film festivals

Masters new and old (and some in the making) at this year’s Mumbai Film Festival

At least 230 films will be screened, including winners from the major international festivals.

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

Indian competition

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.

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Sexy Durga (2017).

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.

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Stalker.

Auteur driven

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.

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The Square.

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.

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Loveless (2017).

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.

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The Third Murder.

International competition

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.

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Daha.

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.

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A Gentle Creature.

Documentaries

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.

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Nothingwood.
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.