Mumbai’s biggest celebration of independent movies, the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival just concluded on a promising note, here’s the lowdown from our movie buff in the city…
By Rodrigues C
IT’S an Ambani thing, you might say.
The association of one of India’s richest families meant there were oodles of Bollywood glamour at the opening ceremony, as well as for all the 10 days. Known as Mami, it is also known as the Mumbai Film Festival – Mami stands for Mumbai Academy of Moving Image. The opening ceremony was hosted at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai and Indian telecommunications company Jio, which is owned by Mukesh Ambani, is the main festival sponsor.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who is the chairperson of the festival, flew down from the US. Another Bollywood stalwart Kareena Kapoor Khan attended the premiere of her, ‘The Buckingham Murders’ on the opening night along with the film’s director Hansal Mehta and producer Ekta Kapoor. (The film had its world premiere at London Film Festival last month – but only Hansal attended.)
Kareena Kapoor’s husband Saif Ali Khan accompanied her sister Karisma Kapoor on the red carpet.
A host of other stars also surfaced at the opening – Kamal Haasan, Mani Ratnam, Rajkummar Rao, Sonam Kapoor, Manoj Bajayee, Sunny Leone, Vishal Bhardwaj and wife Rekha Bhardwaj, Shabana Azmi, Vijay Varma, Sanya Malhotra, Dia Mirza, Bhumi Pednekar, Arjun Rampal, Konkana Sen Sharma, Karan Johar, Randeep Hooda, Zoya Akhtar, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Riteish Deshmukh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal also attended the festival.
Post the razzmatazz of the first night it was business as usual; over 300 films in 70 languages from 70 countries were screened.
Seventy of these movies were helmed by women filmmakers. On day one Kamal Haasan honoured Mani Ratnam with the Excellence in Cinema Award. Luca Guadagnino was presented the same award by Priyanka Chopra.
Sarvnik Kaur’s documentary ‘Against the Tide’, which is based on the lives of the Koli fishing community of Mumbai, won the Golden Gateway Award in the South Asia Competition.
Diwa Shah’s ‘Bahadur – The Brave’, which is about the difficulties faced by two migrant Nepali friends in Nainital (India) during the pandemic, bagged the Silver Gateway Award.
The Special Jury Award went to Kanu Behl’s ‘Agra’, a film about a sexually repressed 24-year-old call centre employee.
The South Asia Competition Awards were presented by a jury headed by Mira Nair.
Australian writer and filmmaker David Michod, Filipino filmmaker and actor Isabel Sandoval and French film critic and festival director Edouard Waintrop were also part of the jury.
The Film Critics Guild Gender Sensitivity Award was presented to ‘A House Named Shahana’ (‘Barir Naam Shahana’), which is helmed by British Bangladeshi director Leesa Gazi.
The movie takes viewers into the life of a small town woman, who goes for a divorce, pursues higher studies and lives life on her own terms.
MAMI also paid a tribute to Derek Malcolm, who passed away earlier this year. The veteran British film critic served at The Guardian from 1971 to 1997 and at London’s Evening Standard from 2003 to 2015 and was a fierce champion of independent cinema. He could often be found in the India pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival recounting his days discussing films with the legendary Satyajit Ray, among others. (See here).
The Rashid Irani Young Critics’ Choice trophy went to Shahrukhkhan Chavada’s ‘Which Colour?’ (Kayo Kayo Colour?), a 96-minute film about a man’s attempt to buy an autorickshaw, his wife, two children, an affluent sister and the children’s grandparents.
Dominic Sangma’s ‘Rimdogittanga’ (‘Rapture’), about a 10-year old boy suffering night blindness from a village, which is gripped by kidnapping rumours, won the NETPAC Award.
The IMDb Audience Choice Award for the most popular film at the festival was won by Pawo Choyning Dorji’s ‘The Monk and the Gun’, about an American who encounters a monk in Bhutan. IMDb India head Yaminie Patodia and MAMI festival director Anupama Chopra presented the award. It created history when it was the first film that country ever nominated for a foreign language Oscar.
The Civic Studios’ Light Camera Impact Award, which honored two non-feature films on climate, sexuality and the caste system, went to Pradyumna Patil’s ‘Blackhole’ and Pankaj Sonawane’s ‘Consecration’ (‘Praan Pratishthana’). The awards were presented by Civic Studios founder Anushka Shah and filmmaker Kiran Rao.’
The MAMI Select-Filmed on iPhone segment screened short films shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max and edited on the MacBook Pro. Projects by emerging talent such as Archana Atul Phadke, Faraz Ali, Prateek Vats, Saurav Rai and Saumyananda Sahi were selected in this competition. The quartet will be mentored by Bollywood filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj, Vikramaditya Motwane and Rohan Sippy.
A masterclass by Mira Nair, Mani Ratnam, Luca Guadagnino, David Michod and Priyanka Chopra was a huge draw at the festival.
So too was a panel discussion by filmmakers Sujoy Ghosh, Vishal Bhardwaj, Raj & DK, Apoorva Bakshi and Sudip Sharma titled Seminal Storytellers in Streaming 2023.
While screenings for the festival lasted till November 5, the final award ceremony of was held on November 3; Sofia Coppola’s ‘Priscilla’, based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 biography ‘Elvis and Me’, which is written with support from Sandra Harmon, was the closing film the same day.
The closing ceremony, also held on November 3, was attended by Bollywood celebs such as Kalki Koechlin, Surveen Chawla, Janhvi Kapoor, Vishal Bhardwaj, Manushi Chillar, Bhumika Chawla, Kiran Rao and Mira Nair.
With the cricket world cup matches being simultaneously played in Mumbai along with MAMI, it was a busy period for the city. But everything went smoothly. As for Mumbai, it couldn’t get better than this.
The festival officially ran from October 27 to November 5.