My MAMI experience : Films at Mumbai Fest Festival
Every year since 1997, Mumbai Academy of Moving Images conducts an International film festival that encompasses films from all over the world in the city of dreams, Mumbai. It is “THE” hub for all the film enthusiasts and cinema lovers across the country and an opportunity none would miss if given a chance. It was the first full fledged film festival I have ever attended and loved every, single part of it. Four months gone and this has been my best week in Mumbai, yet. Out of 200 films that were screened parallely in 6 screens in 7 days, I could see 23 of them. Here is the table of the all the films I have watched and CLICK on them to check out their respective trailers.
18th Oct. 2013
19th Oct. 2013
20th Oct. 2013
21st Oct. 2013
22nd Oct. 2013
23rd Oct. 2013
23rd Oct. 2013
*Dimensions Mumbai is a section of 20 short films made by 25 years and above filmmakers from the country.
MY TOP 5 FILMS AT MAMI
- The Act of Killing (2012):
The Act of Killing is a documentary wherein the title speaks of itself . It has been made in such a way that from the very beginning the filmmaker catches you by your ear. You have to listen to him and go with him on his journey into understanding the 1965-66 killings that took lives of more than 1 million communists. He has chosen an extraordinary subject to talk about this issue – One of the members of the death squads, Anwar Congo (right one in the picture) and his fellow-mate Adi Zulkadry (left).
The filmmaker challenged them to make a film of any genre to recreate the realities of the killings that they speak of so proudly and made a documentary on it called The act of killing. As you watch them relive their days as murderers, you’ll cringe and grasp your seat with disgust but you won’t take your eyes off the reality captured on screen – honest, seamless and justice made to the exceptional idea. Must watch for all documentary lovers.
- Blue is the warmest colour (2013):
Where do I start from? Ok, let me try. So, Blue is the warmest colour is the story of a 15 year old girl (seriously!?) who is curious about her sexuality when she falls in love in the very first sight with a blue haired tomboy, Emma. It is the story of their love, passion, separation and denouement like no other.
Adèle is one of those girls who makes people curious of who she is. Its not deliberate. While she may appear to you as a girl who does not much to say, here is Adèle with opinions about everything and very strong ones there. She is headstrong and a character that the director has explored in every possible sense through this film. What do I say about Emma? I fell in love with her. She is an artist, romantic and a wonderful lover. The film explores their relationship, emotionally and sexually, from Emma’s deep ideals and greater causes to Adèle’s need to have simplicity and happiness called Emma in life.
Its a pleasure, an experience like no other. Must watch. Only if you are completely uncensored. (You will know why)
PS – The movie is based on a french graphic novel called Blue Angel by Julie Maroh
- The Past (2013):
You’ll be amazed at what the master manages to do this time. After films like A separation, About Elly, he has again managed to blow our minds with this absolutely enthralling feature called The past. The story starts with Marie waiting in the airport to pick up her soon to be ex husband Samir. As she calls him through the glass window, he could not hear and when they eventually meet, the story unfolds. In the entire film, nothing is obvious – everything is told but again not in an obvious way. Asghar Farhadi again manages to get the attention of his viewers unblinkingly in this tale of broken relationships, unsaid and hidden feelings of love, hatred. The inevitable decadence of marriage befalls on you as the film walks with you through suppressed emotions, teenage complications and innocent ignorance.
The use of glasses is clear, both visually and metaphorically throughout the film and as the director spoke about it in the festival (The Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi was the chief guest if MAMI), the significance is very relevant to the very nature of the film – where people talk and talk and nobody understands the other. It is worth every second and a film you must watch, an experience you won’t forget.
- Powerless (2013):
Now, this came as a surprise. One, I did not expect I would love it so much. Two, it was not even a feature film! I know that sounds a little stupid. But you have to watch it to believe me. Powerless is not really a docudrama but gives you a feel of it and strikes the right chords with its effective story telling.
The film is an objective take on the issue of habitual power cuts in Kanpur that goes up to 15 hours a day. While Loha, one of the many (but one the best too) katiyabaaz (an electrician who steals electricity), plays Robin-hood figure by charging the rich to provide free power connections in poor neighbourhoods. On the other hand is the first female chief of KESCO (Kanpur electricity supply company), Ritu who has vowed to clean up all illegal electricity connections, a first step forward to eliminate powerlessness.
