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Mumbai Film Festival

Mumbai Film Festival

The Mumbai Film Festival (October 18 – 25, 2012) is the largest film festival in India with over 100,000 attending.  The Festival is 14 years old itself but Reliance Big Entertainment, the company that backs both Dreamworks and IM Global, one of U.S.’s foremost international sales agents, has backed this festival for the last 4 years and the result is a scaled up festival.  It is part of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image, a not for profit trust founded in 1997 by Indian Film Industry personalities led by renowned filmmaker late Hrishikesh Mukherji.  Its 220 films are all free.  

Parenthetically, though not part of the festival itself, Mumbai is “‘in the news” with the TIFF’s City-to-City program focusing on Mumbai. This was organized by Cameron Bailey directly with filmmakers in Mumbai and is not a Mumbai Film Festival program…Also of interest is that Mumbai also hosts India’s largest international Queer Film Festival For Everyone which was held in May of this year with the Alliance Francaise de Bombay.

The Mumbai Film Festival also works with Unifance and French Rendez-Vous.

Sections include Discovery, Retrospective – this year to feature 50 years of the Cannes Critics Week, International Competition which awards $200,000 to a first feature.  

Three new developments are taking place this year.

1.  To celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema, the festival is launching a new competition for Indian films (called ‘INDIA GOLD’) with cumulative cash rewards of around $30,000 US. The winners will be selected by an international jury to be announced.

2. The festival is moving to historic South Bombay. The festival, previously held mostly in the Juhu and Andheri districts of Mumbai – where Bollywood is located –  will now take place in the south of the city, the historic center of old colonial Bombay with  amazing Victorian landmarks – train station, court house, with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and Inox Theatre as the main venues. The retrospective of restored films will be screened in a third theater – a historic art deco theater named the Liberty Cinema – so named because it was built in 1949, the year of India’s independence from Britain. For more information on the Liberty see

3. The Spotlight on Film Restoration and Preservation. For the first time, a section of the festival (programmed by Ian Birnie, U.S. Representative for the Mumbai Film Festival) will be devoted to screenings of restored classic films with a particular focus on Twentieth Century Fox. Screenings will be introduced by various archivists all of whom are leading experts in the field. A panel will bring together Western archivists and their Indian counterparts and the discussion will focus on the economic challenges and new technologies that are changing the future of film preservation.  

The American participants are:  

            Schawn Belston, Senior VP, Library and Technical Services, Twentieth Century Fox

            Margaret Bodde, Executive Director, The Film Foundation

            Mike Pogorzelski, Director, The Academy Film Archive

            Douglas Laible,  Managing Director, World Cinema Foundation

TheTwentieth Century Fox Archive will present 8 films spanning 40 years in the ‘Fox Classics’ series. Note: all were restored in-house at Fox, and by Fox in association with the Academy Film Archive (AFA) and with The Film Foundation (FF)

Sunrise (1928/b&w/94 min.) dir: F.W. Murnau; w /George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston.(Fox/AFA)

How Green Was My Valley(1941/b&w/118 min.) dir: John Ford; w/ Walter Pigeon, Maureen O’Hara. (Fox/AFA)     

Laura (1944/b&w/88 min.) dir: Otto Preminger; w/ Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb. (Fox in-house)

Leave Her to Heaven(1945/color/110 min.) dir: John Stahl; w/ Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain. (Fox/AFA/FF)  

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953/color/91 min.) dir: Howard Hawks; w/ Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell.(Fox in-house)

Wild River(1960/color/110 min./CinemaScope) dir: Elia Kazan; w/ Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick, Jo Van Fleet. (Fox/AFA/FF)

The Leopard (1963/color/187 min.) dir: Luchino Visconti; w/ Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale.(Fox/FF/Cineteca di Bologna)  

Two for the Road(1967/color/110 min./Panavision) dir: Stanley Donen; w/ Audey Hepburn, Albert Finney. (Fox/AFA)

In addition to the Fox titles, 7 additional restored films will be screened.

The Academy Film Archive will present two recent restorations from their ongoing project to restore all the films by the great Indian director Satyajit Ray:

Charulata(1964/b&w/117 min.) w/ Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee, Shailen Mukherjee.

The Chess Players (1977/color/129 min.) w/ Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi

The Film Foundation will present two recent restorations:

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1945/color/163 min.) dir: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger; w/ Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook.  

Once Upon a Time in America  (1984/color/ ??? min.) dir: Sergio Leone; w/ Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern.

The World Cinema Foundation will present its new restoration of a classic Indian film:

Kalpana (1948/b&w/155 min.)

The Cineteca Bologna will present two restored Italian silent classics as part of an Italian Cinema retrospective. 

Sections of the Festival

Dimensions Mumbai, a short film competition of films dealing with any aspect of life in Mumbai and targeted to the Mumbai Youth below 25 years was introduced in 2008.

An International Competition for the First Feature Film of directors with the award money of US $ 150,000 (US $ 100,000 for the Best Film and US $ 50,000 for the Jury Grand Prize) was introduced in 2009.  The UK Film ‘White Lightn’in won the 2011 Best Film Award and Austria-Italy co-production La Pivillina won the Jury Grand Prize.

The Audience Choice Award carrying U.S. $ 20,000 for any film participating in the Festival, (excepting the Retrospectives and Tribute sections) was introduced in 09 as well.  The Indian Film ‘Road to Sangam’ won this award.

International Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on the Greek filmmaker THEO ANGELOPOULOS.

