Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’ opened the 15th edition of Mumbai International Film Festival which today honoured renowned Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras and actor-director Kamal Haasan with the lifetime achievement awards for their contribution to cinema.
The historical drama is the true-life inspired story of Eugene Allen,a White House butler who served eight US presidents,and stars actors like Forest Whitakar and Oprah Winfrey in lead roles.
The eight-day-long festival,organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Images and Reliance Entertainment,was inaugurated by Maharastra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,festival chairman Shyam Benegal and guest of honour Sonakshi Sinha.
Benegal highlighted that the festival,which has grown strength to strength,still needs a permanent venue and more support from the government in running it smoothly.
Chavan,who presented the Lifetime Achievement award to Gavras,said the government will work more closely with the festival.
“We give some financial support to the festival and will give more,” Chavan said,adding that the government was working closely with the film fraternity to resolve issues related to taxation.
The CM said he was happy to present the Lifetime Achievement award to Gavras as the director’s films were a huge influence on him.
Gavras,the man behind classic political stories like ‘Amen’,’Z’,’Missing’ and ‘Capital, received a standing ovation as he reached up to the stage to receive his award.
The filmmaker said he was moved to be acknowledged by a cinema loving audience.
“We are in a big fight,an exceptional fight for making free movies. This award will help me in this fight and give me courage to make more such movies,” Gavras said.
Haasan acknowledged the contribution of people like Benegal,Gavras and K G Balachander for his cinematic career,saying many of his films were influenced by these master directors.
“I did not prepare a speech because I knew I would fumble anyway. Film festivals have been the best teachers by providing a learning space to people like me,” Kamal Haasan said.
The festival has an impressive line-up of over 200 films from 65 countries and will screen some of the noted titles like lesbian drama ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ by Abdell,Atif Kechiche, Asgar Farhadi’s ‘The Past’,which is Iranian entry for the Oscars this year,Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,Australian Oscar entry ‘The Rocket’ by Kim Mordaunt,Hollywood star Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut ‘Don Jon’,Nicholas Winding Refn’s ‘Only God Forgives’,Lindsay Lohan-starrer ‘The Canyons’ and Bill Condon’s ‘The Fifth Estate’.
The festival will award $220,000 as cash prizes in various categories,including the international competition for debut feature directors.
Thirteen films are vying for an award in the category including Anthony Chen’s ‘Ilo Illo’,the lone Indian entry,Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi language film ‘Fandry’, Paul Wright’s ‘For Those In Peril’,’Neus Ballus’,’The Plague’ and Mathieu Roy’s ‘Another House’.
The festival’s competition jury is headed by ‘Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford and has members like French actress Nathalie Baye,Japanese film-maker Masato Harada,Indian actress Konkona Sen Sharma and Canada-based Indian director Deepa Mehta.
India Gold,Celebrate Age and Dimension Mumbai are the other competition sections.
The other highlight of the festival will be celebration of Spanish cinema,spotlight on Cambodian cinema,6th rendezvous with French Cinema,Kabul Fresh – new voices in Afghan cinema,besides experimental and classic films from around the world.
The festival will also pay homage to filmmaker Yash Chopra,Rituparno Ghosh and veteran actor Pran.