The eight-day long Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star will screen 175 films, including features, documentaries and short films from 54 countries, from Thursday here.

Right from its opening ceremony at the revamped Royal Opera House here, the fest will be bigger than its previous editions, promises MAMI Festival Director Anupama Chopra.

Actress Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut “A Death in The Gunj”, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, has been chosen as the opening film of the festival.

“It will be a bigger festival in total in terms of events and the verticals,” Chopra told IANS.

While American drama film “Manchester by the Sea”, directed by Kenneth Lonergan, will close the fest, Turkey has been selected as the country in focus.

“A big delegation is coming from Turkey and we are very excited,” she said.

The “big movie mela”, as Chopra likes to describe the fest, will showcase films from France, Brazil, the US, Australia, Germany, Russia and more, but the attendees won’t get to watch a Pakistani classic.

Amid the growing tensions between India and Pakistan, the festival organisers decided not to showcase “Jago Hua Savera”, which was to be screened as part of the Restored Classics Section of the event.

The decision comes after Prithvi Maske, President of Sangharsh Foundation, an NGO in Mumbai, filed a complaint at Amboli police station against Jio MAMI for screening of the 1959 A.J. Kardar directorial.

When IANS asked her before the complaint was filed if she was expecting any kind of protest against the Pakistani film, Chopra said: “I hope not. We are just showing a movie. Our function as a festival is to bring great films to people.”

But there are other films that moviegoers can enjoy at the fest, which will conclude on October 27.

The Jio MAMI Movie Mela with Star will showcase the first look of the much awaited S.S. Rajamouli’s “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” on October 22 here.

Short film “Azaad”, presented by filmmaker Mira Nair, is set to premiere at the fest.

Political thriller “An Insignificant Man”, which chronicles the journey of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from a social activist to a controversial politician, will also premiere in India at the festival.

The list of premieres doesn’t end here. Filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane’s “Trapped” will have its premiere and so will actress Priyanka Chopra‘s Marathi film production “Ventilator”.

This time the fest is going big with Marathi cinema. It will celebrate Marathi cinema with the launch of its new segment Marathi Talkies.

“Marathi cinema has always been a big part of the festival, but we have launched the segment to have one day to showcase it and highlight it,” said Chopra.

The Half Ticket, a section for children, is different this year.

“Half Ticket is going to be something where parents can bring their children otherwise we used to work with schools,” she explained.

Film enthusiasts can also look forward to sessions and other activities.

American filmmaker Cary Fukunaga will conduct a masterclass during the festival. The masterclass will give insights into his craft, challenges and choices of a filmmaker.

“Music, Masti, Modernity – The Cinema of Nasir Husain”, a book based on the legendary filmmaker Nasir Husain, will be launched. To celebrate the launch of the book, written by Akshay Manwani, Nasir Husain’s cult musical hit film “Teesri Manzil” will be screened at the event.

The book launch will be followed by a panel discussion about Nasir Husain’s cinema and how it has shaped generations of directors. The panel will include superstar and Nasir Husain’s nephew Aamir Khan, director and Nasir Husain’s son Mansoor Khan, Manwani and producer Nuzhat Khan.

“I hope people of Mumbai and who travel to Mumbai go back with great movies and memories with slightly new ways of thinking and looking at cinema. That’s what film fests should do,” she concluded.

(The writer is 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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