When Philippino director Brillante Mendoza walked home with the best director award for his fllm Kinatay at the Cannes film Festival 2009, he knew he had the world looking at him. “I started getting calls from producers all over the world. I knew I had it— recognition.” Mendoza feels that Cannes will always be a bigger form for filmmakers because it’s been on for a long time now. And so does Vimukthi Jayasundara, a Sri Lankan filmmaker, who says, “It’s almost a spiritual space because everything in cinema in at Cannes. It has a past that’s enriching so it’s more than a festival really.”
But both the filmmakers agree that despite being relatively new, the Mumbai Film Festival has garnered worldwide attention and appreciation for its efforts. Jayasundara says, “You cannot really compare this festival to the rest of the international festivals across the world because it’s still young. But it has a strong potential to become a massively important forum.”
Both the jury members love the Bollywood style of filmmaking. Mendoza gushes, “Even in Philippines, our cinema has a lot to do with drama, music and dance. It’s an essential part of the culture and you can’t really separate that sort of a thing from Bollywood either.” Jayasundara claims to have grown up watching Bollywood films. “It’s a great thing to see people enjoy both kinds of films— art as well as commercial. Earlier, people who’d watch world cinema would look down on those who watched mainstream cinema. That distinction has been blurred now,” he explains.
Jayasundara also points out that a lot of films in South India and Sri Lanka are co-produced and released simultaneously as both the regions have the same spoken language. “But Bollywood films take up a lot of time. I mean, if you’ve turned your TV on and begin watching a Hindi film, you would want to see it till the end, out of its sheer entertaining value,” he says.
Mendoza logics that it’s important for him to make different cinema to get noticed. “It’s a challenge to compete in a Euro-centric scene if you don’t come up with something innovative. But I’m happy that these efforts are being appreciated by all kinds of audiences,” he says.
For Mendoza, it’s the truthfulness and honesty that counts while judging a film. For Jayasundara, the story has to be moving.