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.

Play
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.

Play
Nothingwood.
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.