I didn't do much on Thursday other than check in, get my press pass, and crash hard to catch up on sleep. Friday, though, brought the press meeting, after which we got to choose from one of two Patron screenings: The Band's Visit, which won the jury award at Cannes (I plan to catch it later during the fest) and Trikal: Past, Present, Future, a rarely seen film by Telluride Tribute honoree Shyam Benegal. I opted for the latter, figuring I might never get another chance to see it; also, it was described as a melodrama, and what's more fun that Indian melodrama? The film is interesting also because it's set in Goa, on India's west coast, a region that was under Portugese occupation for many years, and therefore has a culture very different from the rest of India; the film is in Hindi and Portugese with subtitles. In fact, Benegal mentioned when he was introducing the film that when it came out, the Indian press said, "Benegal has made a foreign film!"
The film is about a wealthy Goan family in 1961, around the time when India "liberated" the colony from 450 years of Portugese rule. The film thus, from a historical standpoint, shows a slice of unique Indian culture not often seen in film. True to what we'd heard of the film, it was indeed a melodrama, complete with an emphatic and occasionally oppressive musical score, fainting women, seduction, and ghosts of betrayed rebels haunting the house where they were murdered. The film won Best Director for Benegal at the 1986 National Film Awards in India, but today, it's rather hard to find, at least in a print of this quality. It was a rare chance to see a unique film, and I was glad I chose to hit it -- one of the joys of Telluride is discovering gems of films you may never see elsewhere.
More about Trikal and Opening Day, plus a photo gallery, after the jump ...