From Primetime Emmy award-winning American filmmaker Cary Fukunaga’s maiden visit to India to the world premiere of some gripping films to director Rohit Shetty, known to churn out Bollywood masala films, attending a film festival, there were many firsts at the recently concluded Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star here.

The eight-day long Mumbai film fest, which concluded on Thursday, screened 175 films, including features, documentaries and short films from 54 countries. Movie buffs were left wanting more, but organisers were happy with the turnout of over 10,000 people who registered.

“I met a lot of people who said they were from Surat, Pune and Ahmedabad. I even met a girl from Delhi who was a banker. She was interested in filmmaking so, she came here for a week just to watch films,” Jio MAMI with Star Festival Director Anupama Chopra told IANS.

The experience, described by aspiring filmmakers, actors and movie lovers in general, was “worth it”.

Actress Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut “A Death in The Gunj”, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, opened the festival to a packed house.

Chopra said that even “The Salesman”, an Iranian-French drama film by Asghar Farhadi, “was very big”. The film which was screened to a packed house won the Audience Choice Award.

The fest attendees were also excited to catch the premiere of films, including the political thriller “An Insignificant Man”, which chronicles the journey of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from a social activist to a controversial politician.

There were many people who queued up for actress Priyanka Chopra‘s Marathi film production “Ventilator”. In fact, some of them had to leave disappointed as the hall was full.

American producer Christine Vachon, one of the jury members of International Competition category at the fest, said: “Since I was a part of the jury, I did not get a chance to watch Indian films. I must say it is a great platform for debutant directors, especially independent filmmakers to showcase their work.”

“I am interested in working with young filmmakers and producers. It was my first time in MAMI. I want to come back as a jury of Indian films, so that I can watch the work of independent Indian filmmakers. I would also like to do workshops with my peers here,” she added.

“Baahubali” fans also got to catch the first look of the much-awaited S.S. Rajamouli’s “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”. Some even entered the world of “Baahubali” by trying on the Virtual Reality gear.

There was even a television vertical this time with Fukunaga of “True Detective” fame and Israeli director Gideon Raff, best known for Israeli TV drama “Hatufim” and its acclaimed US adaptation “Homeland”, participating in a panel discussion on TV trends and its evolution. Bollywood filmmaker Nikkhil Advani’s TV show “P.O.W. Bandi Yuddh Ke!” had its world premiere too.

Advani wasn’t the only Bollywood face. The launch of book titled “Music, Masti, Modernity – The Cinema of Nasir Husain” was unveiled in the presence of the legendary filmmaker’s relatives superstar Aamir Khan and filmmaker Mansoor Khan.

That’s not all. A session with directors saw the “Golmaal Returns” director Shetty attending a film festival for the first time. He along with directors Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Shoojit Sircar and Gauri Shinde disclosed how they are on sets.

“We wanted people from our film industry to be a part of it. It is a Mumbai film festival, so we had to have everybody engaged, including with those from the local industry. Bollywood is one of the biggest brands in India so, why wouldn’t you include them,” asked Chopra, who said mostly those films that will never get a theatrical release, were screened at the gala.

The event also encouraged foreign talent to look for collaborations with Indians.

“This (Mumbai) is India’s huge filmmaking centre and MAMI is the biggest festival of the country. I want to do some crossover projects with India,” Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna, who was here as a jury member of the fest’s India Gold category, told IANS.

(The writer was in Mumbai at the invitation of Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star. Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at [email protected])

By Natalia Ningthoujam

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