Oct-Dec 2010 Screenings
2008 - Uberto Pasolini - 108 - Sri Lanka
Fri 3 Dec 2010 at 8.30 p.m.
MacNamaras Pub, Scarriff
Cast: Dharmapriya Dias, Gihan de Chickera, Dharshan Dharmaraj, Mahendra Perera
Storyline: According to the International Handball Federation, there are 35 recognised member nations of the Asian handball division. Sri Lanka is not one of them. It seems, in fact, that Sri Lankans have very little concept of the sport at all, let alone enough to establish a national team. Yet in 2004, a 23-strong group of representatives of the Sri Lanka National Handball Team infiltrated an international tournament taking place in the suburb of Wittislingen, Bavaria. Unbeknownst to the German organisers, the squad had blagged their way into the contest, not with any view to compete, but with the audacious and outlandish plan to leave their harsh home lives behind in search of a better life.
From the outset then, Machan has that madcap air of the underdog about it that cinemagoers seem to find so irresistibly alluring. But Italian-born producer-turned-director Uberto Pasoliniís film is a lot more sobering than you might expect from such an overtly eccentric premise. In taking these menís plucky tale to a wider audience, Pasolini laces together an intricate narrative, bringing difficult social concerns to the fore with great care and optimism. The film has been widely hailed in its homeland, and itís not hard to see why. Much like The Full Monty, the film that offered Pasolini his producing break back in 1997, Machan foregrounds a group who occupy the margins of a society burdened by the constant strain of economic instability.
Disenchanted by the impossible problems afflicting their daily lives, Manoj (Gihan De Chickera) and Stanley (Dharmapriya Dias) chance upon a way out; an invitation to a handball tournament in Germany. Without much afterthought the pair submit an application, assemble a ragtag squad, and set their sights on the somewhat brighter lights of Bavaria. The assortment of friends, acquaintances and tagalongs (the cast themselves are a mixed bag of newcomers, non-professionals and established actors) intoxicated by the promise of greener pastures.
While Machan handles some delicate social issues, it does so with a sense of humour and frivolity. Rather than exaggerate the poverty that plagues our protagonists, Pasolini astutely conveys a more pragmatic realism. The consequences, of course, are much more serious for this zealous troupe, but what is so refreshing and uplifting about Pasoliniís vision is that he rarely dwells upon such shortcomings. Instead, the first time director eschews the maudlin mentality that is so easily resorted to when raising awareness of immigration. As such, while the groupís hardships are a continual reminder of the films moral motivations, Machan is never overly sentimental and never melodramatic, but brims with charm, compassion and ultimately hope.
- Adam Woodward / Little White Lies Magazine
Winner - Europa Cinemas Label, Venice International Film Festival 2008
Verdicts from the Midnight Court