The ever-developing concept of love in its varied forms—from familial to lust-driven—makes for a frequent film topic. Rarely, however, do filmmakers elevate the discussion and advance our awareness of the concept. Madly, which debuted yesterday as part of the International Narrative Competition at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival does, however. Structurally, the feature is composed of six short films, each with a different director. Further, each short film was shot in a different country and tackles a distinct relationship type. This offers several swipes at international tales of love, but under the watch of executive producer Nusrat Durrani (who also conceived the project), there is a uniform message: all love, common and uncommon, challenges each individual involved.
“We are increasingly becoming a global society,” Durrani explains to CH. “Borders and ideas are porous. With the advent of social media and digital technology, we are a closer community.” This global ideology guided the filmmaker in Madly’s creation, with love as the connective tissue. He continues, “From films of the past 10 years or so, there really hasn’t been anything that allows a free form expression or articulation of what love means in the 21st century—around the world. What we might see as a very normal or acceptable type of relationship might be perceived as sacrilege in another culture.”
Durrani worked with a producer to assemble all the talent. Each director is notable in their own right, but names like Gael García Bernal (who addresses the impact of pregnancy on a relationship in Argentina) and Sebastian Silva (whose Bronx tale is about coming out while being raised in a religious family) certainly add allure. Durrani’s reasoning for each selection is apparent: “We went about it quite methodically, and yet on the other hand, it was our passion and vision that drove our choices. We wanted these films to be director’s films—films that the director would want to make.” He culled through a list of 70 directors he wanted to work with, reached out to them and 18 months later, Madly was completed.
In addition to Argentina and America, shoots took place in India, Japan, the UK and Australia. “Each director brought their own magic, demystifying certain countries where we never knew what happens there surrounding love,” Durrani notes, while also acknowledging that in the West, we do tend to have a one dimensional view of the world. The film humanizes; it adds dimension. There is relevance and resonance but also a bit of enlightenment. From Japanese sex clubs to Mia Wasikowska’s exploration of postpartum depression, knowledge is gained along the way.
With such a diversity of vision at play, one of Durrani’s most challenging tasks was arranging all six moving parts. “We agonized over the sequencing of the film,” he says. “We could only do it at the end, even though we knew what the directors were creating and we were closely following the process. You can only know what feelings and emotions each evokes at the end.” Each short—or really, each world—begins with an introduction to the city. It sets a tone and lays the landscape. Beyond the threads of love as a theme, music also plays an important roll, uniting fundamental emotions across all shorts. “It can be challenging to jump from mood to mood,” Durrani concludes, “So we wanted to draw the audience into the world, and guide them through it rather than take them on a rollercoaster ride.” The film isn’t jarring to watch from a structural standpoint, but it does provoke plenty of thought and takes viewers on a journey worth embarking upon.
“Madly” will screen four more times during the festival, up until 23 April. Tickets are available online.
Trailer and stills courtesy of Nusrat Durrani