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Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Made it! Mumbai Film Festival finally gets ready to roll

The Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), which was on the brink of closure a few weeks ago, has rallied enough funds and goodwill to hold a press conference at the fancy Hotel Novotel and announce the highlights of its 16th edition. Key members of the festival organizer, the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (Mami), including Amit Khanna, and MFF director Srinivasan Narayan, were present at the press conference. As were some of its new patrons, including journalist Anupama Chopra, who has persuaded several Bollywood worthies to part with donations for the event, and who now serves as the festival’s creative adviser. Lifetime achievement awards will be given to French actor Catherine Deneuve and Indian actor Helen during the festival. Apart from the regular mix of award-winners from other festivals, debut features, Indian independent films, documentaries and shorts, there are sections on Arab and Russian cinema. Around 180 films will be screened. The list hasn’t been finalized. The opening and closing films—usually serious-minded Hollywood dramas—have not yet been announced, and details on a set of Arab cinema down the ages are also awaited. Here are the highlights of what we do know.

Misses and hits

‘Fury’, starring Brad Pitt.
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‘Fury’, starring Brad Pitt.

Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which traces the relationship between a millionaire and two wrestlers he supports, won’t be at MFF since it is going to the International Film Festival of India in November in Goa, as is Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Palme d’Or winner Winter Sleep. Richard Linklater’s hotly anticipated Boyhood, in which he follows a character over an 11-year period, will, however, come to Mumbai, as will the Hollywood World War II drama Fury, starring Brad Pitt, among others. Fury will be released through PVR Cinemas on 31 October.

Indian talent

Avinash Arun’s ‘Killa’.
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Avinash Arun’s ‘Killa’.

Chaitanya Tamhane’s debut Court, a courtroom drama that was selected for the Venice Film Festival, will be shown in the International Competition section. The Indian Competition section will see a tough fight between such films as Avinash Arun’s Killa, a migration drama told through the eyes of children, Unto The Dusk, Sajin Baabu’s depiction of a novitiate’s struggles with matters spiritual and corporeal, Fig Fruit And The Wasps, M.S. Prakash Babu’s existential road movie, Chauranga, Bikas Mishra’s debut about a Dalit teenager’s dreams, and veteran cinematographer and sometime director Venu’s Munnariyippu, about the encounter between a journalist and a convict and starring Malayalam thespian Mamootty.

Movies from around the world

‘What’s The Time In Your World’ from Iran.
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‘What’s The Time In Your World’ from Iran.

Old favourites and new masters

A still from ‘Goodbye To Language’.
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A still from ‘Goodbye To Language’.

As is the case every year, the MFF brings to Mumbai the top-liners and heavy-hitters from the leading film festivals in the world. The Cannes titles include Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Search and Two Days, One Night, by the Dardenne brothers. Also among the offerings from old favourites and new auteurs are Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye To Language, a 3D drama about the communication breakdown between a couple, One On One, the latest offering from South Korean enfant terrible Kim-ki Duk, family drama The Little House by Japanese director Yoji Yamada, Early Spring, Kyoto, an exploration of relationships by Japanese helmer Hiroshi Toda, Jimmy’s Hall, Ken Loach’s biopic of Irish activist Jimmy Gralton, Mike Leigh’s artist biopic Mr. Turner, Atom Egoyan’s kidnapping thriller The Captive, Over Your Dead Body, a supernatural horror film by the indefatigable Japanese provocateur Takashi Miike, Olivier Assayas’ Clouds Of Sils Maria, a psychological study of actors and acting, Zhang Yimou’s Cultural Revolution-set Coming Home and Alain Resnais’ last film before his death, Life Of Riley. André Téchiné’s In The Name Of My Daughter, starring Deneuve, will also be screened, with Deneuve expected to attend the festival.

Documentaries

A still from ‘Vessel’, a documentary about right to abortion.
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A still from ‘Vessel’, a documentary about right to abortion.

A section that seemed ripe for axing because of monetary constraints has been retained after all. The section includes two biographical documentaries, Khalid Mohamed’s The Master Shyam Benegal, and Ron Mann’s Altman, on Robert Altman. Red Army explores the evolution of hockey in Russia; The 50 Year Argument, co-directed by Martin Scorsese, unpacks the cultural impact of The New York Review Of Books; Vessel, a documentary about the right to abortion; Iranian assembles four Iranian men to discuss issues facing the country.

Early Russian cinema

Andrei Tarkovsky’s biopic ‘Andrei Rublev’.
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Andrei Tarkovsky’s biopic ‘Andrei Rublev’.

Big-screen projections of Andrei Tarkovsky’s biopic Andrei Rublev, Sergei Eisenstein’s historical epic Alexander Nevsky, Grigoriy Chukhray’s World War II drama Ballad Of A Soldier and Akira Kurosawa’s Soviet-Japanese production Dersu Uzala—what more can a cinephile want? The package of classics from Russian cinema between 1938-2004 from legendary studio Mosfilm is a reminder of the rich, varied and influential legacy of the former Soviet Union.

Indians abroad

‘Amar, Akbar &Tony’, a comedy by Atul Malhotra.
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‘Amar, Akbar &Tony’, a comedy by Atul Malhotra.

Curated by Uma Da Cunha, Film India Worldwide screens films made about India, by Indians and foreigners, living beyond the country’s shores. On this year’s list are British director Atul Malhotra’s comedy Amar Akbar & Tony, Lesley Manning’s Honeycomb Lodge, set in a shelter for abused woman, and Rajesh Shera’s existential horror film Echoes.

The Mumbai Film Festival will run from 14-21 October. For details and registration, visit www.mumbaifilmfest.org

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