<On the scene: Sailesh Ghelani>
Bombay’s very own MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) festival for world cinema (thank god we have it) is bigger this year. There were plenty of screens to watch dozens of award-winning and interesting films at three different theatres (Cinemax Versova & Sion as well as Metro Big Cinema).
The opening night took off with Brad Pitt’s interesting take on baseball strategy, Moneyball. Check out the pictures below for who came and saw…
The festivities begin:
The next few days saw hundreds of avid film buffs, critics, reviewers and celebrities throng the key venue at Cinemax Versova. Anurag Kashyap, Shyam Benegal, Abhishek Kapoor, Sarika, Kiran Rao, Yash Chopra and several international directors made appearances. Check out the pictures below…
Of course it’s physically impossible to watch all the films being shown at the multiple screens and venues. When will they get that damn cloning technology on the market?
A couple of movies I caught and worth mentioning are The Artist (Director: Michel Hazanavicius, France), Apartment In Athens (Director: Ruggero Diplaola, Italy), Above Us Only Sky (Director: Jan Schomburg, Germany), My Little Princess (Director: Eva Ionesco, France), Montevideo – Taste of a Dream (Director: Dragan Bjelogrlic, Serbia), Habemus Papam (Director: Nanni Moretti, Italy-France) and Pina (Director: Wim Wenders, Germany-France-UK).
The Artist, which kicked off the 4th Rendez-vous with French Cinema, was simply wonderful. The director pays homage to silent films. And so, the film is black and white and almost completely ‘silent’. Just like they did in the old days, the music sets the mood, important dialogue is put up in text slides and expressions do all the talking. Poignant, funny and brilliantly acted, The Artist is a revelation of sorts. That you can still make a film without sound, colour or audible dialogue and make it entertaining. Jean Dujardin as the ‘silent film actor’ and Berenice Bejo as the young upstart getting into the ‘talkies’ (talking movies) are delightful.
The Artist has several well-known Hollywood stars too: John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller.
My Little Princess (that won top honours at the festival) is about a single mother Hannah and her very young daughter Violetta who taken by her glam-mom’s new persona of photographer starts posing for her. But mother has more risqué pictures in mind and thus begins a twisted and antagonistic partnership.
Above Us Only Sky is a slightly strange film about a woman living with her husband who ends up killing himself. On a quest to find the truth about his death she realises he’s not what he appeared to be. She also finds lust at first sight with a man she meets along the way. Even at the end you’re not sure of which parts are real and which are imagined.
Montevideo – Taste of a Dream is set in 1930s Belgrade. It’s about a group of young men, their lives and relationships and how their small, local football team aspires, trains and dreams of making it to be the national team at the first World Cup in Yugoslavia. It is charming and full of little life wisdoms. It is a tad long in running time though and the end is a bit saccharine.
Apartment In Athens was another of my favourites. With the backdrop of the World War, the film focuses on a Greek family and their Nazi officer ‘non-paying guest’. Mainly set in their house, it deals with their sacrifices, their fears, their humour in the face of adversity and their strange relationship with the ‘enemy’.
And for more fun, Habemus Papam is sure to tickle your fancy. It’s about a newly elected Pope who is reluctant to take over his duties eventually running away from the Vatican. While the cat is away, his cardinals play! Director Nanni Moretti also stars in the film as the psycho-analyst for the Pope who ultimately goes through some cathartic counselling of his own.
The last film I watched was Pina 3-D. Yes it was 3-D! Wim Wenders’ tribute to German dance legend Pina Bausch (who died in 2009), this film is a sort of bio-docu about the mysterious dance instructor seen through the eyes of her students. Scene after scene her adoring pupils construct elaborate and simple set pieces of dance and fantasy. Through their performances and uniquely done interviews, you get a sense of how brilliant and transcendental this soft-spoken teacher was. The 3-D gives depth and a magical sheen to the wondrous enactments that take centre stage in places as varied as in the middle of a road, a factory and forest area.
Of course there were films like Moneyball, The Whistleblower and The Ides of March that will have regular releases in India, so don’t worry. Don’t forget to read the reviews here.
There were some technical problems and apparently a screening was cancelled. When I watched My Little Princess, the projection stopped three times. Once, the picture was upside down. But the suburban audience heckled the projectionists from their slumber and it was eventually corrected. Strange how audiences in different parts of the city vary. In town at the Metro screening of Montevideo – Taste of a Dream, towards the end the subtitles went out of the bottom of the screen. But the audience didn’t make a sound. It was corrected a while later but had it been in Andheri, the audience would’ve brought the house down.
Check out all the winners and films at MumbaiFilmFest.com