Mumbai Festival Strengthens India Focus

The 17th edition of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival which gets under way today (Oct. 29-Nov. 5) is looking inwards. While the festival will serve up international festival favourites like “The Lobster”, “The Assassin” and “Dheepan” amongst others, the focus will be on Indian cinema.

MAMI should be a place to discover Indian films, both for audiences in India and for the foreign market. We hope to be a springboard for new filmmakers from India, and a space where we can collectively help forge a new direction for Indian cinema,” said festival chair Kiran Rao.

As previously announced Hansal Mehta’s Indian gay rights drama “Aligarh” will open the festival after playing at Busan and London, and French veteran Claude Lelouch delivers India set “Un Plus Une” as the closing film.

The Indian programming is a mix of titles that have won global festival acclaim, including “Thithi,” “Angry Indian Goddesses,” “The Fourth Direction,” “Interrogation,” “The River of Fables,” “Umrika,” “For The Love of A Man,” and “Island City,” as well as fresh films like “The Head Hunter,” “Munroe Island,” “The Violin Player,” “A Calling” “G – A Wanton Heart,” and “Song of The Horned Owl.”

The festival’s Mumbai Film Market will present 24 Indian features to a plethora of local buyers and international companies including Lionsgate, Cinetic Media and Rapid Eye Movies.

Festival director Anupama Chopra is looking forward to a series of events celebrating the Bollywood industry, which is based in Mumbai. “MAMI Movie Mela, our event for fans is a dream I’ve nurtured for many years,” said Chopra. The Mela will feature masterclasses by the “P.K.” writing team of Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi and veteran actor Rishi Kapoor (“D-Day”); in conversation events with Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone (“Piku”) and Varun Dhawan (“Badlapur”); and a cast and crew reunion of Shekhar Kapur’s 1987 hit “Mr. India.”

The festival was on its knees last year due to lack of sponsorship until a crowdfunding appeal rescued it. Both Rao and Chopra say that finding backers was a difficult process but they have managed to rope in Reliance Jio Infocomm and Star India as key sponsors, with Reliance Industries’ Nita Ambani coming on board as co-chair.

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