The Mumbai Film Festival has grown bigger and better. Its 12th year is the most impressive so far, with 200 films from 58 countries. The festival will open on 21 October with the screening of David Fincher’s film on the founding of Facebook, The Social Network.

For the next seven days, Mumbaikars will be treated to 200 films from around the world in categories such as World Cinema, Real Reel, Indian Frame and Celebration of Japanese Cinema.

Oliver Stone, along with our very own Manoj Kumar, will be felicitated with a lifetime achievement award. The Oscar-winning director of Platoon and JFK will also lead a round table with Indian film-makers.

The all-women jury also boasts of a well-known Hollywood name, Jane Campion (The Piano), as well as National Award-winning Indian actor Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Tanya Seghatchian (producer of four Harry Potter films), Iranian film-maker Samira Makhmalbaf and South Korean actor Yoon Jeong-hee. Campion, who is the jury chairperson, will also conduct a masterclass in direction and another on performance in films from the director’s perspective.

Highlight: Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy is in French.

Speaking about the all-women jury she says: “I wish there was a man! I get along better with them, but the bonding between women is fantastic. There will be some clashes along the way, but in the end there will be only one opinion."

Besides the best of world cinema, the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (Mami) will also feature the Film Business Centre, which will be attended by 25 leading film buyers and sales agents from around the world. Amit Khanna, chairman of festival sponsor Reliance BIG Entertainment, says: “We hope this marketplace will be the harbinger for a centre for buying and selling films. We see this as an opportunity for small, independent film-makers who may not be able to travel with their films and can avail of the facilities provided by Mami."

Film director Shyam Benegal, who is the chairman of Mami, says, “We have the cream of world cinema, like the winners of the Berlin, Venice, Cannes and Locarno film festivals, and we are now probably the best festival in India." Among the films to look out for are Sofia Coppola’s Golden Lion winner Somewhere, Semih Kaplanoglu’s Golden Bear-winner Bal, Xavier Beauvois’ Cannes Grand Prix-winner Of Gods and Men and Li Hongqi’s Winter Vacation.

Benegal says he is very relieved to have reliable funding and sponsorship this year. “Funding is crucial for all festivals," he says. “Secondly, we have people like festival director Srinivasan Narayanan, who has a great deal of experience of international film festivals. Thirdly, who the sponsor is also helps." The festival committee’s aim, Benegal adds, is “to make it the next best thing for young film-makers after Sundance because we give such good financial awards."

The 14 feature films of first-time directors in the international competition (including an Indian film, Aamir Bashir’s Harud) will compete for the cash award of $100,000 (around Rs44.7 lakh). Other awards include the Golden Gateway of India and Silver Gateway of India trophies for the Best Film. The Jury Grand Prize has a purse of $50,000 and the Audience Choice award has a cash prize of $20,000.

Films will be screened at Chandan Cinema, Juhu; PVR Juhu; Metro BIG Cinemas, Marine Lines; and BIG Cinemas, R City, Ghatkopar. For the registration details and schedule, log on

Write to