MAMI unveils movie line-up for Mumbai Film Festival

MUMBAI: The MAMI committee led by chairman Shyam Benegal and trustees Yash Chopra, Jaya Bachchan, Amit Khanna, Shabana Azmi and Amol Palekar unveiled the line-up for the 11th annual Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), which consists of 200 films from 56 countries. All the trustees except Bachchan and the chairman Benegal were present at the unveiling.

All of the international films to be screened in the main sections of this year’s festival will be Indian, Asian or world premieres. MFF is a Reliance Big Entertainment initiative and has the distinction of being the only international film festival in India to be organized by an independent body of practicing film professionals.

Palekar said, "This festival will not only make all of us Mumbaikars proud but it is also the first festival which is not organised by the government but by the industry. We’ve come a long way with the leadership and guidance of Shyam Benegal and all the seniors like Yashji, we have brought this festival to a level where it would be a pride of place in the history of Indian cinema."

"This year the festival has got a huge support from the Relaince Group and this helps us to expand our horizon. A great city like Mumbai needed a festival of this stature," added Khanna.

Azmi said, "India is a cinema loving country, infact we love our films so much that till a long-time we did not even open out the doors to the other parts of the world because we had such a large audience, we used to just be happy with that but it is natural that a country which loves cinema whose hub is Mumbai should hold a festival that all of us should be very proud of. That is the intention to hold this festival. It lies in the shoulders of the members of our film industry here in Mumbai to make this festival a success. For any festival to be successful we need good films, which we promise you we have, we need a market which we have this year and glamour which we have in plenty. This festival will also make it a habit for all Mumbaikars to mark this period in their calendar and reserve that time for the Mumbai Film Festival."

Information and Broadcasting Minister of India Mrs. Ambika Soni will be the chief guest at the opening ceremony, to be held at the Fun Cinema, Andheri on 29 October.

The MFF jury members include Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Schrader( Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, American Gigolo), Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Phillippine filmmaker Brillante Mendoza and former director of Locarno Film Festival Irene Bignardi. Films in competition will be viewed on 8 screens at Fun Cinemas (Andheri), Metro BIG Cinemas (Marine Lines) & BIG Cinemas R City (Ghatkopar).

Shashi Kapoor will be honoured with the Indian Lifetime achievement award along with director-producer Yash Chopra who will be felicitated by FIAPF, the international federation of film producers association.

Academy-Award Winning Director Steven Soderberghs feature film The Informant will open the 2009 festival on 29 October. The Informant is a dark political comedy based on true events and the 2000 non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. The film stars Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey.

Greek Master Theo Angelopoulos’s review of the past century, The Dust of Time will close the festival on 5 November. The Dust of Time is the second part of Angelopoulos’ Trilogy that takes place in the former Soviet Union, the Austrian-Hungarian borders, Italy and New York between 1953 and 1974. The film covers the eve of Stalin’s death, Nixon’s resignation in the United States and the fall of the Greek junta.

The festival is divided in five sections, featuring the best & latest world cinema offering in the last 10 months. These include 13 Feature Films of first time Directors from across the world that will compete for the cash awards of US$ 150,000. Indian Frame will showcase the best 15 Indian films made during last one year. Reel Real will be dedicated to feature length documentary films. Above the cut will present 14 first feature films of extra ordinary cinematic merit. World Cinema section will showcase the most anticipated films from festivals all over the world.

MAMI will be honoring five film personalities with a presentation of distinctive awards with a showcase of their films. Honorees include: Theo Angelopoulos who will receive the International Lifetime Achievement Award; noted Indian film actor-producer Shashi Kapoor, who will be honored with the Indian Lifetime Achievement Award; Amitabh Bachchan, whose forty-year film career will be celebrated during the closing festivities on 5 November; and screenwriter/director Paul Schrader. The Festival will also pay tribute to the late legendary filmmaker,B. R. Chopra with a screening his film Naya Daur, which will be presented by his son Ravi Chopra.

This year MFF introduced the Mumbai Young Critics which is comprised of 20 pre-selected Mumbai college students who will form a jury and vote for films to receive the Mumbai Young Critics Award and the Silver Gateway of India Trophy. In addition, Dimensions Mumbai will return for the second year with a short film competition for young Mumbaikars, under 25 years of age. Dimensions Mumbai is the brain child of MAMI Trustee Jaya Bachchan and will screen twenty-five short films featuring the theme Mumbai, The Metropolis — showcasing any aspect of life in the metropolis which will vie for a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 lakh.

As a first step towards setting up a full-fledged Film Market, MFF is introducing the Film Business Centre in order to provide a networking platform for Indian distributors, producers, television channels, foreign sales agents, and festival directors to enhance the international sales of Indian films. The Film Business Centre will be hosted for four days from 30 October to 3 November, 2009 at Fun Cinemas, Andheri which is the central hub for MFF.

This year MFF carries one of the richest cash awards for its International Competition for directors who are debuting feature films with a cash prize of US$ 100,000 (approx. Rs. 50, 00,000). Additional awards include the Golden Gateway of India trophy for the Best Film, the Silver Gateway of India trophy and cash prize of USD $50,000 (approx. Rs. 25, 00,000) for the Jury Grand Prize. The best talent from these films will be awarded the Silver Gateway of India trophy and all films in this category are Indian premiers. Lastly, this year MAMI is introducing the Audience Choice Award [Silver Gateway of India trophy and cash prize of USD $20,000 (approx. Rs. 10, 00,000)]. Films from all sections except the retrospective and tributes are eligible.