The Mumbai Film Festival set to run its 15th edition from October 17, has a wide spread of 200 movies from 65 countries. There are some unusually different kinds of films categorised under titles such as Kabul Fresh (of captivating shorts), Celebrate Age, Spotlight on Cambodia, Celebration of Spanish Cinema, New Faces of Indian Cinema, India Gold and, of course, International Competition (for first features). This, in all probability, makes the Festival the largest in the country.
Organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image and chiefly sponsored by Reliance Entertainment, the Festival, held over eight days from October 17 to 24, will in addition to its colourful canvas of cinema, hold master classes, organise a movie mart and present lifetime achievement awards to Tamil superstar Kamal Hassan and French legend Costa Gavras.
In an exclusive telephone interview to HT from Mumbai, five-time Festival Director Srinivasan Narayanan, who calls this year’s edition as his “swansong”, had interesting observations to make. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Gautaman Bhaskaran: How many films did the Festival receive this year?
Srinivasan Narayanan: We got 768 foreign movies. Apart from these, we invited some 50-odd films, films which we had seen earlier in the course of our scouting around the world, in movie festivals and outside these. Besides, we also looked at about 130 Indian works. So, we considered close to a 1000 pictures, finally choosing 200 films.
GB: Was the total submission this year different from last year’s?
SN: Not really. The number of movies viewed remained more or less the same as in 2012.
GB: This being the Festival’s 15th edition, are you planning anything new or different?
SN: To begin with, we are planning a robust academic activity. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be organising three programmes. Four representatives are coming down to hold workshops on digital transformation and 3D. And Bruce Beresford, who will head the international jury, will hold classes on pre-shoot. We are starting to lay a far greater emphasis on the academy component of cinema. We have divided the Festival into three clear segments. One, films or the creative content. Two, academic activity. Three, the business of movies. The film mart will concentrate on distribution of Indian movies outside the country, and the distribution of foreign films within India. We have been fairly successful in getting the distribution rights of Indian movies abroad, particularly in Japan and South-east Asia. The mart will screen brand new Indian films or those under production to potential overseas buyers and distributors. I feel that that each of the activities – academics, creative content and market -- is as important as the other to make a movie festival an enriching experience.
GB: The Festival takes place in Mumbai, the heart of the Indian film industry or what is popularly or loosely called Bollywood. What kind of industry participation are you hoping for?
SN: I will not call it Bollywood. But we have seen over the years a very active attendance by young moviemakers, writers and technicians. A lot of film society members do come to watch cinema. So too tens of students. I feel very happy to see young people watch good cinema.
GB: So, you do not see stars from Mumbai trooping into the Festival venue?
SN: They are always welcome. We will be more than happy to see them in the Festival theatres.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran will be covering the Mumbai Film Festival)