The 17th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival, popularly referred to as 'MAMI' after the Mumbai Academy Of Moving Images (rechristened 'Jio MAMI' this year at the behest of its title sponsors), promises to be a treat for film-lovers in India like never before. To be held in Mumbai from October 29 to November 5, the festival (which was revived by a dedicated team that includes filmmaker Kiran Rao and film critic Anupama Chopra) promises a spectacular offering of films from all around the world as well as a number of masterclasses and events that seek to make the event more accessible.
In a press conference at a South Mumbai hotel, the team behind this year's festival announced some of its major highlights, and what was most evident were the distinct changes that have been made under the new leadership. For instance, the Lifetime Achievement Award has been renamed the Excellence In Cinema award this year, and will be presented to Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai and Hindi film screenwriters Salim-Javed. Tributes will also be paid to French filmmaker Agnès Varda, a luminary of the French New Wave movement, as well as Indian filmmaker Chetan Anand, the first ever recipient of the Palme d'Or for his film Neecha Nagar (1946).
Meanwhile, a number of new sidebar events that will add to the festival-goer experience this year look promising, such as a Bollywood extravaganza called the MAMI Movie Mela. A one-day event to be held at Mehboob Studio, Bandra, on October 31, this section will feature masterclasses by the likes of actor Rishi Kapoor as well as one by PK and 3 Idiots writers Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani (who also directed both films).
Other new additions include Half Ticket (a section of children's films from around the world to be adjudged by a jury of children under the age of 15, much like the Generation KPlus section in Berlin), After Dark (which will showcase films belonging to the horror, thriller, and sci-fi genres), India Story (which includes films that celebrate the diversity of India), and Experimental Cinema (which is self-explanatory).
Aside from this, there will be a separate section showcasing the best documentaries from around the world curated by the team behind Toronto's renowned documentary film festival Hot Docs, generally acknowledged as one of the best of its kind in the world. Also, in an attempt to give young filmmakers some traction, a one-day film market called Mumbai Film Mart will connect them with distributors, sales agents, and studio reps from around the world.
Here is a look at some of the international films playing this year that aficionados cannot afford to miss:
1. The Assassin (Taiwan)
2. Taxi (Iran)
Iranian master Jafar Panahi, currently under house arrest and facing a 20-year ban on filmmaking, returned this year with this docu-drama that features him driving a taxi on the streets of Teheran and interacting with passengers via a hidden camera. Taxi won the Golden Bear at Berlin earlier this year.
3. Dheepan (France)
Acclaimed filmmaker Jacques Audiard won the prestigious Golden Palm at Cannes this year for this drama about three Sri Lankan refugees who flee their country for France.
4. Right Now, Wrong Then (South Korea)
Award-winning Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo's tale, in which an arthouse filmmaker and a painter meet and spend the same day together twice, won two top prizes at Locarno a few months ago, including the Golden Leopard.
5. The Lobster (Ireland, United Kingdom, Greece, France, Netherlands)
Winner of this year's Cannes Jury Prize, The Lobster is an English and French film directed by award-winning Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth). Described by Variety as "a wickedly funny, unexpectedly moving satire of couple-fixated society", the film also boasts of a stellar cast that includes Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, and John C Reilly.
6. From Afar (Venezuela)
Directed by first-time filmmaker Lorenzo Vigas, From Afar was a "surprise winner" at this year's Venice International Film Festival, scooping up the Golden Lion. A story about a 50-year-old man who pays young men to give him company, it was hailed by Variety as "one of Latin American cinema’s more auspicious arrivals of recent years".
For the complete list of all films playing at the 17th Mumbai Film Festival, head here.