In its 11th year, the Mumbai Film Festival — the only international film festival in India — is a mixed bag of 200 films handpicked from 56 countries. Organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), the festival promises a packed house with competitions, world cinema showcase, short films by young filmmakers, and retrospectives.
The festival, which is spearheaded by Shyam Benegal and supported by film personalities like Shabana Azmi, Amol Palekar,
Jaya Bachchan, Ashutosh Gowariker, Yash Chopra, Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar, attempts at fostering cinema, thereby blurring the line between parallel and commercial films.
While some of the best movies from around the globe would be screened here, the festival would also give an opportunity to
young filmmakers to exhibit their talent. Indian cinema forms an integral part too.
“A film festival, by definition, is meant to show the best that is on offer worldwide. Our single criterion for selecting films is just that,” says Shyam Benegal, chairman, MAMI.
He says that Life Goes On, by debutante director Sangeeta Dutta, that will have Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan together on screen for the first time, will premiere at the festival.
“I haven’t seen it yet. However, this film is not included in the competition,” says Benegal. The film is about a man (Girish Karnad), his deceased wife (Sharmila Tagore) and three daughters. Soha plays the youngest daughter who falls in love with a Muslim man. Some of the other regional films that will be screened are— Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Janala, Rituparno Ghosh’s Abohomaan, Umesh Kulkarni’s Vihir, Renuka Shahane-Rana’s Rita and Madhupal’s The Crown (Thalappavu).
Apart from showcasing 13 feature films by first time directors, the festival will show retrospectives of Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos and Shashi Kapoor. They would also receive the international Lifetime Achievement Award.“We’ll also be celebrating Dev Anand’s 60 years and Amitabh Bachchan’s 40 years in Indian cinema. Tributes will be paid to late B R Chopra and Paul Schrader as well,” says Benegal.
The jury members include Paul Schrader, Brillante Mendoza, Shaji N Karun and Irene Bignardi. Benegal confirms that the panel is still trying to get Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi for the festival.
“Ours is the only festival that has achieved the official status by FIAPF (The International Federation of Film Producers Association). It’s run by a set of people who are passionate about cinema. I’d say ours is a specialised event,” he states.
The prize for the best film is equally tempting — the best film gets a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh forms the Jury Grand Prize. A new category, the Audience Choice Award, has been initiated this time with a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh.