AS the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), gets ready for its 18th edition, its youthful exuberance is inescapable. So is the buzz around it — created with the meticulous planning and programming done by the team headed by chairperson Kiran Rao, festival director Anupama Chopra and creative director Smriti Kiran. After its spectacular inauguration at the Gateway of India last year, the organisers are hosting yet another grand opening by holding the ceremony at the newly renovated Royal Opera House.
This coincides with the reopening of the iconic building after 23 years. Built in 1811, the Opera House has been restored to its former glory after shutting its doors for over two decades.
During the next week, from October 21 to 27, the festival will screen 175 movies from 54 countries, including features, documentaries and short films, at venues spread across the island city, including PVR Icon, PVR ECX, PVR Pheonix, Regal, PVR Kurla and PVR Mulund. The opening movie of the annual festival — one of the most-awaited events on the city’s cultural calendar — is Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut feature, A Death in the Gunj, which premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. MFF brings to the city several international festival favourites such as Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake (UK), Pablo Larrain’s Neruda (Chile), Swiss Army Man featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (France), Hirokazu Koreeda’s After the Storm (Japanese) and Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman (Iran). The list also features some of the more talked about Indian movies such as Alankrita Shivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, Rohit Mittal’s mockumentary Autohead, Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence and An Insignificant Man directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla.
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Half Ticket Returns
The second edition of the segment titled “Half Ticket” opens with The Little Prince, a fantasy adventure family drama based on the 1943 novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Adapted by Mark Osborne, the director of Kung Fu Panda (2008), it revolves around a girl who lives in a very grown up world and her mother who maps out every minute of her daughter’s life in order to get her into the finest school. Monica Wahi, curator of “Half Ticket” said, “Generations have grown up with the book. I’m sure that like the classic, this contemporary retelling will also resonate with both children and adults.” The section will screen 28 films from across the world including fiction, non-fiction and animation.
The Movie Mela
Along with screenings, the MFF is rolling out some movie-related events. During the two-day Movie Mela, which will be organised at Bandra’s Rangmandir on October 22 and 23, the first look of the much-anticipated Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, directed by SS Rajamouli, will be launched. The cast, including Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty and Tamannaah, will share their experiences of making the magnum opus. The other major attraction of the fiesta is the reunion of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (1992) team after 24 years. The cast will be part of a panel which will include Aamir Khan, Mamik Singh, Deepak Tijori, Deven Bhojani, Aditya Lakhia, Kiran Zaveri and Pooja Bedi along with director Mansoor Khan and choreographer Farah Khan.
Under the “New Medium” section, 14 films will offer new ways of seeing movies. This brings together works that have shaped and transcended the language of cinema in both form and content. Its curator and artist Shaina Anand said, “The moving image has a very short historical life. It is only 125 years old and its form and language is far from exhausted. Some of the films we present here are canons. Others are cult classics, known only in small circles. Here you will find assemblage, agitprop, a film about a film and a faux documentary, among others.” It opens with the restored version of Dziga Vertov’s audacious Man with the Movie Camera that was made in 1929. The film will be accompanied by a live score performed by the Vitaly Tkachuk Quartet from Ukraine. Uday Shankar’s dance film, Kalpana (1948), Mani Kaul’s mini-series Ahamaq (Idiot), and an iconic work of expanded cinema — the two-screen Light Music (1975) by Lis Rhodes that will be installed inside the cinema hall, will also be a part of the festival.
“Spotlight” is a new section that has been added to the festival’s schedule to celebrate the diversity of Indian cinema. This section opens with the world premiere of Vikramaditya Motwane’s next, Trapped. Motwane said, “It’s a film based in Mumbai and it’s apt that its world premiere will be held here.” Director Priyadarshan’s Sila Samayangalil, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s The Bait and Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Once Again (Pinneyum) will also be screened under this category along with Kaagaz Ki Kashti, a documentary on the life of singer Jagjit Singh by director Brahmanand Singh, and an anthology of short films titled Shor se Shuruat.