundamental questions the film raises. “The protagonist Clémence, played by French actress Isabelle Hubbert, is shown as the fearless mayor of a town near Paris. A mayor who knows her citizens and their problems, she is completing the final term of her political career. However, when she is approached to become the Minister, her ambition rises and she faces a dilemma at the hands of power. The film questions if she can find a way to survive in a highly ambitious world despite having political integrity and sincerity to her citizens.”
The protagonist has always fought poverty and unemployment. However, when the prospect of power arises, she is caught within her own desires; though otherwise honest, she changes her demeanor. “She desires power, at the same time, she is afraid to lose her integrity. She comes off as calm outside but inside, she is devoid of it. A woman in politics is never at rest.”
The film, he said says a lot about political courage, commitment, ambition and flaws of character. The protagonist goes through a conflict between her personal interests and social interests, but in the end she opts for society’s interest. On this, the Director has this to say: “Even if like Clémence, you are a well-intentioned politician, at some point, the idea of quitting and the emptiness that awaits you when you quit is something one can relate to. I wanted to find a balance between conflict and chaos within her character.” Having made another film before, Kruithof said he was fascinated by the elections in his country. That is when he decided to make his second film on politics.
Another interesting movie was The Preacher, a suspense thriller which focuses on the organised exploitation of innocent believers by faith-healers and scamsters. It is a story of intrigue and fanaticism, in a city in which professed faith mixes well with corruption and fraud. Tito Jara the director of the film said “Through this film I have been trying to invite the attention of the people to a subject which has universal appeal. Since being a believer myself, my movie is not against any religion, but those dark elements who are playing with the lives and emotions of innocent people whose only fault is that they seek miracles in despair when they run out of hope,” the Director said. Adding that religion is an easy subject to take offence to, Jara explained, “We are not trying to create any controversy with this film. My movie is against the people who take advantage in the name of religion.”
“I understand that people are sensitive about religion, but I believe we can have a nice conversation on the subject,” Jara said expressing hope.
The film, based on real life events, tries to portray the story of a little girl who is being used by a swindler by making people believe that she is a “blessed one" who can heal the sick and give solace to troubled minds.
“During the course of the making of the film which took me 9 years, I have met many such miracle makers and swindlers. This movie is a real account of what is happening in my country,” said Jara, who is from Ecuador.
Asserting that such types of preachers, scamsters and organised gangs can be found in any part of the world, Jara said that he believes this movie will pave the way for some different views and discussions on the subject. “I want people to ask among themselves, how as a human one can do such things to people who are innocent believers,” he exhorts. The movie, which was shot in Spain mostly, is a joint collaboration between Ecuador, Spain and Columbia.
Expressing happiness over having the film’s world premiere at IFFI, Jara, who is also the writer, editor and Producer of the film, said that the experience had been really amazing. “I feel very humbled to be here. It is quite unbelievable for me. I am so happy that the movie is well appreciated by the audience.”
It was a humid day but these movies certainly made for an entertaining day at the festival.