MAMI Film Festival, 7 days, 25 films

First the unexpected experience. On October 25th at 8 a.m. I logged into Bookmyshow and registered for Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. And then it happened. Bookmyshow crashed. Twitter was abuzz, some angry, some losing patience. I decided to go to the theater and book for the rest of shows for day 1. It worked!

Now the films which did not impress me much – The Day I Lost My Shadow and Island of the Hungry Ghosts. The former is a film based during 2012 war in Syria. The film grabs your attention initially; showing a son and mother trying to make best of the situation. But as the protagonists go out in search of a gas cylinder the film becomes cryptic; dialogues felt vague and I lost interest. The latter is a film about how asylum seekers are placed on an isolated island by the Australian government. The protagonist, a trauma counselor, listens to various stories. We see her family life and the great migration of red crabs. But the way the film unfolds is unconvincing. But this documentary has got great reviews and awards!

Recently, I read, Naseeruddin Shah say

People should know what the India of 2018 was like. The only serious function films can serve is to act as a record of their times.

So, some of the films which performed this duty so well were -

  • Soni
  • – The film opens with a woman walking alone in a dimly lit lane and is harassed by a guy on bicycle. Soon, we come to know she is Soni, a police office. Her boss is also a woman officer. The film depicts their struggle.

  • The Hieresses
  • – A film from Paraguay where hardly 2-3 films are made every year. Its about 2 woman who have fallen on hard times.

  • Leave without Trace
  • – Why does a father decide to live in a forest with her daughter? What happens when they are forced to live among people? Should a parent decide whats best for their children?

  • Woman at War
  • – In the name of development, governments in this world justify environmental degradation. What can an ordinary citizen do ?

  • And breathe normally
  • – We think of Iceland as this beautiful country. But, there are people struggling to make a living.

The screening of One cut of the dead brought the house down.

Looking back at MAMI 2014

The story of humans on this planet is the story of struggle; to survive and live with dignity; to feel part of something. Every human and the society they are part of have their own struggles. There is almost familiar themes running through these struggles – fighting the unjust government (Pride), people displaced from their homes and trying to start a new life in an unfamiliar country (Macondo), women fighting social prejudices and unjust system of justice (Difret, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem), economic struggle (Two Days, One Night), love. The themes are familiar but still the story needs to be told. And, cinema is one such medium to explore these themes.

I have always wanted to attend an International Film Festival. My first attempt was MAMI 2013 but could not manage to fulfill my wish. But, MAMI 2014 happened and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience. Everyday I left home early to watch 4-5 movies per day, and returned home late in the night. The first show usually started at 10am. And, reached home by 11pm. My son was perplexed. I tried to share some stories from films to satiate his curiosity.

How did I choose which films to watch? Don’t remember now. I had not read too many previews; just a couple before day 1. So, just went with my gut feeling in choosing films to watch, for each day.

One great feature of the festival is that the audience gets to talk to the producers, directors or the actors of the film.

One of the defining experience of the festival was watching ‘Corn Island’. It is a beautifully shot film but has minimal dialogues. There is no dialogue almost for 20 minutes but I was completely hooked and eager to follow the journey of the protagonist. ‘Court’ was another movie which was unconventional but engaging, sometimes humorous. Here is a review

A Dalit activist-poet is held ‘responsible’ for the ‘suicide’ of a sewage cleaner. ‘Court’ leads us through his arrest and ‘judicial remand’ and hearings, resulting in a film that is throbbing, urgent, vital, belying the sparse, near-documentarian manner of the telling.

Some other movies which I liked -

  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
  • – A vampire movie shot in black and white

  • Refugiado
  • – A wife (with her son) running away from the abusive husband

  • Vessel ( Documentary )
  • – A woman’s fight to help women from around the world in getting abortions.

  • Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
  • – An enthralling court drama; mesmerizing performance by the lead actress.

  • Difret
  • – An Ethopian film which tells a story of girl escaping from the inhuman practice of ‘abduction into marriage’.

  • Lessons in Dissent (Documentary )
  • The Tree (Drevo)
  • Macondo
  • – The film explores the life of refugees in Austria.

  • The Fort (Killa)
  • – Story of childhood; beautiful background; some funny moments.

  • Labour Of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe)
  • – A silent film

  • The Ambassador To Bern
  • – A political thriller

  • The Little House
  • Pride
  • – A fun film based on true events.

  • Two Days, One Night
  • – Will you accept taking a cut in salary/bonus if it would help someone to keep their job?

Some of the duds I watched –

  • Dombivli Return
  • Honeycomb Lodge
  • Buddha In a Traffic Jam

The festival was well organised; though there were some hiccups. Now, looking forward to October 29th, 2015.