Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MAMI Diaries: Day 7

‘Court’ing success in the city

The week-long celebration of cinephilia at the 16th Mumbai Film Festival ended on a high note with David Ayer’s Brad Pitt-starrer Fury, set during the World War II, as its closing film. Earlier in the day, the movie buffs caught up on the best of world cinema, many of which were repeat screenings. The two notable films on this day were The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius’ French drama The Search and Kim-ki Duk’s South Korean thriller One On One. With riveting performances by Berenice Bejo and the nine-year-old Abdul Khalim Mamutsiev, The Search, set during the 90s’ war-torn Chechnya, was a moving tale of a young boy taken in by a woman working with the Human Rights Committee and their special relationship. On the other hand, Duk’s revenge drama was a gory affair about seven suspects who are hunted down after the murder of a girl.

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Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Aamir Khan

The highlight of this day was indeed a glittering awards ceremony, attended by Bollywood’s crème de la crème including Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Aamir Khan. Peter Webber-led International Competition jury presented the Golden Gateway of India award for Best Film to Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court – that also won the Best Director award and Special Jury Mention for the Ensemble Cast -- while the Mexican drama Gueros bagged The Silver Gateway of India trophy. Meanwhile, French actor Martin Loizillon earned the Best Actor trophy for Fever and the Silver Gateway of India trophy for Best Actress was given to Liron Ben-Shlush for her exceptional performance in Next To Her. Finally, the jury award for Best Work Camera was bagged by Anthony ‘Tat’ Radcliffe for his cinematography in the historical action film ’71.

Within the India Gold section, Bikas Ranjan Mishra’s Chauranga was adjudged the Best Film and won the Golden Gateway of India award while Avinash Arun’s Killa won the Silver Gateway, with the film also receiving special award for its ensemble cast. In the short film competition, Dimensions Mumbai, Disha Rindani’s Mumbai 70 won the best film award while Shristi Jain’s Unfit received the second prize. Ramachandra Gaonkar’s Selfie received a special mention by the jury.

- Krutika Behrawala (Contributing Writer at FIW)

Monday, October 20, 2014

MAMI Diaries: Day 6

The masters at MAMI

With the 16th Mumbai Film Festival slowly inching to a close, the city cinephiles made a dash to catch up as many movies as they could and they were not disappointed. The second last day of the festival offered an array of international fare including Olivier Assayas’ Clouds Of Sils Maria. Starring the acclaimed Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz, the film is a story of an actress, Maria (Binoche), who, at the peak of her career, is asked to perform in a revival play, however, not the central character that actually made her famous but another, more pathetic one and how her personal assistant (Stewart) helps her prep for it.

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                                                   Imtiaz Ali, Kunal Kapoor, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani

Also on showcase were Edward Berger’s German adolescent drama Jack, Michel Hazanavicius’ French drama The Search, Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, the biography of the powerhouse fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall – set in Ireland of 1920s, a stirring story of the political activist Jimmy Gralton and his quest to reopen a dance hall that was shut down by the parish.

Indian director Chaitanya Tamhane’s debut feature Court, that follows a court case in which a folk singer is tried for abetting the suicide of a manhole worker with his inflammatory song and bagged an award at the 71st Venice International Film Festival, opened to a packed house at this festival.

On the sidelines was an insightful roundtable conversation conducted by Imtiaz Ali with Shyam Benegal, Nafisa Ali, Govind Nihalani and Kunal Kapoor post which, Benegal’s 1978 period drama Junoon was screened. Meanwhile, Kal Penn and Rajpal Yadav launched the first look and behind-the-scenes footage from their upcoming film Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, a social thriller based on the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984.

- Krutika Behrawala (Contributing Writer for FIW)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A warm welcome for Amar, Akbar and Tony

UK-based Atul Malhotra’s debut feature film Amar, Akbar & Tony, the closing film showcased under the Film India Worldwide section at the 16th Mumbai Film Festival, met with a packed house and a highly positive response. Interestingly, this screening marked the film’s World Premiere.

