Tigers: crying out against the cruelty of capitalism
by Alfonso Rivera
- With his new film, Bosnian director Danis Tanovic continues to rail against the injustice and abuse that the weakest and most disadvantaged people in the world are subjected to
Danis Tanovic is attending the San Sebastián Film Festival for the fourth time, shortly after presenting Tigers [+see also:
film profile] at Toronto; in addition, his Oscar-winning No Man’s Land [+see also:
film profile] is part of the appealing and well-populated Eastern Promises retrospective at the event. And he has turned up with another hard-hitting piece of ammunition, as his films tend to be; in this case, one that rails thunderously against the atrocities committed by our capitalist system, which allows the big, all-powerful multinationals to toy with not only our health, but also our children’s lives.
This is a project whose seed was sown eight years ago, when one of the producers (Tigers has funding from France, the UK and India) offered Tanovic a story that, after being polished thanks to a screenplay written by the director together with Andy Paterson, has now seen the light of day in cinematic form. But this length of time has been essential in order to demonstrate that the tale being told is a true story, based on what happened to a Pakistani man (played here by Indian actor Emraan Hashmi), a salesman of national pharmaceutical products, who started to work for a food multinational. But when he discovered that the powdered milk the firm was selling was causing the death of many babies, he embarked on a crusade to bring an end to this cruelty, leading to some serious consequences for the man himself.
Tanovic uses a simple style without overdramatising (the events themselves are already harsh enough), although he makes use of distressing images of real malnourished children from a documentary by Australian network ABC, taken in 1989. Shot in India, Tigers starts off like a pleasant Bollywood film and comes to a bitter conclusion in Toronto. Because a damning movie as serious and as necessary as this leaves no room whatsoever for smiles, and not even – as we discover day after day in the newspapers – for hope in a capitalist world that does everything in its power to enable (the lucky few) people to get rich quick.
The film thus focuses entirely on making the viewer familiar with an unacceptable situation, albeit at the risk of feeling almost as explicit as a documentary: even its development process is captured on screen through the inclusion of scenes in which the producers question the truthfulness of what they are about to depict. These moments are incorporated within the plot itself, as if the makers are playing around with laying bare the movie’s meticulous construction and, above all, making it clear that the fears involved in making it (owing to concerns about complaints by the above-mentioned corporations) have resulted in a long, drawn-out production process.
The images that Tanovic shows us prove that we live in a world ruled by selfishness, in which multinationals harangue their employees to turn them into roaring tigers who are not afraid of dismembering their victims: customers who are nothing more than statistics used to top up their bank accounts. Tigers may not be the best film at this edition of San Sebastián artistically speaking, but it is certainly one of the bravest, raising its voice to increase awareness of something that, unfortunately, is still happening right now, not too far away.
(Translated from Spanish)