Pasolini’s Machan wins hearts on the Lido
by Natasha Senjanovic
Machan [+see also:
film profile], the feature debut by producer-turned-director Uberto Pasolini (Palookaville, The Full Monty), screened to a full house and a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival today. Based on a true story, the film recounts the trials and tribulations of 23 Sri Lankan men who created a phony handball team in order to participate in a Bavarian tournament and escape to Europe. Combining humour and drama, it hit all right buttons with the audience.
Pasolini, nephew of Luchino Visconti, says the project came about as a result of “arrogance, production and luck.” The latter came in the form of a newspaper article he happened to read the day that a Hollywood blockbuster he was working on in Australia fell through after seven months of preparations. Machan was originally intended for another director, but, says Pasolini, “after developing the project for six months, I was too in love with it to hand it over to someone else and arrogant enough to think that I could do it myself.”
With co-screenwriter Ruwanthie De Chickera and Sri Lankan producer Prasanna Vithanage he achieved authenticity by constructing not only the story directly around the experiences and difficulties of the people he met on the streets of Colombo, but also the characters and most of the dialogue. The film is spoken in English and Sinhala and features a cast of almost entirely non-professionals, with the exception of locally renowned actor Mahendra Perera, who accompanied the film on the Lido with co-star Dharmapriya Dias.
Perera corroborated the authenticity and said of the director: “He came close to our emotions and our culture. He almost became a Sri Lankan!” In addressing the fact that Pasolini speaks no Sinhala, Dias added: “Language was not a problem because this film is about human emotions.”
Machan’s €2m budget came from a co-production between Italy’s Studio urania, Germany’s Babelsberg Film and Shakthi Films of Sri Lanka. It received further support from Eurimages, the MEDIA Programme and RAI Cinema.
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