October 31, 2013

Mumbai 2013: Epilogue

This was my fifth year at Mumbai Film Festival. And by far, it was the most well-organised. Not that it was free of technical and management glitches, but an intelligent programming, allocating more shows to the "hottest" films and in theatres with larger capacities, and the introduction of the online reservation of seats made it more pleasant than all its previous editions. I, personally, was apprehensive about the online booking system. But it worked! It was simple and much more comfortable than waiting in the queues for long hours. All you had to do was book your seats as soon as the window opened for the respective day, and then be there fifteen minutes before the show began. This ensured two things - every morning, we knew which movies we are going to watch that day, without bothering to run around fighting for entry or seats. And two, since it saved the time we would have otherwise spent on queues, we could grab something to eat, or just take care of other personal matters without the fear of losing the chance to watch those films. Also, if you logged in late and the movie of your choice is booked, you can at least book some other movie and come to peace with the fact, unlike before when we stood in queues for hours and then were told that the show is full and then realised that we cannot even go to another show as it has already started. What I also liked about this system was that it did not allow seats going empty, as I initially feared. Every show had a few dozens seats booked by those who never turned up. Before the show started, those seats were given to people who wanted to watch that movie but could not book online. Overall, it is a welcome move by the organisers, and all it requires from us is to book the seats for our favourite choices well in advance.

So yes. A successful festival. I watched 33 movies, my second highest score, after 34 in 2009. The list included the latest offerings of film-makers like Takashi Miike, Jia Zhangke, Tsai Ming-Liang, Richard Linklater, Francois Ozon, Michel Gondry, Jafar Panahi, Coen Brothers, Philippe Garrel, and Leos Carrax. This time I also watched three documentaries. You must watch "Who is Dayani Crystal" and "The Act of Killing" if non-fiction interests you. The screening of "Sulemani Keeda" made by my friends was fun, especially to see the audience react to something we have been associated for a long time now. Also, for the first time the competition movies selected and watched by me ended as award winners. And the restored print of Yasujiro Ozu's masterpiece - "Tokyo Story" completed the experience.

People generally assume festival films to be intense and difficult to watch. However, I watched at least six superbly entertaining, extremely well-made films that can cheer you up whenever you watch them. Please go for these if you want to have a good time. Click on the names to watch the trailers:
And if you are looking for some fine modern cinema, and are willing to indulge, or are eager to experiment, and are ready for some sincere, patient viewing, you must watch these:
In 2009, I had watched the unforgettable "Los Bastardos". His next feature film, "Heli" brought the director Amat Escalante the Best Director award at Cannes, and is Mexico's official entry for the Oscars next year. Escalante, who is only three films old, has come up strongly as a director to watch, and each of his next works will be eagerly awaited. This is a new pleasure I discovered, of such festivals - discovering new film-makers whom the world is discovering with you and then hope that more of their films will come to your city in the years to come. Having watched more than 150 films in the last five editions of Mumbai Film Festival, the wait for "Mumbai 2014" has already begun...

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