A preview of the line-up of the 19th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival suggests diverse subjects and styles. A total of 232 films will be screened across different venues in Mumbai at the annual festival, which will be held this year between October 12 and 18. Several of these titles were announced at a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday.
The festival, which has been organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image since 1998, will open with Anurag Kashyap’s Mukaabaaz, about a low-caste boxer from Uttar Pradesh
The films in the Indian competition are: Pushpendra Singh’s Ashwatthama, Ektara Collective’s Checkmate, Karma Takapa’s Ralang Road, Devashish Makhijs’s Ajji, Dipesh Jain’s Gali Guliyan, Miranshi Naik’s Juze, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga, Kho Ki Pa Lu by Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar, Rima Das’s Village Rockstars, Shlok Sharma’s Zoo and Rahul Jain’s Machines.
Tributes and classics
The festival missed out on an opportunity last year to pay tribute to the celebrated Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who died of cancer in June 2016. To compensate, the organisers will screen Kiarostami’s last film 24 Frames, a dialogue-free series of sketches, this year.
The highlight of the section of restored film classics is a new print of Andrei Tarkovsky’s science-fiction masterpiece, Stalker (1979). Among the other films are Funeral Parade of Roses (1969), Toshio Matsumoto’s crawl through Tokyo’s gay culture in the 1960s, and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s La Verite, starring Brigitte Bardot as a murder accused.
Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) is back with the gay romance Call Me By Your Name, based on a script by James Ivory and starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet. Joachim Trier (Louder Than Bombs) directs lesbian horror movie Thelma.
Loveless, about emotionally estranged parents who investigate the disappearance of their son, is by festival favourite Andrey Zvyagintsev, director of The Return and Leviathan. Ruben Ostlund’s The Square, which won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival, is an absurdist drama about an art installation that provokes a furious debate.
South Korean director Hong San-soo has been busy in 2017, directing three films, including On the Beach at Night Alone, Claire’s Camera (starring Isabelle Huppert) and The Day After. All three films will be screened in Mumbai.
In Warwick Thorton’s Sweet Country, which was premiered at the Venice Film Festival, an aboriginal worker and his wife have to flee their employer after a crime is committed. Thornton has previously made Samson and Delilah.
The winner of the highest award at the Berlin Film Festival, On Body and Soul from Hungary, follows two women whose lives are intertwined by the same recurring dream. Also from Berlin is Agnieska Holland’s Spoor, about an elderly woman who claims to have witnesses numerous crimes.
Other prestige titles include Aki Kaurismäki’s refugee comedy The Other Side of Hope and Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable, about the affair between French great Jean-Luc Godard and actor Anne Wiazemsky. Tangerine director Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, starring Willem Dafeo, has Disney World as a backdrop and a six-year-old girl and her mother in the foreground.
Acclaimed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Third Murder is a brain-twister about a lawyer’s attempts to get a murder convict’s death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
The Mumbai Film Festival, like some other Indian festivals, has two competition sections, one for Indian titles and the other for foreign ones as well as Indian productions. These are all debut features. The list includes: gay arthouse drama The Wound from South Africa, the fly-on-the-wall family portrait documentary Summer 1993, about an orphaned girl and her new adoptive family.
A pair of siblings and a goat set out on a seriocomic journey across the San Andres islands in Bad Lucky Goat. In Apostasy from the United Kingdom, a young Jehovah’s Witness follower breaks away from the fold. People smuggling is the subject of Turkish debut feature Daha.
Of resonance to Indian cinephiles is I’m not a Witch from Zambia, about a teenager falsely accused of witchcraft.
World cinema titles
Among the films to watch out for in this showcase of the best of international cinema is Daniela Thomas’s Vazante, a black-and-white drama about the arrival of African slaves in Brazil in 1861. The Hong Kong feature Free and Easy is a satire about present-day China seen through the prism of a crime drama. Estonian feature November, which is the country’s official foreign language film Oscar entry, is a folklore-inspired supernatural movie about sexual longing.
April’s Daughter from Mexico chronicles a teenage mother-to-be and her manipulative mother. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts from Indonesia is an updated Western about a woman’s quest for revenge.
In the Russian drama A Gentle Creature, based on a Fyodor Dostoyevsky story, the wife of a prisoner sets out to find out what happened to him after a parcel she sent him is returned.
In Devil’s Freedom from Mexico, eyewitnesses to the ongoing drug war reveal their experiences while wearing facial masks. Vaishali Sinha’s Ask The Sexpert profiles the popular nonagenarian Mumbai Mirror sex advice columnist Mahinder Watsa. Quest examines an American black working class couple shot over a 10-year period. American documentary Dina focuses on an American husband and wife, both of whom have autism.
Prateek Vats’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is an observational documentary about the famous Indian bodybuilder Manohar Aich. Kamal Swaroop’s Pushkar Puran explores the annual fair in the Rajasthani city.
In Nothingwood, Sonia Krondlund profiles indefatigable Afghani B-movie director Salim Shaheen. Michael Glawogger’s documentary Untitled comprises footage shot by the filmmaker, who died in 2014, that was shot in the Balkans, Italy and parts of Africa.