"Printed Rainbow" A Mother and Her Cat By Cristina Corciovescu

in 51st Valladolid International Film Festival

by Cristina Corciovescu

For more than 50 years, the Film Festival of Valladolid has been a place to discover film treasures. This year the selection of short films was an exquisite experience with a lot of excellent movies such as Tradition by Peter Ladkani (Germany), Rosa by William Sten Olsson (USA), Drake by Christoph Rainer (Austria), The Dance Lesson (La leçon de danse) by Philippe Prouff and The Dinner (Le diner) by Cécile Vernant (both from France).

However, the main jury awarded two truly flawless films with a Golden Spike: Printed Rainbow by Gitanjali Rao from India and Sooner or Later (Elöbb-Utobb) by István Madarász from Hungary. The Hungarian short film is cryptic. It shows great ambition of in-depth analysis without being able to fulfill them completely.

Gitanjali Rao’s short film Printed Rainbow is an animated cartoon of extreme tenderness with delicacy and depth. It’s about an old lady with a round face like a full moon and round black-rimmed spectacles. Her white hair is tightened into a bun on the back of her head, and she wears a black dress. She lives in an apartment house together with a cat which is also black and white.

In the morning, the old lady does her house chores, while the neighbors across the street, seen through the open windows, are dealing with their own problems. When she finishes work, the old woman opens a casket with her collection of match-boxes. They are the only drop of color in the black and white universe of the movie. Each box carries a luxurious landscape, into which the old woman merrily steps to live in this other world, a happier and colorful world somewhere else.

Every day she explores a new world always returning to her flat and her cat. But one day the white-beard gentleman, who is visiting her in order to exchange the match-boxes, finds both dead, the old lady and the cat. He takes a closer look into the casket with the match-boxes and now he sees the old lady happily smiling in a friendly landscape waving goodbye.

The formal solutions are remarkable. For example, the black and white scenes in the beginning are not clear-cut. The director uses various shades of gray to avoid the impression of a depressing and dull daily life. The image of the heroine is multiplied to underline how she hurries with her daily chores, as a compulsory prelude to the opening of the charmed casket. Once the box is open, the black and white figure turns into colors. The classic symbolism of colors is reversed with the old lady wearing black while sitting in the kitchen and wearing a red dress when she leaves for the other world.

The panoramic display of the neighboring houses has the role of both diversifying the austere quasi-robotic human landscape and introducing the gentleman with the white beard who always is nice to the lady. His appearance is not hieratic by chance he is the liaison agent between the two worlds.

Printed Rainbow is a superb meditation about escaping to dreams and then into death. The Indian director Gitanjali Rao was born in 1972 and graduated from the Institute of Applied Art in Mumbai. She is a self taught animator. Her short film Orange (2002) already won many awards. Printed Rainbow is on the same road to success with four prizes earned at its premiere at the Critic’s Week in Cannes. The Indian director dedicates the movie to her mother who also owned a cat.