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As the 2014 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF, commences on Thursday, it will once again prove to be a platform showcasing independent filmmaking in India, while not ignoring mainstream Bollywood.
As has been the norm in recent years, the selection of films from India spans genres, formats, regions and languages. “We are looking for everything when we’re looking at Indian cinema because it offers everything and that’s what I love about it,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director in an interview with the Hindustan Times. As a result, there’s mainstream Bollywood, independent films, and even a short documentary that will play across TIFF’s screens.
The headliner, of course, is the biopic Mary Kom, based on the Olympic silver-medal winning boxer’s life and career, that brings forth the “the most glorious dazzling commercial cinema in India,” as Bailey put it. The film’s star, Priyanka Chopra will whiz through Toronto for the red carpet premiere on TIFF’s opening night.
For many others, this is a festival for reruns. Director Shonali Bose, who had her maiden appearance at TIFF in 2005 with her debut film Amu, returns with her third feature, Margarita, with a Straw. Bailey said of the film: “She’s evolved as a filmmaker and she’s drawn both on what she’s learnt in her craft over the years but also on her personal experience. The story in Margarita is based at least in part, or inspired by her own sister’s experiences as someone who lives with cerebral palsy.”
Also returning is Anand Gandhi, who directed Ship of Theseus, which garnered critical acclaim when it premiered at TIFF in 2012. His role this time is different, as producer for the short documentary, Newborns. Directed by Mumbai-based Megha Ramaswamy, it depicts the lives of survivors of acid attacks. It will be part of what is the first-ever Short Cuts (or short documentary) programme at TIFF to feature international films.
Another regular to play another engagement is director Anurag Kashyap, though this time as producer for the film, Tigers, directed by Oscar-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic.
There’s also the Tamil film, The Crow’s Egg, directed by M Manikandan. Bailey said of the film, “I was very charmed by and moved by it. Of course we have a large Tamil population in Toronto, but that’s not why we chose it. It’s really more, it’s a great film and I think it will resonate with all audiences.”