Nana Patekar, Venkatesh Chavan, Jhangir Badshah, Ayesha Mohan, Malcom Faria
Chris Smith, Randy Russell, Kate Noble, Barry Poltermann, Didier Leplae, Joe Wong, Biri Sodhi, Xavier Leplae, Chris Thompson
A filmmaker who returns to Sundance in a new guise is a familiar-enough occurrence, but to return with gifts as unique as Chris Smith reveals in The Pool is rare in any year. In the same vein as his latest documentary work, Smith's creative acumen focuses on the gulf between the rich and poor, sharing insights, observations, poignancy, and truth in a deceptively simple narrative.
The Pool is the story of Venkatesh, a "room boy" working at a hotel in Panjim, Goa, who sees from his perch in a mango tree a luxuriant garden and shimmering pool hidden behind a wall. In making whatever efforts he can to better himself, Venkatesh offers his services to the wealthy owner of the home. Not content simply to dream about a different life, Venkatesh is inquisitive about the home's inhabitants, and his curiosity changes the shape of his future.
Remarkably cogent and affecting, this is inspired storytelling distinctive for its ability to transmit a complete worldview in just a phrase or brief conversation. Working in Hindi with young actors in a country obviously not his own, Smith has nevertheless created a superbly incisive portrait that will take its place on a global stage.