Posted by Larry Gleeson
By Mihir Fadnavis
If you are by any chance a film buff you’d be aware of your favourite time of the year – the 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. You’d also no doubt be really confused about what films to watch considering the sheer volume of amazing films put together by the lovely people of Jio MAMI.
Fret not. Listed below is a handy guide to make note of 15 films you should absolutely, under no circumstance, miss at the festival.
Under The Shadow
Director: Babak Anvari
By far the most exciting film at the fest, Babak Anvari’s film contains a mysterious spooky entitypestering a mother and her daughter during the fag end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988. The film has been gathering some serious buzz ever since it premiered in Sundance back in January. It’s also UIK’s official entry to the Oscars — which bodes well for fans of intelligent horror cinema.
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Set in a Warsaw nightclub and full of weird lurid visuals, The Lure chronicles two mermaid sisters who arrive on land to explore the ‘human’ side of the world, and clash when they fall for the same human. Things get stranger when we discover the mermaids also have vampiric tendencies. The film created quite a buzz in Sundance where it won a Jury Prize.
Director: Oliver Assayas
It seems like this year’s MAMI has turned into the Fantastic Fest (what could possibly be better than that) because this is the third acclaimed horror film to watch out for. Oliver Assayas who totally bowled us over two years ago with The Clouds of Sils Maria is back with a spooky story with an undercurrent of social commentary.
Assayas’ regular Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, an assistant to a fashion mogul in Paris who contacts a spirit of some sort. Festival darling Assayas picked up the Best Director award at Cannes earlier this year.
Director: Johnny Ma
We know China can be a weird place, and debut director Johnny Ma explores yet another bizarre quirk of the country: if you help someone in a car accident and take him to the hospital, you are liable to pay their rehabilitation fees for the rest of their life. The protagonist of the film, a cab driver finds himself in such a scenario in a film that bagged Ma the award for the best debut film at the Toronto International Film Fest earlier this year.
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Graduation puts 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days director Mungiu back to his roots – in the underbelly of Cluj. The film follows a surgeon who for some reason is a target by unknown pranksters, and whose daughter is mugged and assaulted on her way to her exams.
With handheld cameras, bleak blue tones, and the exploration of grassroots corruption, Mungiu’s latest has been heralded as a return to form for a filmmaker whose previous film Beyond the Hills was criticized for being too self indulgent. Mungiu bagged the Directors trophy at Cannes for this film.
Things To Come
Director: Mia Hansen Love
Fast emerging as one of the most exciting filmmakers of this generation, Hansen Love’s new film follows a 50 year old woman who needs to come to terms with dealing with life after a divorce. Hansen Love bagged the Silver Bear for Best Director in Berlin, but her amazing work in her previous film Eden is enough reason to be excited for this one.
My Life As A Courgette
Director: Claude Barras
Celine Sciamma who earlier wrote the magnificent Girlhood teams up with director Barras for a stop motion animation about a 9-year-old boy who is put in an orphanage after his alcoholic mother dies — for which he may or may not be responsible.
Director: Paul Verhoeven
The filmmaker behind some of the most nihilistic films of all time like Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers returns after years with Elle, another nasty takedown of the society we live in. This time the story follows a rich video game honcho named Michelle (Isabelle Huppert) who is attacked by a masked man at her Parisian home.
Like all Verhoeven’s previous films, Elle is supposed to present moral dilemmas with a satirical bite and a layer of icily dark commentary on sex, violence and, in this case, video games. It’s France official entry to the Oscars.
Director: Elite Zexer
Winning the Grand Jury prize at Sundance, Elite Zexer’s film which is set in Southern Israel follows a Bedouin woman dealing with everyday sexism and not so casual misogyny of the region after her husband is about to be married to a second, much younger woman. That should be an interesting watch because it’s a topic that folks in India can unfortunately relate to all too well.
Hounds Of Love
Director: Ben Young
In case you’re looking for a serial killer movie, debut filmmaker Ben Young presents a highly intriguing one with Hounds of Love, which introduces us to a serial killer couple whose latest kidnapping victim realizes that the only way to escape is by getting the two psychos to turn against each other.
One other little aspect to convince you to see this film is that the many audience members at the Venice Film Festival walked out because they couldn’t stomach what was happening on the screen.
The War Show
Director: Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon
Country: Syria – Denmark
The War Show is supposed to be a blistering account of the Arab Spring seen through the eyes of radio host Obaidah Zytoon who began filming the state of things during and after the protests.
The Lovers And The Despot
Director: Rob Cannan and Ross Adam
It’s pretty obvious how demented and scary North Korea is, and it seems there’s no dearth of bizarre stories to come out of the country. This documentary brings us the real life story of a filmmaker couple who was kidnapped by Kim Jong II and were forced to make films in the country because the great dictator was a film buff.
Director: Reza Dormishian
Yet another fascinating film from Iran, we’re taken through three intertwining stories: one which follows a gang of thugs that attacks and kidnaps young children from families that gained their wealth through financial wrongdoings, another which chronicles a journalist who is not allowed to voice his opinion and the third which follows a prostitute who turns into a thug.
Director: Mohamed Diab
After garnering acclaim for his film Cairo 678, Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Diab is back with another interesting story that puts various characters in a single location – a police riot car during the raging bloody streets of Cairo when the Muslim brotherhood president Morsi was overthrown and the country went nuts.
After The Storm
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Like Father Like Son filmmaker Koreeda returns with another film with similar themes of isolation in the Japanese society. The film follows a writer struggling to live up to the success of his first novel and dealing with vices such as gambling and ego. While researching his next book he begins to spy on his ex wife who is now seeing another man. Reality hits him when he discovers that their son, in the custody of his mother is perfectly happy without him. The film has naturally received glowing reviews everywhere it’s screened.
Director: Asghar Farhadi
It’s Farhadi’s new film — that’s all you need to know.
Other Notable Mentions:
Swiss Army Man: A delightful tale of a suicidal man whose life is saved by a farting corpse.
The Wailing: Yet another engrossing watch from Korean maestro Hong Jin Na about a Korean village going through a turmoil after a Japanese man encroaches their territory.
Neruda: The new film from Pablo Larrain which has been garnering some terrific buzz.
Madly: A short anthology featuring directorial works fromAnurag Kashyap,Gael Garcia Bernal, Mia Wasikowska, Natasha Khan, Sion Sono and Sebastian Silva.
Death in Sarajevo: Danis Tanovic’s new film.
I, Daniel Blake: Festival darling Ken Loach’s latest which is sure to have insanely long lines – make sure you get to the screening hall early.