9 September 2008, terribly early in the morning

The Film Festival has been great so far. I’ve seen five films, and I’ve enjoyed them all. I’ll write about them all at some point, but the film I watched yesterday was so good I felt compelled to say something this morning. If you have a chance, you should go see Machan. (It is playing once more before the film festival comes to a close.) Machan is the directorial debut of Italian producer Uberto Pasolini, who’s prior work includes the Full Monty. Machan has that same down on your luck dudes overcome adversity sort of feel. What’s particularly interesting is that this Italian director decided to set his first in Sri Lanka, with everyone speaking Sinhala. I asked the director how he ended up making a film in Sri Lanka of all places, and he said he read a little news clip in the paper about 23 Sri Lankans who arrived in Germany for a handball tournament, played and lost 3 games, and then disappeared into Europe: he knew he had to turn that story into a movie.

It’s a funny film. Two down on their luck Sri Lankan boys are trying to immigrate to Germany, legally, and failing spectacularly (because the West only wants the developing worlds Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, etc). When the pair learn of a handball tournament taking place in Germany, they hatch a plan to sneak into the country by pretending to the Sri Lankan National Handball Team. Though no such team exists, and none of them know how to play the game, they manage to muddle through. The movie is a light hearted look at some very serious topics: legal and illegal immigration, globalism, racism, the East/West divide. Pasolini manages to tackle these weighty topics without bogging the film down in too much drama. Machan does a good job of outlining what people are leaving behind when they come to wash dishes or clean office buildings in the West.

The Q&A that followed the film was great, primarily because Pasolini was a very engaging and funny speaker. Every screening I’ve been to thus far has featured some horribly ignorant question asked by some middle aged White lady in relation to the country the film was set in. Machan was no exception — it’s stupid question was essentially, “they have movies in Sri Lanka?” — but the director managed to turn that into an interesting discussion on how he opted out of using professional actors for much of the cast in the film. There was some discussion on the films name, how he managed to secure Italian, German, and Sri Lankan producers, and other interesting topics.

Machan was an excellent film. If you have a chance you should definitely watch it.



  1. Before yesterdays movie I was convinced no one could persuade me to ever go to another TIFF screening of any movie because of how poorly the Q&As are run. But this movie was the exception. I’ll see how bad Chocolate goes and decide then!

  2. I’ve been wanting to see this one — I didn’t get tickets for the festival screening but I hope it will be available here soon. Thanks for the review!

    [ed. edit out marketing pitch.]

  3. That sounds sort of like What Means Motley?, a semi-true story of a group of Romanians emigrating to Ireland by pretending to be a folk group.

  4. I wonder if there is a whole genre of visa-scam-comedy out there?

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