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THRONE OF DEATH

India, 1999 (MIFF 2000, International Panorama)

Director: Murali Nair

Winner of the Camera d'Or at Cannes, Throne of Death is a darkly comic and provocative examination of politics, technology and human nature. Krishnan, a seasonal worker, and his family five in a small island community in Kerala, Southern India. Out of work and desperate, Krishnan steals a bunch of coconuts from his landlord. Arrested and thrown into jail, events take a strange twist when he is accused of an unsolved murder. It is election time and Krishnan is seen as a cause celebre and a way for politicians to gain votes. Meanwhile, the latest in execution technology is being introduced: the Electric Chair. Developed with a loan from the World Bank, with expert help from America, the race is on for the 'honour' of hosting the first execution. The politicians, spurred on by the villagers, enact their compassion towards Krishnan by announcing plans for his painless and 'glorious' death. Throne of Death evokes a sense of life's futility rather than anguish, bitter humour rather than sadness. Director Murafi Nair embodies the grand storytelling tradition of Keralan filmmaking.

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