Film Festivals Offering A Mixed Bag Of Cinema In The City

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The cultural capital of the country, Mumbai, lives up to its name by offering a host of enriching things to do. Holding prime position on that list are ‘films’; after all, Mumbai houses one of the most glamorous and flourishing film industries – Bollywood. But Mumbai’s connection with films is not restricted to Bollywood alone. The city today has become a promising point on the map of indie cinema and provides a platform to aspiring and established filmmakers from the country and across the globe. Films of all genres and filmmaking in various formats get a showcase in Mumbai through varied film festivals organized here. Typically annual events, these film festivals present films across interesting categories and with each passing year introduce novel elements for the audience.

Most importantly, these festivals do not have watertight compartments and are open to give anyone and everyone a chance. Over the years, dedicated film festivals which focus on particular categories of films or filmmakers are providing newer opportunities for specialized cinema.

MumbaiMag introduces you to some of these prominent film festivals which have gathered fame not just in Mumbai but internationally too.

Inaugural ceremony of Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2013. Image by Sulekha.com.

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival:  A journey that celebrates queer identities and encompasses the reality and lives that make up the Indian queer experience is how the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is best defined. The first edition of India’s landmark LGBT film fest was held in 2010 in Mumbai which has a thriving queer community. The festival held in May every year is organized by Solaris Pictures alongwith Bombay Dost (India’s first registered LGBT magazine) and the Humsafar Trust. Alliance Française de Bombay is one of the fixed venues of the festival.

Using cinema as an aid, the festival encourages and provides a significant platform for queer cinema and also facilitates an understanding of what the queer community stands for today and their vital position in society. Short films and documentaries from India and other countries across the world are screened here and extend not just to the queer community but mainstream society as well. The festival has received tremendous support from all quarters be it the Hindi film fraternity or the general public from across the globe.

In 2012 Kashish adopted the crowd funding way to raise funds via social media for festival expenses and people from all over the world have been coming forward to help. Kashish is open to all and does not charge any registration fee from delegates to ensure that anyone and everyone can access it. Kashish 2013 concluded on 26th May in Mumbai. Festival Director Sridhar Rangayan had once said in an interview, “The growth and spread of Kashish has been phenomenal. We are in our fourth year and there are a lot more expectations. It will be a challenge to ensure that we balance awareness and entertainment to provide a diverse range of programs for our audiences. Kashish is no more just a film festival, but an annual cultural experience, and we hope to live up to it.”

Mumbai International Film Festival 2012. Image by festivalsherpa.com

Mumbai International Film Festival: Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) for documentary, short and animated films has been in action since 1990 when it was known as the Bombay International Film Festival. The festival is organized by the Films Division of the I&B Ministry every two years in the month of February. The NCPA has hosted most editions of MIFF.

With each passing year, MIFF has flourished and is today amongst the most prestigious international festivals in the entire world. The festival enables filmmakers from various countries to showcase their works and also interact with likeminded individuals. They hold various sections including Homage, Retrospective & Special Packages with open forums and seminars. MIFF has recently also started the ‘Best Student Film’ award. An entry fee is charged from delegates and the international and Indian competition sections (which were earlier separate) are now merged into one Competitive Section. “While there have been several festivals in the city that screen international films, this annual event showcases short films exclusively. Documentaries are the poor cousins of glamorous mainstream cinema. We don’t get as much support as they do, but we have seen the popularity of documentary films surge over the years,” festival director Kuldeep Sinha was quoted saying.

MIFF is known to gives away the maximum cash awards besides mementos including the Golden and Silver conches. With over 34 countries participating in each edition, the festival has also witnessed the participation of internationally renowned filmmakers (as jury or participants).

Sridevi at the opening night of the Mumbai Film Festival 2012. Image by mumbaifilmfest.org

Mumbai Film Festival:  This annual international film festival is organized by The Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) since 1997. The festival that is presented by Reliance Entertainment is held at multiple venues across the city in the month of October. Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) features films in nine sections that include International Competition for the First Feature Films of Directors, World Cinema, Dimensions Mumbai Competition, India Gold Competition, Celebrate Age Competition, Retrospectives, Above the Cut, New Faces in Indian Cinema and The Real Reel.

In 2012, MFF instituted the ‘India Gold’ competition section which is for Indian feature films and aims to showcase the best of Indian cinema. The highlight of the festival is that it encourages debut film ventures. All the films presented here are Indian Premieres and have previously been unreleased in the country. Additionally, in 2011, The Mumbai Film Festival and the Pusan International Film Festival signed a MoU which will help strengthen exchanges between the two festivals. MFF too has turned towards crowd funding with initiatives like the international competition section, poster designing, Dimensions Mumbai and Harmony Celebrate Age which were initiated in 2012. Ratnakar Matkari, playwright and director speaks highly of the festival, “Mumbai Film Festival is very important especially for the young directors because it is a window to showcase their talent because there is a generation, who are dependent on these festivals only.”

The team of film ‘Anumati’ at the Third Eye Asian Film Festival. Image by Third Eye Film Festival Facebook page.

Third Eye Asian Film Festival:  The Third Eye Asian Film Festival is the only festival focusing on cinema from the continent. The festival was started as an attempt to build a greater understanding between Asian people about peace, harmony and development. It is being organized by the Asian Film Foundation for over a decade now and is mostly held in the month of December. The festival has two sections that are the First/Second Feature Film by a Director and Short Film Fiction Competition. Contemporary Asian films are shown in the ‘Spectrum Asia’ section. Ravindra Natya Mandir is one of the main venues of the festival. Festival director Sudhir Nandgaonkar was quoted in an interview stating, “We are a part of Asia but we don’t know enough about Asian cinema. Although delegates tend to go for European films over Asian films, the fact is that especially since the 1990s all kinds of Asian films have been winning awards at festivals.” The 11th edition of the fest was held simultaneously in Mumbai and Thane last year.

Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival. Image by MWIFF Facebook page

Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival: A one of its kind festival, Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival (MWIFF) is dedicated to the talent of women behind the camera. It celebrates cinema from a woman’s perspective and provides a platform for films spearheaded by women. The festival will be organized for the first time in October 2013 by Oculus Creations. Oculus Creations were responsible for the Mumbai International Short Film Festival (MISFF) which was held in 2012 and showcased the work of established & aspiring filmmakers in the form of short films, animations & documentaries. This year MISFF gives way to MWIFF.

To be held in Ravindra Natya Mandir, the festival will feature works of women in the competitive and non-competitive categories. The Competitive category includes short films, documentaries, public service announcement films and feature films while the Non-Competition Section includes World Cinebusters, World Panorama and World Premiere. One female applicant (director/ cinematographer/ editor/ screenplay or story writer) is a must in all categories except the public service announcement category which is open to all. Another unique aspect of this festival is the premiere of women-directed films that will be showcased for the first-time ever. The five day festival will also include lectures, guest seminars, workshops and much more. The first deadline for entries is 30th June 2013.

Bored of regular commercial films? You know just the right festivals to head to and experience exceptional cinema from across the world!

Post By Esha Verma (33 Posts)

Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.

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Esha Verma

Esha Verma
Writing is a passion I discovered a little late. But better late than never. When not penning my thoughts, you'll find me sniffing around for good food - trying out every new restaurant in town is a hobby. I swear by Hindi films and when doing nothing of the above you'll find me troubling my pet pooch.