The Last Mango Before the Monsoon
Elliptical sequences combine to form a filmic tone poem: the expanded sense of time during a rural summer dusk; the trudging of two scientists who place cameras in the forest for animal observation; watercolours that float atop the landscape; a woman yearning for her late husband. Ever-present clouds drift above the forest valley and back across a city.
The Last Mango Before The Monsoon
An introduction from filmmaker Payal Kapadia
The Last Mango Before The Monsoon
The Last Mango Before the Monsoon has no central character, narrative arc or clear progression. Its scenes are non-linear and flow freely into one another. Rather than being a weakness, this is precisely the film’s strength. The film is perhaps the first clear example in Kapadia’s filmography of how sound can lead the process of image-making, with densely layered aural textures and tones melding together to enhance the vibrancy of environments they are placed overtop of.
The film begins with the image enveloped in darkness, as an old woman eats the titular mango in a barely-visible, dimly-lit living space. But darkness in Kapadia’s films does not play to our typical associations of darkness in cinema (such as menace, terror or the unknown). Paradoxically, some thoughts become more clear in the dark, as the masking of light can be at best a revelation or at the worst barely a hindrance. Captured by the scientists’ video camera, an elephant effortlessly steps over a large tree trunk, its eyes glinting in night vision but its forward momentum unceasing.
So too does the nighttime and darkness induce the woman’s lucid memory of her husband towards the end of the film. In conversation with her daughter, she recalls a scene from the village, just before the monsoon: “He stood at the edge of the forest and called out to me.” Earlier in the film, we saw a man standing in the dark field, and the woman’s invocation of this image provides a linkage—whether in real time, as a memory or as a dream—vaulting the viewer backward to their own memory of the film’s earlier scene. —Herb Shellenberger
Payal Kapadia is a Mumbai based filmmaker and artist. She studied Film Direction at the Film & Television Institute of India.
Her work deals with that which is not easily visible, hidden somewhere in the folds of memory and dreams. It is between minor, ephemeral feminine gestures where she tries to find the truth that makes up her practice.
Her film Afternoon Clouds premiered at Cinefondation, (Cannes film Festival, 2017). Her experimental documentary And What is the Summer Saying had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale Shorts, 2018). It went on to receive the Special Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (2018).
Kapadia’s experimental short The Last Mango Before Monsoon was premiered at Oberhausen International Film Festival (2015), where she was awarded FIPRESCI Prize and Special Jury Prize. The film received other awards including awards like Best Film and Best Editing at Mumbai International Film Festival (2016), and Special Mention at Filmadrid.
Presently Payal is working on making her first feature film All We Imagine as Light which she developed at the Cinefondation Cannes Residency (2019-20). It is supported by the Hubert Bals Script and Project Development Fund
The Last Mango Before the Monsoon, 2015
Afternoon Clouds, 2017
And What is the Summer Saying, 2018
Dialogue LanguagesMalayalam Marathi Tamil