Indian films Court, Chauranga and Killa were the big winners at the close of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), which wrapped on Tuesday night.
Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court won best film and best director in MFF’s International Competition for first and second-time filmmakers, along with a Special Jury Mention for the ensemble cast. The film, produced by Vivek Gomber, also recently won best film in the Orizzonti section at the Venice film festival.
The jury for this section, headed by UK director Peter Webber, gave the Jury Grand Prize to Mexican film Gueros, directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios (see full list of winners below).
Chauranga, directed by Bikas Ranjan Mishra, won best film in the India Gold competition. Produced by Onir and Sanjay Suri, the film tells the story of a young ‘dalit’ boy who dares to write a love letter to a girl from a higher caste.
Avinash Arun’s Killa, about a young boy’s problems settling into a new school, was also a big winner in this section, taking prizes for second best film and a Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast. The India Gold jury was headed by Serbian filmmaker Goran Paskaljevic.
The festival celebrated a successful 16th edition, despite its difficulties in raising funding – it eventually went ahead with donations from local industrialists, filmmakers, audience members and stars. Screenings at this year’s three venues – PVR Andheri, Cinemax Versova and the historical Chandan Theatre – were as packed as usual, highlighting the local audience’s fervent support of the event.
In contrast to previous years, Bollywood also threw its weight behind the festival, with stars and big-name directors turning up for the opening and closing ceremonies and a series of ‘Film Companion’ talks to introduce their favourite films. Stars at the closing included Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Parineeti Chopra and Anushka Sharma.
MFF director Srinivasan Narayanan expressed his gratitude at the closing ceremony: “For us at MAMI, the Almighty appeared in several forms – Anand Mahindra, Manish Mundra, Rohit Khattar, Neeraj Bajaj, Kiran Rao, Vinod Chopra, Anupama Chopra and the list is long. Thank you all for making possible what appeared to be mission impossible 45 days back.”
Local journalist and critic Anupama Chopra, who was recently appointed MFF creative director, was instrumental in raising Bollywood’s support for the festival, which in turn helped bring in sponsors. “There’s so much more we can do – we only had five weeks of pre-production, apart from the programming which happened before, so given that, we haven’t done too badly,” Chopra told Screen. Anu Rangachar heads programming for the festival.
However, the festival organisers say they’re well aware they can’t rely on stars and crowdfunding to finance the festival in future years. “You have to lock in two or three sponsors who create a long-term relationship with the festival, and then have ideas on how to grow it and work with it – you need a five-year plan, otherwise you can’t really do it. But I’m optimistic about that,” Chopra said.
She added: “Yesterday I saw an old Maharashtrian couple [from the Indian state of Maharashtra] watching a Japanese film, and moments like that give me hope for the future.”
The festival closed with a screening of David Ayer’s Fury.
MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2014 WINNERS:
Best film – Court, dir: Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
Jury Grand Prize – Gueros, dir: Alonso Ruizpalacios (Mexico)
Best director – Chaitanya Tamhane, Court (India)
Special Jury Mention for Ensemble Cast – Court, dir: Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
Best actor – Martin Loizillon, Fever (France)
Best actress – Liron Ben-Shlush, Next To Her (Israel)
Jury Award for Best Work (cinematography) – Anthony Radcliffe, 71 (UK)
Best film – Chauranga, dir: Bikas Ranjan Mishra
Second best film – Killa, dir: Avinash Arun
Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast – Killa, dir: Avinash Arun
Best film – Mumbai 70, dir: Disha Rindani
Second best film – Unfit, dir: Shristi Jain
Special Jury Mention – Selfie, dir: Ramachandra Gaonkar
HT MUMBAI YOUNG CRITICS JURY:
Best film – Ba Digaran, dir: Nasser Zamiri (Iran)
Best Mumbai Young Critic – Akshay Pawar