The Best Flicks from MAMI 2017 That You Won’t Stop Thinking About
With a heavy heart I had to walk away from the multiplex upon completion of the final film of the previous night, fighting the denial that this year’s Mumbai Film Festival is over, and that I now need to wait 365 more days to experience joy again. The withdrawal symptoms are kicking in already, ranging from shaking hands to uncontrollable crying to binge eating ice cream whilst watching Netflix to compensate.
In the seven years that I’ve been attending the festival, I’ve never seen such impressive handling, smooth programming and seamless ticket booking – props to the MAMI team and their partners for bringing in their A game. The only disappointment was that Call Me By Your Name only had one screening, which was a bummer, considering the insane buzz around the film. Even if it does release in India, the CBFC would probably ask the distributors to impale the content. So our only hope is to wait for it to appear on a streaming platform.
Below is a wrap of the most noteworthy films from Day 6 & 7 of the 2017 Mumbai Film Festival.
Also Read: MAMI 2017: The Films That Stole the Show
A Fantastic Woman
The Chilean drama is a melancholic bit of cinema, where a transgender woman (played beautifully by Daniela Vega) must deal with the aftermath of her much older lover suddenly passing away. Director Sebastián Lelio accurately captures the discomfort that society would have with a respected ‘family man’ being romantically associated with a transgender person. On the downside, the film invests too much on the blacks rather than the greys of society’s conditioning to abhorring anything other than heterosexual marriages – a little nuance would have turned the film into a classic.
On Body And Soul & Sicilian Ghost Story
Two films that truly captured the zeitgeist of fantasy magic realist love in harsh modern times were the Hungarian On Body And Soul & Sicilian Ghost Story. Both films have interesting premises – the former chronicles a man and a woman who connect over a shared dream they mysteriously seem to have, and the latter follows a girl named Luna, who is searching for the love of her life, who has disappeared.
Both films employ a fairy tale like narrative to explain how one needs to imagine an emotional bond with another human as a metaphysical one to fill the vaccum created in our lives. The latter is a more memorable watch, buoyed by the fact that it’s based on a terrifying real life story of a boy, who had been drowned in acid.
The best film of the festival, however, was Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Russian film Loveless, which was not only a brutal exploration of a detonating marriage but also solid social commentary on the state of things in Russia. Zvyagintsev employs tremendously acted and choreographed long, single takes, making the cold and dank atmosphere of the film almost seep through the screens. Maryaja Spivak, who plays the woman on the verge of a nasty divorce is so strong she feels like an unstoppable force – she’s going to be a huge international star soon.
It felt good to end the festival with Sexy Durga as the final film, in which director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan skewers religion and all the bullshit surrounding it. It’s an indulgent bit of filmmaking with an unhurried pace and showy long takes, but it goes against the grain of the rules of cinema, and much like Q’s Gandu, I assume this will become a cult favourite with film geeks soon. Director Sasidharan bagged the India Gold Special Jury Mention award at the MAMI closing ceremony.
Other films to watch out for:
Village Rockstars by Rima Das, which scored a hat trick as it won the Young Critics Choice, Oxfam Award for Gender Equality, and the Golden Gateaway awards at the closing ceremony.
Machines by Rahul Jain won the Silver Gateaway award in the India Gold category.
In The Shadows by Dipesh Jain, which scored the India Gold Jury Grand Prize.
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