Weekend Recco: An Online Buñuel Retrospective At Dharamshala International Film Festival, Film Companion
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The surrealist, taboo-trashing Spanish-Mexican filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) once noted, “Mystery is the essential element of every work of art.” As a director, he often took mystery to absurd limits, his characters often confused, suddenly eating dinner at a table only to find themselves actually on stage behind a curtain, with a biting audience lurking. No one knows what is going on. 

Buñuel began making movies in the 1920s when the Surrealist Movement was gaining traction, and continued making films as cinema moved from silent films to the talkies to technicolour. His crowning achievement was being thrown off a set by Greta Garbo. His last of 20 films, Cet obscur objet du désir (That Obscure Object of Desire), was released in 1977.  

Titled ‘Enigma & Provocation: The Cinema of Luis Buñuel’, Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) is curating free screenings of 5 of his films, in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain, New Delhi and Instituto Cervantes.

All screenings are free and will only be available to audiences in India. Following is the schedule. 

11 – 12 June: Viridiana (1961)

Dealing with  rape, incest, necrophilia, animal cruelty and sacrilege the surprisingly made it through the Spanish censor. It was the co-winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.

13 – 14 June: The Exterminating Angel (1962)

Following a group of wealthy guests who find themselves unable to leave a lavish dinner party, the film is considered one of the best 1,000 films by The New York Times. This film received the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award from the international critics and the Screenwriters Guild at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.

15 – 21 June: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Belle de Jour (1967), and Tristana (1970)

New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane noted that to watch Belle de Jour was to “struggle vainly to pretend that you are not turned on”, and to watch The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie was to “wonder if you are one of those under suspicion”. The latter film and Tristana received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

19 June, 5 p.m.: A special conversation between philologist and journalist David Felipe Arranz, and independent researcher Iyesha Geeth Abbas, followed by a Q&A session.

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