November 10, 2015

MAMI 2015: Epilogue

The morning of 6th November was a sad morning. When MAMI ends, it is always depressing. Everything feels dull. And the heart longs for more of that madness. This time I was sadder than ever. However, there is a reason why the festival must end. Not only there is a limit to one's mental and physical exhaustion, there is work to do. Watching all these films during this week inspires and humbles you at the same time. And it is important that you use this feeling to create something. Perhaps for the first time in all seven editions of this festival, I started work on the very first morning. A New Year has begun for me. And despite the sadness, life goes on. It must.

My first MAMI was in 2009. The seven editions of the festival have made me watch 217 movies. For the record, here is the breakup: 2009 (34), 2010 (27), 2011 (28), 2012 (31), 2013 (33), 2014 (33), and 2015 (31). An average of 31 movies per festival. That sounds reasonably good.

So as we wait for MAMI 2016, which begins on the 20th of October, here are my recommendations from this year's festival. I have divided the recommendations into four categories. Read on to know why.

Despite watching several good movies, I could not watch some which generated very strong response from the audience. So I'm recommending these films based on what I heard: 

  • Land and Shade (2015/ Colombia) by Cesar Augusto Acevedo: Camera d'Or winner at Cannes
  • Room (2015/ Canada-Ireland) by Lenny Abrahamson: People's Choice Award at Toronto
  • Taxi (2015/ Iran) by Jafar Panahi: Golden Bear winner at Berlin

Now, let me talk about those that I did see. Following are the movies which may be difficult to watch and those not exposed to the diversity of world cinema may not be able to endure it. But these are unique and highly rewarding experiences and I must recommend them:
  • Aferim! (2015/ Romania) by Radu Jude: a dark comedy cum road movie with a difference
  • Arabian Nights: Vol. 1, 2 and 3 (2015/ Portugal) by Miguel Gomes: extremely painful to watch with its runtime of 6 hours and 20 minutes but it is unlikely you will ever see anything like this
  • The Assassin (2015/ Taiwan) by Hou Hsiao-Hsien: very difficult to watch but once you get what the director is trying to do, you will enjoy it
  • Blood of My Blood (2015/ Italy) by Marco Bellocchio: weird, to say the least, but unforgettable
  • The Forbidden Room (2015/ Canada) by Guy Maddin: one of the most bizarre, self-indulgant and unique films ever made and, if you can bear it, one of the most entertaining

Then there were movies fairly accessible to a film-festival audience, but perhaps not that easy-to-watch for the uninitiated. Here goes the recommendation:
  • The Lobster (2015/ Ireland-UK-Greece-France-Netherlands) by Yorgos Lanthimos: brilliant concept and a sharp satire
  • My Mother (2015/ Italy) by Nanni Moretti: effortlessly moving, this movie is an understated masterpiece
  • Right Now, Wrong Then (2015/ South Korea) by Hong Sangsoo: unique structure and exceptional performances
  • Sleeping Giant (2015/ Canada) by Andrew Cividino: superbly entertaining and heartbreaking coming-of-age movie
  • Victoria (2015/ Germany) by Sebastian Schipper: the latest wonder in cinema
  • Youth (2015/ Italy) by Paolo Sorrentino: entertaining, insightful and pleasurable at every level

And then, there were some which are definite crowd-pleasers. If you love cinema, of any kind, it is likely that you will enjoy these movies. Reacting to these with hundreds of cinephiles will remain etched in my memory forever:
  • 45 Years (2015/ UK) by Andrew Haigh: a subdued but brilliant drama, more relatable than most movies
  • Anomalisa (2015/ USA) by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson: inventive and yet relatable
  • The Brand New Testament (2015/ Belgium) by Jaco Van Dormael: my favourite movie this year, more joyful, wonderful, beautiful, insightful and hopeful than most movies you have ever seen.
  • Microbe and Gasoline (2015/ France) by Michel Gondry: supremely endearing movie on teenage life and friendship
  • The Second Mother (2015/ Brazil) by Anna Muylaert: my second favourite movie of the festival, the balance of plot, performances, and emotions is perfect. 


  1. The two other films you have not mentioned are: "Mina Walking", a film shot with handheld camera, mostly hidden, tells the poignant story of a young girl "Mina". The second one is "Don't Tell Me the Boy Is Mad", a French Armenian film.

    Amlan Dash

  2. Thanks for these recommendations Amlan Sir. Will try to watch these if possible! :)

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