Every year, thousands of cinephiles across India descend to Mumbai for the Jio MAMI Film Festival, one of the best film festivals in Asia. For one week, cinema lovers are treated to a wide range of films from all around the world — award-winning, indie, horror-fantasy, classics, Indian showcase and a focus on the particular country. Taking the festival forward is the Jio MAMI Film Club, that took off in May with a conversation between renowned actor Ian McKellan and Aamir Khan. “Our intent is to make MAMI more than a festival. What we’re hoping to do is initiate a year-round engagement with cinema, with talks and screenings. We want to bring films that have never been shown in India before. We don’t only want to bring in film lovers but also filmmakers and bring in talent. This is something other film festivals such as TIFF and the London Film Festival do very well,” says Anupama Chopra, festival director, MAMI.
So far, the film club has focussed on film premieres — in June, Bengali director Q’s Brahman Naman was screened, followed by Richie Mehta’s India in a Day in September. This month’s India premier was the much-awaited La La Land by Damien Chazelle, whose breakout film Whiplash was released in 2013. La La Land is the story of Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist, who meet and fall in love. As they set out to fulfil their dreams in Los Angeles or La La Land, the very things that brought them together, threaten to tear them apart.
“In time, we would like to promote local talent and content. We want MAMI to be the gateway to Indian cinema and there are a lot of films that are in different languages and don’t reach a larger audience; the movie club is a platform to do that all year round, as opposed to just one week in October. The film club is free and all one has to do is sign up,” says Chopra.
While the next screening is yet to be finalised, Chopra hopes to bring Martin Scorcese’s latest film, Silence, starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Ciarán Hinds for an India premiere in December.