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Rez Kempton and Atul Malhotra

With a sly take-off from the 1977 Bollywood lost-and-found comedy, Amar, Akbar, Anthony, this film is a 10-year journey of three childhood friends -- Amar, Akbar and Tony – looking for love and dealing with absurdities of life. Laced with humour (one of the lines go ‘We shifted from Punjab in India to Southall, Punjab in London’) and Bollywood hits of the 80s, the film takes a harsh turn when one of its leads is arrested for murder and also touches upon rigid social taboos that Asian communities in the UK live by.

Present at the screening were Malhotra and the film’s lead actor, Rez Kempton, who has worked in several UK-based TV series and films. Said Malhotra, “While many might make fun of Bollywood, I love watching Hindi movies and as a result, decided to use a title that is a take-off on the hit Bollywood film.” Apart from the director and actor’s friends, also present at the screening were Pitobash, who was cast in the international venture Million Dollar Arm that released earlier this year and British music composer Andrew MacKay.

- Krutika Behrawala (Contributing Writer for FIW)

MAMI Diaries: Day 4

With every passing day, the cinema-hungry audiences at the 16th Mumbai Film Festival only keep increasing and the varied line-up of films ensures that every taste is catered to. From Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, that could well be the first Iranian western featuring a female vampire to Lech Majewski’s Polish love story Field of Dogs to Chinese master Zhang Yimou’s war drama Coming Home to Matthew Warchus’ real life inspired British drama Pride to Lars von Trier’s much-hyped sex addiction drama Nymphomaniac Volume 1, there was lots to catch up on the weekend for cinegoers.

clip_image002The film that drew in maximum crowds was undoubtedly Party Girl. Helmed by directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, the French drama, that won Camera d’Or at 2014 Cannes Film Festival, is a story of a bar hostess nearing sixties, who sets out to address her fear of ageing. With her realistic performance, Angélique Litzenburger, who plays the protagonist, ensured that the audience was a part of her party too.

Also witnessing a packed house was Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s social drama Two Days, One Night. A woman’s struggle of asking her colleagues to vote for her to stay on over their bonus, when she is laid off the job, this Marion Cotillard starrer received thumbs up for its sensitive and simplistic narrative as well as the lead’s stellar performance.

On the sidelines was a presentation by Anurag Kashyap on his 2004 release Black Friday, a gritty and dark portrayal of the investigations in the aftermath of the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. A session on music in film, attended by many budding composers and filmmakers, saw Frenchman Laurent Koppitz from FAMES Project Macedonia in conversation with the British composer Andrew McKay, providing insights into the realities and costs involved in music compositions for films.

- Krutika Behrawala (Contributing writer for FIW)

Friday, October 17, 2014

MAMI Diaries: Day 2

 

A day of classics and contemporaries

clip_image002On the second day of the 16th Mumbai Film Festival, the audiences revisited some of the classics in world cinema and at the same time, got a taste of the latest fare from across the globe. As a toast to the French actress, Catherine Denevue, the festival screened her 1966 classic rom-com A Matter of Resistance and later in the evening, her most recent Dans La Cour (In The Courtyard), both drawing maximum crowds.

Celebrating Arab Cinema was Saleh Abu Seif’s 1960 black and white social drama The Beginning & The End, while Frank Capra’s 1934 classic It Happened One Night opened the Restored Classics section at the fest and Grigoriy Chukhray’s Ballad of a Soldier, the 1959 black and white Russian classic marked the Celebration of 90 Years of MOSFILM Studio. Closer home, Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen, too, received the fest’s salute as Dibakar Banerjee and Tigmanshu Dhulia, who worked as the casting director for the film, presented this cult classic.

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Dibakar Banerjee and Tigmanshu Dhulia

Meanwhile, the contemporary fare included Reese Witherspoon starrer The Good Lie, a story of hope, honour and humanity, about Sudanese refugees (representing the ‘lost boys’ of Sudan) who win a lottery to come to the USA and settle for a better life. Witherspoon’s restrained performance along with a smooth narrative laced with humour capturing the culture shock faced by the refugees, made this film worth a watch. The debut works showcased on the second day included Safi Yazdanian’s Iranian film What’s The Time In Your World? and Sofia Norlin’s Broken Hill Blues, a teen-centric drama offering a peek into modern day Swedish Cinema.

- Krutika Behrawala
(Contributing Writer for FIW)