The Mumbai Film Festival has unveiled the list of 63 titles that will be screened in its centerpiece World Cinema section. The selection includes foreign language Oscar entries, documentaries and films by experienced practitioners (including Jean-Luc Godard, Jia Zhangke, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Jafar Panahi, Lars Von Trier, Alfonso Cuaron and the Coen brothers). Among the sections that have been announced are the Indian and international competition. The opening film is Vasan Bala’s comedy Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota, about a man who feels no pain.
3 Faces (Iran) Jafar Panahi has been proscribed from making films by the Iranian government, but there is no stopping him. Since the ban in 2010, Panahi has made This is Not a Film (2011), Closed Curtain (2013) and Taxi (2015). In 3 Faces, Panahi and actress Behnaz Jafari (both playing themselves) set out to look for a girl who is seeking to flee her orthodox family.
A 12-Year Night (Uruguay) Alvaro Brechner’s latest film is based on a real-life incident in the life of the country’s former president. For 12 years from 1972, Jose Mujica was put in solitary confinement by the military dictatorship. The film reveals how the experience defined Mujica, who was praised for his austere lifestyle and his refusal to embrace the trappings of his office.
Amal (Egypt) Documentary filmmaker Mohamed Siam’s debut feature is the coming-of-age tale of Egyptian teenager Amal, who deals with the aftermath of the Tahrir Square protests, the death of her father, and her first romantic relationship.
Ash is the Purest White Chinese master Jia Zhangke’s underworld drama spans 17 years between 2001 and 2018, and chronicles the complicated relationship between a Chinese criminal and a woman who is jailed because of her love for him. Zhangke’s films, including A Touch of Sin and Mountains May Depart, have been screened in Mumbai in the past. In 2016, he was awarded an Excellence of Cinema award by the festival.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs A Western from the Coen brothers, divided into six chapters and starring Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Tom Waits and Brendan Gleeson. Included in the anthology is the story of a bank robber, two travelling performers and a gold prospector The Netflix production will be premiered on the streaming platform on November 16.
Birds of Passage (Colombia) Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent) direct Colombia’s official entry in the foreign film category at the Oscars. The film chronicles a Native American family’s dealing with the illegal drug trade between the 1960s and the ’70s.
BlacKkKlansman (USA) Spike Lee’s latest comedy, based on Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir Black Klansman, stars John David Washington as an African-American police detective from Colorado Springs who infiltrates the local chapter of the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan.
Border (Sweden) In Ali Abbasi’s breakout Cannes hit, a border guard (Eva Melander) has the ability to nab smugglers by smelling their emotions – until the day she meets a man whose body odour defies her investigative abilities.
Burning (South Korea) In this adaptation of Haraki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning by Lee Chang-Dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry), a working-class man get entangled with a former classmate and her mysterious boyfriend. The film was shortlisted for the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is South Korea’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Cold War (Poland) Paweł Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love, Ida) returns to monochrome for his latest film about the love story of a man and a woman (inspired by the director’s parents) set against the Cold War in the 1950s. Cold War is Poland’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
CzechMate: In Search of Jirí Menzel (India) Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s epic-length documentary traces the history of cinema in Czech Republic and Slovakia through interviews with some of the greatest filmmakers to emerge out of these countries.
The Day I Lost My Shadow (Syria) Soudade Kaadan’s magic realist film, set in war-torn Syria, follows a young mother and her eight-year-old child who land up in a village where people lose their shadows every day.
Diamantino (Portugal) Let this film’s official synopsis speak for itself: “Diamantino, the world’s premiere soccer star, loses his special touch and ends his career in disgrace. Searching for a new purpose, the international icon sets out on a delirious odyssey, during which he confronts neo-fascism, the refugee crisis, genetic modification, and the hunt for the source of genius.”
Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot (USA) Gus Van Sant’s biopic stars one of American cinema’s acting greats, Joaquin Phoenix, as quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan, who became a cartoonist after his disability confined him to a wheelchair at the age of 21.
The Eyes of Orson Welles (UK) Irish critic and filmmaker Mark Cousins’s latest documentary takes a different view of the brilliant American director. Cousins looks at Orson Welles’s paintings and sketches, and argues that he filmmaker’s artistic engagement fed into his films.
Fahrenheit 11/9 (USA) American documentary star Michael Moore’s latest film explores the Donald Trump presidency. The documentary has been picked up by PVR Pictures for distribution in India.
First Reformed (USA) Better late than never: Paul Schrader’s Ethan Hawke-starrer was shown at the Venice International Film Festival in 2017, and has finally arrived in Mumbai. Hawke plays a Protestant minister who gets involved with the wife of a radical environmentalist (Amanda Seyfried) while grappling with dwindling attendance at his 250-year-old church.
Fugue (Poland) A woman with a fleeting memory of her past emerges from the wilderness in Agnieszka Smoczynska’s drama.
Generation Wealth (USA) Lauren Greenfield’s documentary examines the global obsession with wealth and consumerism. Created over two-and-a-half decades, Greenfield’s film travels from Los Angeles to Moscow, Dubai, Monaco, and cities in China.
The Gentle Indifference of the World (Kazakhstan) Young lovers Saltanat and Kuandyk leave their village and travel to the city in an attempt to free Saltanat’s mother from prison.
