October 29 marked the onset of Mumbai's Jio MAMI film festival. With all the film-lovers and story-telling enthusiasts across the city swarming from theatre to theatre, we stand eagerly breathing in that intoxicating air of art and talent. Even though last year's festival was challenged by the chief sponsor backing out, forcing it to turn into a crowd-funded affair, this year sees MAMI bouncing back stronger than ever. The veteran board of trustees, helmed by Shyam Benegal, have passed the torch to the next generation chaired by filmmaker Kiran Rao, who slogged tirelessly to put together this 17th edition, and their hard work has truly paid off. With the new leadership in place, this change called for a few novel tweaks in the festival itself. Such as, the Lifetime Achievement Award has been re-christened the Excellence In Cinema award this year, which Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai and Hindi film screenwriters Salim-Javed will receive. Another new feature is October 31's Movie Mela--a one day event at Bandra's Mehboob Studio that will host masterclasses by Rishi Kapoor, Rajkumar Hirani and the likes.
Stimulating story-telling takes centre stage as this year received 248 feature films submissions in 29 different languages from across the globe. The audience will be treated to 31 Indian films that have never been shown before in India, with Hansal Mehta's Aligarh opening the festival. Sifting through the wide range of Indian as well as international films being screened from October 29 to November 5, we picked out 15 particularly enticing films from across Jio MAMI's various categories to cover almost all our bases. From India Gold and World Cinema to Restored Cinema and International Competition, we bring you a compilation of hand-picked feature films and documentaries that you absolutely cannot miss this year. So scroll on for your must-see film list, and chalk up your personal MAMI schedule as you go.
I. Angry Indian Goddesses directed by Pan Nalin
...where realistic human emotions surface through a powerful, relatable narrative for urban Indian women.
II. Apu Trilogy directed by Satyajit Ray
...Giving you a flashback into 1950s iconic Indian cinema.
Screenings: 1st November, 10:45am, 1:45pm, 4:15pm (trilogy), PVR Juhu 3. 2nd November, 1:30pm, Regal (Pather Panchali standalone). 3rd November, 1:30pm, Regal (Aparajito). 4th November. 1:30pm, Regal (Apur Sansar).
III. Cities of Sleep by Shaunak Sen
...A beautifully crafted glimpse into how Delhi's underbelly sleeps.
Narrating an aspect of Delhi's urban underclass, Shaunak Sen's 1 hour 14 minute visual account documents the informal economies surrounding the moonlit sleeping culture of the city's poorest. Following Shakeel, the film's protagonist, around Meena Bazaar in the country's capital, we journey through roughly assembled road side shelters, and charpais lining the side walk. This beautifully crafted realistic account gives viewers a unique insight into the night-time that is so rarely noticed.
Screenings: 1st November, 9:30pm, PVR Phoenix 2. 2nd November, 2pm, PVR ECX 1.
IV. Dheepan directed by Jacques Audiard
...Where war is a difficult memory to forget.
Language: Tamil, English, French
V. G - A Wanton Heart directed by Rahul Dahiya
...Exploring the culture of sexual repression in Haryana.
Screenings: 30th October, 7pm, PVR ECX 1. 1st November, 6:15pm, PVR Phoenix 1. 4th November, 3:45pm, PVR Juhu 1.
VI. Ixcanul Volcano directed by Jayro Bustamante
...Giving you a taste of the clash between the ancient and the modern.
Language: Spanish, Maya
Country: Guatemala, France
VII. Mina Walking by Yosef Baraki
...The journey of a young girl struggling through her harsh reality.
Country: Canada, Afghanistan
VIII. Nie yin niang (The Assassin) directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien
...a beautifully composed and equally thrilling wuxia film.
IX. Placebo directed by Abhay Kumar
...A bold representation of an Indian student's obstacle-ridden reality.
Language: English, Hindi
Country: India, Finland
X. Room directed by Lenny Abrahamson
...the haunting tale of a mother, a son and an 11-by-11 foot room.
Screenings: 30th October, 4pm, PVR ECX 2. 31st October, 10:30am, PVR Phoenix 3. 1st November, 9pm, PVR Juhu 2.
XI. Taxi directed by Jafar Panahi
...Where a hidden camera reveals the social challenges of Tehran.
XII. The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
...A satirical narrative on single people in a dystopian world.
Language: English, French
Countries: Ireland, UK, Greece, France, Netherlands
XIII. The Forbidden Room by Guy Maddin
...Where absurdist eccentricities are a norm.
XIV. Thithi directed by Raam Reddy
...Where black comedy meets beautifully fluid storytelling.
Country: India, USA
XV. Umrika directed by Prashant Nair
...Portraying India's Western-world obsession through a young man's journey.
Special Mention: JIO MAMI 2015's Opening Film
XVI. Aligarh directed by Hansal Mehta
...A poignant film on sexual-orientation discrimination inspired by real-life events.
[The films selected for this compilation range across various categories of Jio MAMI 2015. While all these 15 films are must-sees, there are plenty more great visual narratives featuring at this festival. Click here for the complete schedule.]
Compiled by: Rhea Almeida