10 Films You Must Watch at MAMI 2015 and Then Some
A still from <i>Tangerine, </i>directed by Sean Baker, shot entirely on iPhone
A still from Tangerine, directed by Sean Baker, shot entirely on iPhone

10 Films You Must Watch at MAMI 2015 and Then Some

Confused about which movies to put on your must-watch list at the 17th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival? Here are a few films that we’ve pulled out that should figure in your list.

1. The Forbidden Room

A still from <i>The Forbidden Room</i>
A still from The Forbidden Room

Dir: Guy Maddin

The latest from director Guy Maddin has been described as a ‘narcotized fever dream’ thanks to its batshit crazy bizarre imagery. The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year and contains a crew in a submarine, thugs who live in a forest, a medical surgeon, child soldiers who collide into each other to unravel the meaning of life. If that plot sounds abstract check out the insane trailer below:

2. Mountains May Depart

A still from <i>Mountains May Depart</i>
A still from Mountains May Depart

Dir: Jia Zhangke

Zhangke deconstructed the ignominy of modern China in the deliciously violent A Touch of Sin and it looks like he’s doing some more of that, on a much bigger canvas in his new film. This time the filmmaker takes us through three timelines of evolving China – 1999, 2014 and a futuristic 2025.

3. The Lobster

A still from <i>The Lobster</i>
A still from The Lobster

Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

The Greek filmmaker who made us sick to our stomach with Dogtooth and Alps and still made us love those two films is back with another impressionist dark comedy about doomed love. Lanthimos goes mainstream this time with a cast of Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux and John C Reilly. The film won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes film festival.

4. Dheepan

A still from <i>Dheepan</i>
A still from Dheepan

Dir: Jacques Audiard

Director Audiard who blew us away with A Prophet five years ago never quite managed to capture our attention with his subsequent film Rust and Bone. His latest, however seems like a return to form seeing as it won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival earlier this year. The film chronicles three Tamil refugees who escape the Sri Lankan civil war and migrate to France to start afresh.

5. Room

A still from <i>Room</i>
A still from Room

Dir: Lenny Abrahamson

After wowing us last year with the strange masked rocker comedy drama Frank director Abrahamson has allegedly taken things to another level with his new film. Room chronicles the story of a mother (Brie Larson) and her child who must cope with the outside world after being imprisoned in a room for years. With her performance in last year’s Short Term 12 and the acclaim she’s garnering from Room, Larson has fast become an indie darling.

6. Taxi

A still from <i>Taxi</i>
A still from Taxi

Dir: Jafar Panahi

Hands down the most fascinating filmmaker in the world, Panahi makes films using his limited resources in Iran, where he’s kept under house arrest for making films which were supposedly damaging to country’s culture. He’s now made films secretly in his house and smuggled them in a cake to film festivals, he’s shot his latest entire inside a taxi ride through Iran. Taxi won the Golden Bear and the FIPRESCI at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

7. Heavenly Nomadic

A still from <i>Heavenly Nomadic</i>
A still from Heavenly Nomadic

Dir: Mirlan Abdykalykov

Kyrgystan’s official entry to the Oscars, Heavenly Nomadic has been described as a sweeping epic made out of a simple tale of paradise lost. The film chronicles the lives of three generations of nomads who undergo a change when a meteorologist from a more modern world moves in next door.

8. Tangerine

A still from <i>Tangerine</i>
A still from Tangerine

Dir: Sean Baker

Shot entirely on iPhones and universally acclaimed, director Sean Baker’s comedy has been called a true indie revolution and major case for DIY (Do It Yourself) filmmaking.

9. Ixcanul Volcano

A still from <i>Ixcanul Volcano</i>
A still from Ixcanul Volcano

Dir: Jayro Bustamante

How often does one hear about Guatemalan films, that too ones that are critically acclaimed? Ixcanul Volcano, this year’s Oscar entry from Guatemala takes us through a clash between the modern world and a Mayan farming family in a remote jungle. Indigenous South American tribes being exploited by the Western world has been captured in documentaries, but never in a feature film. The French co-production won the Alfred Bauer prize at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

10. He Named Me Malala

A publicity still from <i>He Named Me Malala</i>
A publicity still from He Named Me Malala

Dir: David Guggenheim

A chronicle of the life and near death of the young Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, He Named me Malala received middling reviews from critics. But given the subject matter and the fact that director Guggenheim earlier made the terrific An Invonvenient Truth, this one becomes a must watch.

Indian Films to Look Out For:

Chuathi Koot (The Fourth Direction): Directed by Gurvinder Singh, which was screened at Cannes earlier this year.

Thithi: Director Raam Reddy’s Kannada film which won two awards at Locarno this year.

A still from <i>Thithi</i>
A still from Thithi

Island City: FTII grad Ruchika Oberoi’s debut film won the FEDORA prize at the Venice film festival and stars Tannishta Chatterjee, Vinay Pathak and Amruta Subhash. The film mashes together three stories with the singular stark backdrop of Mumbai.

A still from <i>Island City</i>
A still from Island City

Umrika: Director Prashant Nair’s film won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance, and stars Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) as a village urchin looking for his lost brother last seen leaving for the States.

A still from <i>Umrika</i>
A still from Umrika

Placebo: Director Abhay Kumar’s debut film follows the lives of four students at one of the toughest educational institutes of India, contemplating life, death and the educational system in between.

The poster of <i>Placebo</i>
The poster of Placebo

Other Biggies to Keep An Eye Out For:

99 Homes: The latest film from director Ramin Bahrani tackles the issues of capitalism against the housing market debacle of 2008.

Mistress America: The new post modern alienation fable from the world’s most beloved reel and real life couple – Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig.

Youth: The new film from director Paolo Sorrentino who made the best film of 2013 – The Great Beauty. This one stars Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Paul Dano.

A Bigger Splash: Described as a ‘sunny noir’, Ralph Feinnes, Tilda Swinton Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts star in a film about a harmless debauchery gone horribly wrong.

Junun: Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s camera follows his escapade with Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood through the winding lanes of Rajasthan to create a new kind of music.

The Assassin: Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s critically acclaimed, beautiful looking Wuxia martial arts film which has been on the festival circuit, finally comes to the big screen in India.

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