On Thursday evening, seven days and more than 200 films later, the 17th edition of the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival came to an end. A glittering, star-studded ceremony held in Bandra announced the names of the winners of the fest, which saw a record turnout of 7000 delegates (said to be the highest ever in 16 years) this time around.
The International Competition's highest honour, the Golden Gateway, went to debutant director Jayro Bustamante for the Guatemalan film Ixcanul Volcano, while the Silver Gateway went to Mirlan Abdykalykov for the Kyrgyz film Heavenly Nomadic. A Jury Grand Prize was awarded to Raam Reddy's Kannada debut Thithi.
Raam Reddy (right) accepting his award for 'Thithi'
In the India Gold section, Gurvinder Singh's Chauthi Koot swept the top prize, while Shlok Sharma's Haraamkhor (starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Shweta Tripathi) took second place.
Gurvinder Singh accepting his award for 'Chauthi Koot'
The special guest of the evening was Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who struck a sombre note speaking about the problems plaguing the Valley, said Mumbai Mirror. Earlier, the festival's chairperson Kiran Rao acknowledged that the festival had been plagued by logistical issues, but promised to make up for all the shortcomings at next year's festival, which is slated to be held from October 20 to 27, 2016.
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed speaking at the closing ceremony
Here is the final list of winners:
Golden Gateway Award for International Competition: Volcano by Jayro Bustamante
Silver Gateway Award for International Competition: Heavenly Nomadic by Mirlan Abdykalykov
Jury Grand Prize for International Competition: Thithi by Raam Reddy
Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Directing: Cesar Augusto Acevedo, Land And Shade
Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Acting: Maria Telon of Volcano
Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Acting: Farzana Nawabi of Mina Walking
Special Jury Mention for Ensemble: Sleeping Giant (Jackson Martin, Reese Moffat, Nick Serino)
Special Jury Mention for Achievement in Screenwriting: Chloe Zhao for Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Golden Gateway Award for India Gold: Chauthi Koot by Gurvinder Singh
Silver Gateway Award for India Gold: Haraamkhor by Shlok Sharma
Jury Special Prize for India Gold: An Illusion of My Mind/Mor Mann Ke Bharam by Karma Takapa, Heer Ganjwala and Abhishek Varma
Golden Gateway Award for Children's Feature: Ottal
Silver Gateway Award for Children's Feature: Operation Category
Special mention for Acting: Hetal Gada and Krrish Chhabria
Special Mention for Direction: Morgan Matthews for X + Y
Golden Gateway for Children’s Short: Dina Velikovskaya for Pro Mamu (About a Mother)
Silver Gateway for Children’s Short: Olga Poliektova and Tatiana Poliektova for My Grandfather Was a Cherry Tree
Jury Special Mention for Direction: Mari Sanders for Daan Durft (Go Daan Go!)
Excellence in writing in Cinema Award: Gaata Rahe Mera Dil by Balaji Vittal and Anirudha Bhattacharjee
Film for Social Impact Award by Yes Foundation: Jayaraj for Ottal
Young Critics Choice Award: Kaul
Audience Choice Award: Taxi
Silver Gateway Dimensions Mumbai Award: The Voice by Disha Noyonika Rindani
Golden Gateway Dimensions Mumbai Award: Kunal by Dhruv Saigal
Special Mentions for Dimensions Mumbai: I Shall Bow by Vedanti Chandrakant Dani
Meanwhile, the final day of screenings turned out to be the best for many, who caught up with some of the bigger films that they'd missed during the fest. I ended up watching only two films: Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo's Locarno-winning Right Now, Wrong Then and German heist thriller Victoria.
The first, a light-hearted 'what if' rom-com, in which an acclaimed arthouse director (Jung Jae-young) attempts to woo Hee-jung (Kim Min-hee) a young woman he's just met over the course of one evening — only we see two versions of that evening. This is familiar nudge-nudge-wink-wink territory for the Korean auteur, who delights in pitting subtle narcissism against insecurity, and comes up with an often-delightful study of what makes people tick. It's also remarkable how similar this was thematically to Anomalisa, one of my favourite films at this year's festival.
Victoria was my final film of the fest and, wow, what a way to go. A breathless joyride that features one single take lasting roughly two hours and 18 minutes, this German production takes us through the underbelly of Berlin, with its all-night club scene and adventurous spirit. Victoria (Laia Costa), a young Spanish exchange student, is shown partying on her own before running into a group of boisterous guys looking to have a great time.
Those who have experienced the hedonistic side of Berlin will find it easier to swallow Victoria's seemingly foolhardy choice to spend quality time with men she has just met, particularly since she is shown taking a fancy to Sonne (Frederick Lau). Much of the film, which reportedly had a 12-page script, was improvised by the actors and a lot of the dialogue is in English. Victoria shifts gears in its second half as the proceedings get darker and hinges somewhat precariously on the audience's acceptance of a difficult-to-believe choice made by the lead character; however, if one buys it, then the film is nothing short of incredible.
Phew. Let the post-MAMI blues begin.