October 07, 2015

Mumbai Film Festival 2015: A Look at the Line-Up

A few hours ago, the line-up of the films playing at this year's Mumbai Film Festival was released. I spent all the time after that to go through the list, read about these movies and the filmmakers, and to kick-start my eager wait for this year's festival that opens in the last week of October. The festival we wait for all year long is back. And it is time to take a look at the movies that will be playing this time:

OSCAR ENTRIES: With India's submission 'Court' generating a mostly positive sentiment among our film-folks, it is important to judge the level of competition for the Oscars this year. There are dozens of films that come as official entries from their respective countries. Nine of them will be playing at our festival this year: 
  • Romania's 'Aferim!' that also was a joint winner of Director prize at Berlin, 
  • Portugal's 'Arabian Nights: Volume 2' that will be playing with two other films of its trilogy,
  • Taiwan's 'The Assassin' that won Director prize at Cannes for the legendary Hsiao-Hsien Hou,
  • Chile's 'The Club' that won Grand Jury Prize at Berlin and is the latest film by Pablo Larrain (director of 'No')
  • Brazil's 'The Second Mother' that won awards at Berlin and Sundance
  • Belgium's 'The Brand New Testament' 
  • Ethiopia's 'Lamb'
  • Kyrgyztan's 'Heavenly Nomadic'
  • Guatemala's 'Ixcanul Volcano' that won the Alfred Bauer Prize at Berlin for opening "new perspectives on cinematic art".
The last two movies are first films of their respective directors and hence also in Official Competition at Mumbai Film Festival. It should be noted that Jordan's entry this year, 'Theeb', played at last year's festival, as did 'Court'.

WINNERS AT RECENT FESTIVALS: The top prize winners of this year's Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Locarno are all playing at our festival this year. I don't remember when did this happen last. This by itself is something that should make our curators proud. Following are the top winners at recent international festivals that feature in the list:
  • 'Dheepan' that won Palme d'Or at Cannes this year is the latest film by Jacques Audiard ('A Prophet' and 'Rust and Bone')
  • 'From Afar' is this year's Golden Lion winner at Venice
  • 'Taxi' that won Golden Bear at Berlin this year is the latest by Jafar Panahi
  • 'Right Now, Wrong Then' is the Golden Leopard winner at Locarno this year
  • 'The Pearl Button' is the winner of Best Script at Berlin
  • 'Body (Cialo)' is the joint-winner of Director prize at Berlin with aforementioned 'Aferim!'
  • 'Chronic' won the Screenplay award at Cannes
  • 'Land and Shade' won Camera d'Or at Cannes and is also in competition
  • '45 Years' won Best Actor and Best Actress awards at Berlin
  • 'Blood of My Blood' won FIPRESCI Prize at Venice
  • 'Virgin Mountain' won Best Narrative Feature, Screenplay, and Actor at Tribeca

THE LATEST FILMS BY BIG NAMES: Apart from the films of Hsiao-Hsein Hou, Pablo Larrain, Jacques Audiard, and Jafar Panahi, the festival will also screen the latest works of Paolo Sorrentino ('Youth'), Atom Egoyan ('Remember'), Nanni Moretti ('My Mother'), Jia Zhang-ke ('Mountains May Depart'), Yorgos Lanthimos ('The Lobster'), Arnaud Desplechin ('My Golden Days'), Michel Gondry ('Microbe and Gasoline'), Philippe Garrel ('In the Shadow of Women'), Christopher Doyle ('Hong Kong Trilogy'), Terence Davies ('Sunset Song'), Noah Baumbach ('Mistress America'), Paul Thomas Anderson ('Junun' - a documentary), Charlie Kaufman ('Anomalisa') and Aleksandr Sokurov ('Francofonia').

CLASSICS: Satyajit's Ray's 'The Apu Trilogy', Ritwik Ghatak's 'Komal Gandhar', Guru Dutt's 'Pyasaa', MS Sathyu's 'Garam Hava' and Eiichi Yamamoto's 1973 Japanese Animation 'Belladonna of Sadness' will be screened under the section 'Restored Classics'. Then there are 'Special Screenings' of Jacques Becker's 'Montparnasse 19' (1958) and Claude Lelouch's double Oscar-winner 'A Man and a Woman' (1966). We will also look forward to Agnes Varda ('Cleo from 5 to 7', 'Vagabond' and 'The Gleaners and I') and Chetan Anand retrospectives ('Neecha Nagar', 'Haqeeqat', and 'Heer Ranjha').

DOCUMENTARIES ON CINEMA: Documentaries on the lives and careers of Sidney Lumet ('By Sidney Lumet'), Ingrid Bergman ('Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words'), and Jia Zhang-ke ('Jia Zhang-ke: A Guy from Fenyang') will be played. The last film is directed by the Brazilian great Walter Salles who made 'Central Station' (1998) and 'The Motorcycle Diaries' (2004).

AND MORE... 'Thithi' the debut film by my friend Raam Reddy, which won two awards at Locarno this year, will also play in competition. And then there is a film called 'The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers'. Isn't the title good enough a reason to not miss this one! I also expect some more films will be announced in the days leading to the festival. I will update this post as and when it happens. Until then, let us rejoice - MAMI is back and how!

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