Afew reasons to attend this year’s edition of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF): Michael Haneke’s Amour; David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis; Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share; Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild; Franz Osten’s A Throw of Dice; Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard; and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.
The 14th edition of MFF, which will run from 18-25 October, includes heavy-hitters from the world’s leading festivals, Indian silent classics and an overview of Italian cinema. Amour, about a husband caring for his dementia-affected wife, won the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes film festival. Also from Cannes are British film-maker Loach’s working class-set comedy The Angels’ Share and Cosmopolis, an adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel of the same name, starring Twilight pin-up Robert Pattinson.
The preliminary list includes A Royal Affair, about the affair between a queen and her surgeon, starring Danish heart-throb Mads Mikkelsen, and the acclaimed American movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Zeitlin’s fantastical adventure follows an insanely cute six-year-old girl whose island is in danger of being submerged by rising flood waters. Mikkelsen will also show up in The Hunt, a study of mass hysteria, for which he bagged the best actor trophy at Cannes.
Also being screened are Kauwboy, a portrait of a 12-year-old boy that scooped up the best First Feature award at the Berlin Film Festival, and Alison Klayman’s documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, about the controversial dissident Chinese artist.
The centenary of Indian cinema will be marked—through a selection of Indian silent film classics and a celebration of Italian cinema. Among the black and white wordless beauties that will be on display are Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s Kaliya Mardan (1919) and Franz Osten’s A Throw of Dice. Other silent films include Osten’s Shiraz and Baburao Painter’s Muraliwala (1927) and Sati Savitri (1927). Live music will accompany the silent screenings.
Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man, a documentary on P.K. Nair, will draw attention to the pioneering archivist’s attempts to preserve India’s film heritage.
A short history of cinema will also emerge from the showcase of Italian classics down the decades. The works of some of the country’s and the world’s greatest film-makers will emerge from the vaults: Robert Rossellini’s The Machine That Kills Bad People (1952), a comedy about a murderous photographer; Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954), about the doomed love between an Austrian army officer and a married woman; The Leopard (1963), a chronicle of the changing fortunes of an aristocratic family in 19th century Italy; Pier Paolo Pasolini’s debut feature Accattone (1961), set in Rome’s underbelly; Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), a study of fascism; and Federico Fellini’s autobiographical Roma (1972).
Keeping them company is silent film Quo Vadis (1913), about the romance between a Roman nobleman and a slave, Sergio Leone’s final movie, the 229-minute-long gangster drama Once Upon a Time in America (1984) and Nanni Moretti’s three-part Dear Diary (1993), a serio-comic examination of Italian history.
The organizers are trying to ensure that business is mixed in with pleasure. The Mumbai Film Mart was set up in a small way in 2009 to ensure that apart from screening contemporary world cinema, the festival could facilitate links between Indian film-makers and foreign sales agents and distributors.
For instance, the Taiwanese company Khan Entertainment bought the rights to 10 Indian titles last year, including 3 Idiots, Cheeni Kum and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. “In order to grow, any festival needs to concentrate on the business side of films,” says MFF director Srinivasan Narayanan. “Any film festival that has prospered, like Cannes, Berlin, Venice or Busan, has done so because it has a well-developed film market. We have expanded the scope of Mumbai Film Mart this year and are inviting many more people.” Sidebar events include a masterclass in acting by Jaya Bachchan and a session on creative production by Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz.
Unlike last year, the bulk of the screenings and the market will be held away from Mumbai’s film-centric suburb Andheri in the south. The venues are the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Inox and Liberty Cinema, with parallel shows at Cinemax multiplexes in Sion and Versova. We predict a surge in the daily passes issued by the Bandra–Worli Sea Link authorities as delegates rush from the city’s north to the south to watch films from yesterday and today.
Passes will be issued over the next few weeks at www.mumbaifilmfestival.com.