The story of both sides comes as a sensible, informative, hilarious and gripping tale of the city’s predicament, from the people deprived of it to the officials responsible for it and of course, the politics that makes it all the more interesting.
- Short term 12 (2013):
The final film of the list and my favourite one at that. It had been some time since I had walked out of a theatre and felt so elated, excited, satisfied and out of words. I absolutely loved the film and so did many people who walked out screen 1, Metro cinemas, Mumbai. After watching a film like that? Pure happiness.Short term 12 is the story of a young girl who works as a supervisor at a foster care facility for at-risk teenagers and lives with her long term boyfriend and co-worker, Marcus. Her own troubled past helps her to understand and fully empathise with the characters. The film explores her and Marcus’s relationship, who absolutely dotes on her and with the arrival of another troubled kid Jayden, they both find a friend in each other and it gets better when you watch it.
There is nothing extraordinary about the film. The fact that it manages to touch you with its sensitive approach to a topic like that and every visual so emotively expressed and without not being melodramatic – that makes Short term 12 a complete and an outstanding film. Loved every minute of it.
FILMS I LIKED A LOT AT MAMI
- Tonnerre (2013):
Tonnerre is Brac’s debut feature film about a forgotten musician, Maxime who works alone and lives with his father, Claude in Tonnerre. One winter, he meets a young journalist, Melodie who interviews him for a local paper and falls for her. He seeks her out and they fall in love. Its a simple story of the tragedy that lies underneath the beauty of innocent love – the tragedy of not being loved enough.
What I absolutely loved about the film was the fragility of the characters especially Maxime, the understanding of Claude, the absolutely clapped-so-hard performance of the dog and the genuine, inescapable warmth, apathy and confusion in Melodie’s head. It had good comedy and the dialogues added to my already satisfied experience of watching ‘love’ fall apart.
- The great Beauty (2013):
La grande bellezza. Italy’s entry to Oscars this year. For me the film opened up my eyes to what Rome is really like and makes me wonder how much Italians would have loved the film. The film is about a rich, senile man who has been going through a writer’s block for a long time now.
The film starts with a crazy party sequence and continues to unravel the different ideologies, sleaze and mockery on spirituality, which at times awed me and at other times, just went over my head. Brilliant performances wherein Toni Servillo is our hero and more.
- Holy Motors (2012):
It was the last show of the day and I was feeling bloodless after six consecutive days of catching up show after show. I had never expected the film to fall so heavily on me. It is a work of genius, an art never made or thought of before. Why? Because its strange, strange film that says nothing directly like montages of ideologies, laments and beliefs in a filmmaker’s mind.The film starts with people watching a film while Leos Carax himself stumbles across a room to find a secret passage to this packed hall. The film begins here and continues to introduce Oscar, who has a lot of appointments where he disguises himself as a character (sometimes an old beggar woman, other times a dying old man or a lunatic in a green suit) and goes on to play them. At first I thought that the film was based in future until I realised that it wasn’t supposed to come from any era at all. He talks about a lover’s anguish, a dying man’s tragedy, a glamour queen’s indifference and more and more. It might seem boring to many people but once you start to sit down and think about it, it fucking gets you by your balls, even if you don’t have any.
- The lovers on the bridge (1991):
That film which introduced me to Leos Carax. One of the most uncanny, perplexing, pure and contentious romance I have ever seen. Its a simple but complicatedly interweaved story of a young, homeless couple who fall in love while living in Paris’s oldest bridge, Pont Neuf. Michele is an artist with a rare eye disease and Alex is a circus performer addicted to alcohol and sedatives.While in the first half of the film, I was in the process of understanding this filmmaker’s perspective, with on and off feelings about it, the second half of the film completely caught me in its web. Alex falls madly in love with Michele and while she is trying to get over her failed relationship, Julian – she also finds a dependable companion, soon-to-be-lover in Alex. But he is scared that she will leave him if her eye is cured and thus, tries to keep her away from it but eventually ‘hope’ finds its way to the bridge and when the film culminates, you can’t help but wonder how purely magical cinema could be.