Grass (South Korea) Prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo has rolled out two films in a single calendar year. No big deal – in 2017, he had three titles (On the Beach at Night Alone, Claire’s Camera and The Day After). In the 66-minute Grass, a young woman eavesdrops on conversations at a coffee shop.
Hong has a second film in Mumbai: the 95-minute Hotel by the River, which centres on an awkward family reunion.
House of My Fathers (Sri Lanka) Suba Sivakumaran’s film offers a oblique take on the Sri Lankan civil war. The film looks at two warring villages in Sri Lanka (one Tamil, the other Sinhalese) that come together to fighting rising infertility among the villagers.
The House That Jack Built No film festival is complete without a provocation from Lars Von Trier. The film follows psychopath Jack (Matt Dillon) as he builds up his reputation as a serial killer one corpse at a time. The cast includes Uma Thurman and Bruno Ganz.
The Image Book (Switzerland) Un Film De Jean-Luc Godard. The French New Wave iconoclast’s essay film on the construction of images is a mesh of clips of classic films, documentary footage, a voiceover by Godard and news reports.
In My Room (Germany) In Ulrich Kohler’s first film since Sleeping Sickness (2011), a Berlin resident turns on the television to realise that he might be the last human on Earth.
Kusama – Infinity Heather Lenz’s documentary profiles blockbuster artist Yayoi Kusama, beloved in the art world for using polka dots and pumpkins in her designs and creating rooms filled with mirrors. The film reveals that the success has come after a long and hard struggle.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (China) Acclaimed Chinese director Bi Gan’s 2015 debut Kaili Blues had a 40-minute sequence. In the new film, there’s an hour-long sequence that unfolds without cuts. Luo returns to Kaili, which he had fled several years ago, in search of the woman he loved.
Madeline’s Madeline (USA) Josephine Decker’s film is set in the world of contemporary dance in New York City. The line between reality and fiction get erased for the titular teenager (Helena Howard in a breakout performance) as she auditions for a stage production.
Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (USA) Steve Loveridge’s documentary is the story of Mathangi Arulpragasam, the Sri Lankan rapper of Tamil origin. The film follows 22 years in the life of the Paper Planes artist, known as M.IA, and includes section on her childhood and her political activism.
Memories of My Body (Indonesia) Garin Nugroho (Of Love and Eggs, Opera Jawa) continues his engagement with the performing arts. The coming-of-age drama Memories of My Body explores a gay dancer’s struggle to be accepted in a conservative society.
The Miseducation Of Cameron Post (USA) Desiree Akhavan’s film stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a teenager who is sent to a gay conversion therapy centre after she is caught having sex with a classmate. The centre subjects its inmates to harsh discipline, homophobic statements and Christian rock songs.
Mug (Poland) Małgorzata Szumowska’s drama won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival this year. A man who loses his face goes in for facial reconstruction surgery and returns to his hometown, but encounters hostile neighbours.
Our Time (Mexico) Mexican director Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light, Post Tenebras Lux) stars along with his wife, Natalia Lopez. The marital bond between a poet and his wife, who rears fighting bulls, is tested when she falls in love with a horse trainer.
Pity (Greece) A lawyer quickly overcomes his grief when his wife slips into a coma and sets out on a journey of self-discovery in Babis Makridis’s black comedy.
Rafiki (Kenya) Wanuri Kahiu’s lesbian romance was initially banned in its home country. The film is based on the short story Jambula Tree by Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko. Kahiu sued the Kenyan government, and won her case for representing her country in the foreign language category at the Oscars.
Roma (Mexico) Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white drama won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical film revolves around a middle-class family and its housekeeper. Mexico’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar will be released on Netflix on December 14.
Ruben Brandt, Collector (Hungary) In Milorad Krstic’s animated thriller Ruben Brandt, Collector, a psychotherapist sets out to steal 13 paintings that cause him psychological suffering. A private detective soon gets on his trail.
Samouni Road (Italy) Stafano Savona’s portrait of a Palestinian family in Gaza before and after the 2009 Israeli invasion includes live action, scratchboard animation and drone footage recreations.
Shadow of the Devil (Philippines) Indefatigable Filipino director Lav Diaz, who is known for his enormously long examinations of his country’s social and political upheavals, has turned out a relatively short film in Season of the Devil (234 minutes). After a doctor who operates a clinic in a military-controlled village disappears, her poet husband starts looking for her.
Shoplifters (Japan) Prolific Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eEda won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his examination of a family that steals to survive. Kore-eda’s films have been shown in Mumbai in the past, including After the Storm (2016) and The Third Murder (2017).
Sorry to Bother You (USA) Boots Riley’s acclaimed debut feature is an absurdist comedy set at the intersection of race, aspiration and labour rights. An African-American telemarketer put on a white accent to rise up the corporate ladder, but must do a rethink when confronted by his activist girlfriend.
Supa Modo (Kenya) The family of a nine-year-old terminally ill girl strives to fulfill her last wish – to be a real-life superhero.
Three Identical Strangers (USA) Seeing is believing in Tim Wardle’s documentary. Three men who were adopted find out that they are triplets separated at birth.
Too Late to Die Young (Chile) Dominiga Sotamayor’s coming-of-age tale follows two adolescents on the brink of adulthood. The film is set in a rural community in 1990, and is drawn from the filmmaker’s life.
The Wild Pear Tree (Turkey) Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s latest drama is Turkey’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. An aspiring writer finds his dreams thwarted by family debt.