A new initiative MUMBAI YOUNG CRITICS was introduced in ’09 as well.  24 college students selected from more than 80 aspirants recommended by the colleges in Mumbai went through a workshop conducted by the German writer and film critic Daniel Kothenschulte for three days before the Festival. This group watched the films in the festival, wrote about them in Festival publications and newspapers and also selected a film for the MUMBAI YOUNG CRITICS AWARD.

Last year the festival  showcased over 200 films from 60 countries across various sections at its three venues- Cinemax Versova, Cinemax Sion and Metro Big Cinemas.

The festival hosts a special section ‘4me Rendez-Vous’, in collaboration with Unifrance, Embassy of France in India and Consulate General of France in Mumbai. The section screens the best of New French Cinema, which last year included ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’, ‘The Conquest’ and ‘Declaration of War’ amongst others. 

Last year’s highlight was the special presentation by Lee Yong Kwan, Director, Busan International Film Festival, who presented a selection of the latest Asian Films from Busan.

Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on the legendary actor Morgan Freeman.  Olivia Harrison widow of George Harrison presented the documentary film “George Harrison: Living in the material World”.

The Festival strengthened and consolidated its academic activities with an Indo-German Script Development Workshop scheduled from 11th to the 13th of October just ahead of the festival opening. Speakers at the workshop included the renowned directors Dani Levy, Thorsten Schulz, Screenwriters Anjum Rajabali and Sooni Taraporevala amongst others.

This year’s  Festival continues to facilitate cinema business with the Mumbai Film Mart, created ‘by’ the industry, ‘for’ the industry, ‘in’ the industry hub – Mumbai, the Film Capital of India. The Mumbai Film Mart saw participation from the biggest Entertainment Industry players, both from India and abroad. In the three days, over 2,000 meeting requests were received, 400 meetings were carried out face to face, while an equal number took place among the senior decision makers from leading film production houses, buyers, sellers, festival programmers and independent filmmakers as they milled around and networked with each other.

Among the many firsts, the Mart attracted all the forthcoming big ticket films such as ‘Ra One’, ‘Don 2’, ‘Rockstar’, ‘Ricky Behl v/s Ladies’, ‘The Dirty Picture’, ‘DesiBoyz’ , tabled for acquisition and distribution in the non-traditional markets for Indian Cinema in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Germany, France and Latin America. The focus on these countries attracted leading buyers that included Huayi Brothers Media Corp. (China), NikkatsuCorp.(Japan), Happinet Corp.(Japan), Showbox (Korea), Apex Entertainment (Korea), CJ Entertainment (Korea), Top Films (Ukraine), Novo films (France), Rapid Eye (Germany), IM Global (USA), amongst many others.

The International Jury will be responsible choosing the winners out of 14 films, all first features of debut filmmakers around the world, awarding them with a huge cash prize. This way we would like to recognize and encourage the first time filmmakers, going in line with the festival theme of discovery.

Apart from the main international section, there are many other sections including the world cinema, Indian Frame, New Faces in Indian Cinema, Documentaries etc. Please do check out their website for more information. Last year, it screened about 220 films from 60 countries.

Composition of MAMI:

Shyam Benegal, Eminent Filmmaker – CHAIRMAN

Amit Khanna, producer, lyricist and Chairman of Reliance Entertainment 

Amol Palekar, acclaimed actor-director 

Ashutosh Gowarikar (Oscar Nominee – Best Foreign Language Film for Lagaan) 

Farhan Akhtar, one of the youngest directors and actor

Jaya Bachchan, acclaimed and award winning actress 

Karan Johar, director-producer of some of the most successful films at the box office 

Ramesh Sippy, well known filmmaker of SHOLAY fame

Shabana Azmi, renowned actress who has won acclaim and awards Internationally 

Yash Chopra, producer-director, doyen of the Hindi film industry.

Narayan is the Director and head programmer, Anu is second in command.  

And there is a selection committee that screens all the competition films – industry people and critics in Mumbai.


About Reliance Big Entertainment

Reliance BIG Entertainment Ltd. (RBEL) is the flagship media and entertainment arm of India’s Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, with a significant presence in film entertainment (film production, distribution, and exhibition), broadcasting and new media ventures.

RBEL’s motion picture brand, Reliance BIG Pictures ( ) has built a impressive film production slate in Hindi, English & other Indian languages, which it markets and distributes worldwide. Following Reliance BIG Picturess association with IM Global, the company now benefits from an international sales team with an excellent reputation and global presence dedicated to selling its Bollywood and regional language slate. Going into production in November is the $45 million ðDreddð, which Reliance Big Entertainment is co-financing with IM Global.

In Hollywood, Reliance BIG Pictures has partnered with Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider on the formation of DreamWorks Studios and hasdevelopment deals with Nicolas Cage’s Saturn Films, Jim Carrey’s JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney’s Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus’1492 Pictures, Tom Hanksð Playtone Productions, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, Jay Roach’s Everyman Pictures, Brett Ratnerðs Rat Entertainment,Julia Robertsð Red Om Films and Brian Grazer and Ron Howardðs Imagine Entertainment.

Also worth noting: the competition section of the festival is for first features and carries a Grand prize of US$100,000 and a Jury prize of US$50,000.00, with a percentage of the money of allocated to the sales agent who submitted the film. With 14 features, the odds are better than most lotteries…  This was last year’s lineup   The Salesman, one of the films their U.S. Representative Programmer, Ian Bernie (former longtime LACMA programmer) selected, won the Jury Award and Best Actor. 

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