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What you didn't know about the Mumbai Film Festival

Last updated on: October 28, 2013 16:01 IST

What you didn't know about the Mumbai Film Festival

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Nishi Tiwari in Mumbai

Nishi Tiwari brings us the behind-the-scenes gossip from the recently-concluded Mumbai Film Festival.

'Make that damn thing stop or I swear I'm gonna find it and tear it apart," a jaded 20-something film festival goer tells his friend in a moment of desperation.

He's referring to the World Heart Day anthem Mumbai ki dhadkan that has been playing on loop at Cinemax in Versova, a western Mumbai suburb -- one of the three theatres holding screenings for the 15th Mumbai Film Festival.

It's the last day at the fest and after back-to-back shows, endless hours spent standing in lines and dissecting all the films they've watched, cinephiles are fresh out of patience for something that sneaks up on you from every conceivable nook and corner of the multiplex.

No, even washrooms haven't been spared.

Besides this minor glitch though, Cinemax is having a better time managing the festival crowd and screening schedules as compared to the other two venues -- Liberty and Metro Big Cinemas in Marine Lines, South Mumbai.

The ticketing system introduced this year -- wherein the delegates required to book seats beforehand instead of simply standing in line for the film they intended to watch -- caused much confusion and heartburn, in some cases, at Metro.

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Image: A film festival patron takes a closer look
Photographs: Nishi Tiwari/Rediff.com

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There's much screaming and flailing of arms (in a very grown-up manner, of course) when some delegates standing in line for Michel Gondry's French film Mood Indigo are politely informed that they will only be let in if there's still space left after admitting everybody with prior booking.

Tempers flare because 'We have paid Rs 2,000 for this festival and we refuse to be humiliated like this,' a gent asserts while looking around himself for support while others quickly grasp the situation and make a separate line.

But that's the only sign of hyperactivity you are to witness at Metro and the sleepy little Liberty, frequented by mellow senior citizens, the sophisticated SoBo residents and the pre-occupied lot from the suburbs.

Cinemax, on the other hand, is teeming with struggling writers, assistant directors on the cusp of bigger things and actors who you recognise but can't place.

The conversations are worth eavesdropping on -- one zealous teenager, standing in line for an unusually dark film Hush, claims to have watched 29 films at the festival, which is not possible because it's only day three and if you were to watch back-to-back films, you'd manage five in a day.

Then there are television actors scaling the length of the multiplex between shows, looking into strangers' eyes for a hint of recognition.


Image: A patron, with an eye-popping satchel, talks to a friend in line for Ilo Ilo
Photographs: Nishi Tiwari/Rediff.com

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Indu Raman, who calls herself an 'unsuccessful writer' is a trained classical dancer and has recently found a new passion in films.

A MFF for the past five-six years, Raman believes that the films screened this year aren't at par with its standard.

"A lot of films that were screened here last year went on to win big international awards. This year I believe they've got only substandard fare," she rues.

The fest organising body's decision to bring the festival to the suburbs, especially to Versova, has been welcomed by film lovers who live in the vicinity.

Raman agrees, "That's a great decision but why not have some of the workshops, panel discussions here too? Most of the film directors, writers and even actors live around here.

"Besides, it'd be great if they make us feel included in the whole affair a little. We feel a little isolated with all the events happening only in Liberty and Metro," she says.

She did enjoy a few films though: "I loved (Tom Hardy starrer) Locke and (Richard Linklater's) Before Midnight a lot."


Image: Festival regular Indu Raman
Photographs: Nishi Tiwari/Rediff.com

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Locke and Before Midnight may have been favourites for some but the films that swept the popularity charts at this film festival were The Great Beauty, Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Katiyabaaz and Ilo Ilo.

While The Great Beauty show going housefull in a screen at Metro caused a few breakdowns, a heated exchange on the last day screening of Ilo Ilo at Cinemax apparently ended with fisticuffs.

But nothing could top the frenzy that followed the twin screenings of Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue Is The Warmest Colour, which boasts of one of the longest, most graphic sex scenes in celluloid history (which, in all likelihood, was one of the reasons behind the strong buzz around the film).

While Liberty couldn't meet the overwhelming demands even with its 736 seats, online booking for the film's Cinemax screening -- on a weekday, no less -- filled out in mere 45 minutes of the opening.


Image: Delegates book shows as Liberty bears a deserted look during a show
Photographs: Nishi Tiwari/Rediff.com

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Another highlight, for Mumbai film lovers, was the presence of French filmmaker Leos Carax.

Carax's exceedingly bizarre Holy Motors found favours with the audience when it screened at MFF last year.

Attending the festival himself this year --  there was a section dedicated as an ode to his work -- the director commanded a lot of respect, but from a distance, as cinephiles, filmmakers, film critics who have followed his work rushed to Twitter to gush about his equally bizarre and aloof demeanour.

Word is, he doesn't even take off his sunglasses inside movie screenings.


Image: Leos Carax
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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