This feature starring Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant, has sucked up the best of them – you’ll be amazed by its intensity. You don’t have to see fire to feel the heat. My favourite scene is the last one – the one before they fall from the jeep – the one with her joke and both of them laughing.
- Lovers of the Arctic circle (1998):
One of those typically beautiful storytelling. Its like reading your favourite book, a classic at that. The likes of Amelie or the long engagement or love if you dare and an absolutely heart warming and heart wrenching at the same time, film to watch. Otto and Ana meet and fall in love when they were kids but with Otto’s mothers death, he leaves. The film is their search for each other and the denouncement comes with a silent bang.Coincidences are a character in themselves in films like these but again they are not meant for the sake of ‘conveniences’. They are fairy tales and not all of them have a happy ending.
- Z (1969):
It is not possible to cover in this space of how much I loved the film. Shanghai will always be one of the best Indian films I have ever watched in all times and Z was a pure orgasmic experience – yes, THAT level of satisfaction. The quirkiness of the dialogues and the raw manifestation of the characters. And for people who has every reason to dislike USA, this film is a bible you don’t wanna let go of. Its hilarious, right on your face, brave and full of fucking guts.There was one scene, where the protagonist (that are many) is clicking pictures of members of CROC (a communist organisation) and the man pointing them out aims at this man with one eye and says ‘he sold an eye to an American, now he is rich’. Dialogues like that. How can that not be grandfather of all fucking sarcasms! And plus the film begins with the statement, ‘All characters are deliberate’. Fuck. I need a separate page to talk about this awesome shit.
PS – You must and must watch it.
- Virgin/Kanyaka Talkies (2013):
After watching all the Indian films in the festival I was quite convinced that nothing good is gonna come up. But since I don’t get to watch Malayalam films, thanks to the uploaders on torrent for not putting up subtitles, I had to watch this one. And I have realised that – whatever we, in this indie ‘neo-realism’ Indian cinema are trying to do, our Mallu counterparts have already done it. In the beginning it is about a man who used to own a theatre and has now donated it to the church, his past and present effectively interweaved in the narrative. And then it becomes about a girl who is inevitably pushed into Malayalam B grade cinemas. And finally it culminates on a young priest who wants to do good but is deeply troubled by the haunting sounds (sex noises and stuff) of the films that used to play in the theatre. As he tries to figure his way out of the torture, you realise how effectively the filmmaker has been able to make his point – for the love of cinema.
FILMS I WANTED TO WATCH AT MAMI
If I had Hermione’s time-turner I wouldn’t have missed the following films
- Ilo Ilo (2013):
Under the backdrop of Asian Recession, a simple story of a family and their maid, set in 1990’s Singapore. Trailer
- The Golden Cage/ La juala De oro (2013):
A spanish film based on two Guatemalan teenagers on their journey to the US. Trailer
- Gloria (2013):
A spanish film on Gloria, a vivacious 58 year old woman, her romantic rendezvous with an ex naval officer and more. Trailer.
- Brahmin Bulls (2013):
After many years, father and son of Indian origin but based in Boston meet but their relationship is endangered by the arrival of a woman from the past.
- The missing Picture (2013):
A Cambodian documentary and animation film that talks about Khmer Rouge (Communism in Cambodia). I love this type of documentaries, e.g. Waltz with Bashir. Trailer
- Good to go (2013):
Comedy about a grumpy old man. Sole reason why I wanted to watch it that bad is for its awesome trailer.
- Fandry (2013):
A Marathi love story set up in rural India between class-mates within the backdrop of a very old monster called caste system. Trailer
- Faith Connections (2013):
A sadhu and a child who are shunned from the society. Again, the trailer had got me all worked up about it. But they cancelled the screening in the last moment. Trailer
- The Rocket (2013):
Australian film about a boy who is said to bring bad luck and sets out to change people’s perception by enrolling the most dangerous competition of the year – to build a giant rocket. Trailer
- Satyanweshi (2013):
The last feature made by the infamous and late Rituparno Ghosh on another infamous Indian sleuths of Bengali literature – Byomkesh Bakshi. Trailer