Fri, Aug 03, 2007 - Page 17 News List

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AGENCIES

A seen from Gandhi My Father.

PHOTO: AP

German director Wim Wenders joined other friends and family mourning the late Italian movie director Michelangelo Antonioni at his funeral yesterday in his northern hometown of Ferrara.

Fans and film lovers filled the piazza outside the church where the funeral was held to honor the celebrated filmmaker, who died Monday at the age of 94. Antonioni, along with Federico Fellini, helped turn postwar Italian cinema toward a personal cinema exploring imagination. His films included such classics as L'Avventura, Blow-Up and Zabriskie Point. Antonioni will be buried next to his parents in the Certosa cemetery.

A new film on Mohandas Gandhi, which looks at the troubled relationship of the Indian pacifist icon with his son, drew tears from his relatives and has sparked renewed interest in the man's life.

Gandhi My Father, to be released worldwide today, delves into the painful relationship between Gandhi and his eldest son Harilal, whom he eventually disowned.

The film explores the strains within the family as Gandhi, emerging as a world leader, tries to reconcile his principles with the needs of his son, said Feroz Abbas Khan, the film's director.

"Gandhi reinvented this nation. When you become that big, there are relationships that don't work and wounds that take time to heal," Khan said.

The film details Gandhi's refusal to further his son's career or help him get a scholarship to study abroad because he believed he should treat all people equally.

"The core theme is a child's aspiration and how you reconcile this with a father's principles,'' said Khan, a former theater director making his first film.

Set against the backdrop of Gandhi's rise to prominence in South Africa, where he first established his principles of Satyagraha, or passive resistance, the film moves to India where he applied these principles in the struggle to win independence from British colonialists - earning him the name Mahatma, or Great Soul. It follows a rebellious Harilal converting to Islam, reconverting to Hinduism and finally his descent into alcoholism.

Khan chose little-known theater actor Darshan Jariwala to play Gandhi. To replicate Gandhi's thin frame he shed 20kg through a regimen of diet and yoga. Well-known Bollywood actor Akshaye Khanna plays Harilal.

The film has been hailed by his descendants as a rare movie that humanizes Gandhi.

Con Air director Simon West has started shooting a movie about the World War II-era massacre of thousands of Chinese by Japanese troops, the third feature film to coincide with the event's 70th anniversary, a publicist said yesterday.

The US$53 million US-Chinese co-production tentatively called Purple Mountain kicked off shooting Wednesday, with filming mainly taking place on sets in Nanjing at the site of the killings, publicist Wang Chen said.

Chen declined to reveal the cast. He said shooting is scheduled to finish late this year or early next year.

Historians generally agree the Japanese army slaughtered at least 150,000 civilians and raped tens of thousands of women in the rampage in Nanjing in 1937. The event became known as The Rape of Nanking, using the name by which the city was then known in the West.

Other than Purple Mountain, two other movies about the massacre have surfaced this year. Hong Kong director Yim Ho (嚴浩) is planning the US$35 million Nanking Xmas 1937. Up-and-coming Chinese director Lu Chuan plans to shoot the US$10.6 million Nanking! Nanking! Both Yim's and West's movies revolve around civilian foreign expatriates who shielded Nanjing locals from Japanese brutality. The plot of Lu's movie hasn't been announced.

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