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The movies screened at the annual MAMI festival go beyond the scope of entertainment and become instruments of social interaction and cultural exchange. The entire experience is like planning a vacation into movie land, exults Nikhil Katara.

MMumbai has been tagged with many names like the city of dreams, and the city that never sleeps. But once a year, Mumbai also transforms into a city that becomes home to films from across the world. The Jio MAMI film festival opened its gates to cinema aficionados across the country on 12 October 2017. MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) festival, which had started on a small scale almost two decades ago, has grown phenomenally and associated with many names in the film industry, to make a global event of repute.

The PVR franchise proudly hosts movies across all its multiplexes, and the traditional single screen theatres like Regal are also a part of these screenings. The fervour with which movie goers consume cinema in these seven days that comprise the festival, be it from India or from another country, can be undoubtedly looked at as a new religion, that of cinema. The convention is that of movie makers, philosophers, poets, and just plain film lovers. The transits between movies and the wait in the queues for the next film has known to forge great friendships and initiate interesting conversations. The festival beckons the love of cinema and fills the air with stories from all across the globe.

What the festival achieves is an amalgamation of cultures, political views, aesthetic choices, religious commentaries in the guise of film. The movies aired at the festival go beyond the scope of entertainment, and become instruments of social interaction and cultural exchange. The films come from Russia, the United States of America, France, India, Columbia, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom among other countries. Each country offers a window that lets the viewer into the world that is inhabited by its people.

The festival categories
The festival’s schedule has many categories. ‘India Gold’ showcases the best of Indian films, ‘The international competition’ showcases first time fiction and documentaries, ‘Dimensions’ showcases short fiction and documentaries, ‘A tribute’ section pays homage to legends who have just passed away (This year it payed tribute to Om Puri), ‘After dark’ showcases suspense and action packed movies, ‘World cinema’ has the best of world movies in one forum, ‘India story’ tells tales from all across India, ‘Discovering India’ is the cinema made by Indian diaspora, ‘Rendezvous’ focuses on French cinema in particular, besides these, there are stories focusing on children cinema, stories from the homeland in Marathi, and alternative cinema. In all, every section is full with movies, and it is impossible to watch all of them in the little time that there is in the week. Hence the audiences need to be wise and well researched. The kind of movies that attracts them needs to be the purpose of their research. The schedule has to be made bearing in mind which movies are playing in which theatre. So all in all the entire experience is like planning a vacation into movie land.
Some of the most attractive movies this year at the Jio Mami film festival were :

The Mother: Darren Aranovsky’s masterpiece tells the tale of a poet at a normal comfortable home where he invites many people, to the displeasure of his wife. The philosophy of the film emerges when the house starts to break down under the benevolence of the poet, while the mother of his child suffers in the bargain irreparably.

Ashwatthama: The Indian legend of Ashwatthama forms the underlying myth that is the thread that binds this tale. A child loses his mother at the onset, while she narrates to him the gruesome myth of the undead and immortal Ashwatthama. He searches this myth in his life, and lives it.

Loving Vincent: A phenomenal movie that is fully hand painted. The story is that of Vincent Van Gogh, and his unfortunate death. The movie unfolds as a whodunit, as Vincent’s portraits, and discuss the possibility of it being a murder. The aesthetic of this film is path breaking in cinema. The film has been painted in 65,000 frames. Every frame in this movie is a painting, literally.

The Loveless: A couple find themselves in a loveless marriage, the brunt of which is borne by their child. Their search for love leads them into other relationships. Their hate manifests into their child’s abrupt loss, as he goes missing. Search efforts go awry and their new relationships find the old lovelessness.

The Other Side of Hope: In what is a startling comedy that breathes into the complex refugee situation in Finland, this story tells the tale of a Syrian travelling salesman who finds himself in a strange country. The brilliant nature of humour in this movie transcends being funny, and showcases the absurdity of it all, as hope is as abstruse as life is.

The Florida Project: The Florida Project is perhaps one film that has one of the most heartrending performances this year at MAMI. It tells the tale of Moonee and her mother, as their happiness is hit by the dark realities of the world. The film is a telling tale, as the impeccable performance of the six-year-old opens up a whole new world of hope and loss.

These were just a few of the movies that were showcased at the festival which opened with Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkebaaz and closed with Hansal Mehta’s Omerta. The MAMI film festival began and closed with the brilliance of cinema transcending borders and exchanging thoughts, and promising to return next year with more movies. Let’s hope the selection next year is as impeccable as this year was.

Nikhil Katara

Nikhil Katara initiated his journey as a writer with his own production titled The Unveiling, a science fiction drama in the year 2011. To strengthen critical learning he initiated an MA programme in ‘Philosophy’ at the Mumbai university with optionals in Kant, Greek Hellinistic Philosophy, Feminism, Logic and Existentialism. His play Yatagarasu opened at Prithvi Theatre in 2016. He is a consultant facilitator at J’s paradigm (a novel performance arts institute) and writes book reviews for the Free Press Journal.