Maa Amritamayi to '99 Francs', Kounen's voyage continues

Panaji, Dec 2 Dutch-born French filmmaker Jan Kounen is at the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here to present a film that, on the face of it, appears to go against the very grain of the kind of cinema that he has made so far.

Sunday, December 02, 2007   |  Copyright: IANS  |  Comments 0 Comments  |  667 Views

Panaji, Dec 2 (IANS) Dutch-born French filmmaker Jan Kounen is at the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here to present a film that, on the face of it, appears to go against the very grain of the kind of cinema that he has made so far.

But scratch the surface and you realise that '99 Francs', a breezy black comedy about life in the fast lane, furthers the view that there are realms of existence that consumerism-driven, material success-oriented societies cannot grasp, let alone experience.

The director's last film was 'Darshan: The Embrace', a 100-minute documentary on spiritual leader Maa Amritamayi that was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005.

Kounen has also directed the fictional 'Blueberry' and the freewheeling documentary 'Other Worlds', both of which emerged from his encounters with the Shipibo Indians of the Peruvian Amazon. 'They were tributes to indigenous shamanism,' he said.

Talking about his new movie, Kounen said, 'If these films projected the spiritual wisdom of those who can see and live another dimension of reality, '99 Francs' is a severe critique of a society where drugs, sex and hyper-consumerism reign supreme.'

'People have asked me why I made a film like '99 Francs' after a documentary on Amma, who embraces each of her disciples at well-attended darshan sessions. My answer is that this film is a result of natural, logical progression,' he added.

'99 Francs' is about an advertising copywriter who has everything that his heart craves - professional glory, money, women, cocaine, and the works. He believes that man, like everything else, is a product, and he decides today what people will want tomorrow. But then he botches up big time. What should have been the biggest advertising campaign of his life threatens to derail him completely. Life is about to catch up with him.

The question that the film asks is will he, or won't he, be able to break away from the chimera that he is chasing?

'99 Francs', the director said was well received back in France when it was commercially released two months ago.

However, Kounen is yet to find takers for 'Darshan: The Embrace in India'.

'Is it because it presents an outsider's view of Indian spirituality?', the director asked incredulously.


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