Jio MAMI 17th Film Fest
17 Films to Watch

Engrossing Thriller Drama

Ride of a City Insight of a Country

Film Review
Jio MAMI Jio!:Film Feastival for Cinephiles

Jio MAMI Jio!
17 Films Writers can look forward to at the Jio MAMI 17th Film Fest 

Globally, Mumbai is synonymous with Indian films. There is hardly a corner of the world that is not familiar with the term ‘Bollywood.’ We may or may not like the term but with Mumbai, the first thing that comes to mind is Films. To a city that lives and breathes cinema then, comes the annual Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Fest, from 29th Oct-5th Nov 2015, showcasing films from India as well as across the world, and bridging the gap between cinematic mediums.

Jio MAMI Film Fest is like a Luxurious Buffet of scrumptious international cuisine where gourmand cinephiles may want to feast on everything. Unfortunately our appetite is limited. We can’t but have to make selections based on our likings.
To help you we have shortlisted 17 entries for this 17th Edition of MAMI Film Fest that we think may be of interest to you especially as a Writer.

Besides these, there is also Satyajit Ray’s landmark contribution to Indian cinema, the much celebrated Apu Trilogy - Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar – that’s the cherry on the cake.
Gurudutt’s Pyasa and few more legends in the Restored Classics Section, present a rare opportunity to check out the Old Gold on the Silver Screen.  

1. Dheepan

‘Dheepan’promises to be a rivetting human interest story and stars former Tamil Tiger child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan in the lead. Loosely inspired by Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, it chronicles the subsequent lives of three Tamil refugees who escape the civil unrest in Sri Lanka and migrate to France in search of political asylum. The three hide a terrible secret, as all are unrelated, forced into a strange proximity under assumed identities merely to save their lives. Directed by Jacques Audiard of ‘The Prophet’ fame, ‘Dheepan’ won the Palm d’Or at Cannes earlier this year.

2. Room

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Screenplay by Emma Donoghue - ‘Room’ is based on the novel by the same name by same writer. Room is an engrossing thriller. It is the story of a young woman who was kidnapped years ago and then gets pregnant by her kidnapper, who refuses to let her go. The child is born in the same small room as well. When he is about five years of age and oblivious of the outside world as he has been seeing everything as 2D images on TV inside the small room, Ma the mother cannot put up with the confinement any longer and devises a plan by which the boy escapes and gets help for her too. The story does not end here though; both of them must now learn to cope with the bewildering and harsh outside world, after having been confined to only the ‘Room’ for much of their lives.
For Writers, Room is more than worth a watch for its characterization and dialogue. You can connect psychologically with the characters as you see montages through their PoV and feel their emotions through dialogue and expressions. Brie Larson as Ma and Jacob Tremblay as young Jack brilliantly realize their characters to life.
Please book your ROOM and check-in early to avoid rush. Hope MAMI will provide enough “ROOM” for a large turnout.        
‘Room’ has 6 wins and 1 nomination.
The Film won People’s Choice Award at TIFF ’15 and
Most Popular Canadian Film’s at Vancouver IFF ’15.  

3.  Chauthi Koot

Chauthi Koot or ‘Fourth Direction’ is a starkly compelling account of militancy in Punjab in post-Independence India, following the folly of Operation Blue Star in the 80’s. Directed by Gurvinder Singh, the movie relates the account of two men on their way to Amritsar, enveloped in an atmosphere of fear and paranoia. Most of the film is related in flashback and is ably abetted by the raw emotions summoned up by the cast. Chauthi Koot has been screened in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it received a ten minute standing ovation.

4. Taxi

‘Taxi’ is a salute to the intrepid spirit of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has a 20-year ban on making films and is under house arrest in Iran for making films that are allegedly derogatory about the country and its culture. Despite that, Panahi has been known to make films somehow and smuggle them out to film festivals somehow!

‘Taxi’ has been shot using dashboard cameras, entirely in a cab driven by Panahi himself around the city of Tehran and documents confidences exchanged by passengers, including a little girl, all non-professional actors and whose identities have been kept concealed.
Various characters, their opinions, their reactions all make up for a politically stimulating screenplay full of humor and satire.  

The film won the Golden Bear as well as FIPRESCI at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

5. Umrika

Simply titled and with the unique twist that Indian colloquialism brings to the word ‘America,’ it would be interesting to see how director Prashant Nair has treated the Indian obsession of all things American. Right from western style commodes to female wrestlers, he seems to have spanned the fetish spectrum. The film is about Uday (Prateik Babbar) who sets off for America, leaving his young brother behind, who, once grown up, realises that all the letters from America have been forged by his father and that his brother actually went missing from Mumbai itself. He then sets off in search of his brother. The film won the ‘World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award’ at the 2015 Sundance Festival and stars Suraj Sharma who made his screen debut with ‘Life of Pi.’

6. Driving with Selvi

Canadian filmmaker Elisa Paloschi attempts to detail the journey of Selvi through a film that took ten years in the making. This is the true story of Selvi who was forced into an abusive marriage at the age of 14, escaped, and overcame many obstacles to become Karnataka’s first female taxi driver as also start her own taxi company. Today, at age 27, she is a wife and mother again. Fulfilling your dreams and a never-say-die spirit is what this movie is about. Selvi and Elisa are both expected to attend MAMI.

7. Junun

‘Junun’ is probably worth watching simply for the spectacular shots of Rajasthan in all its rich colours, musical frenzy as well as its starkness of landscape, as shot through the eyes of a foreign crew. Director Paul Thomas Anderson does a marvellous job in depicting how a home style orchestra and studio can produce some of the most compelling, soul stirring rhythms. Anderson has partnered with Israeli musician Shye Ben Tzur and the Indian folk collective ‘The Rajasthan Express’ - a collaboration that made its debut performance at the World Sufi Spirit Festival in Rajasthan earlier this year. ‘Junun’ is a music documentary of an album by the same name, set in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur. The documentary captivatingly depicts Musician Jonny Greenwood journey through Rajasthan where he performs with multitude of local Musicians. 

8. He Named Me Malala

Directed by David Guggenheim, the movie is, as the title suggests, based on the life of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani teen who captured world attention as the face of female education rights in this part of the sub-continent. Despite being shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to continue with her studies, Malala not only survived but went on to become the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever. The movie is a documentary on her extraordinary life.

The documentary has one win and one nomination to its credit. It won the Best Gala Audience Award at San Diego Film Festival 2015.

9. Marry Me

This is Germany-based Neelesha Barthel’s debut as a feature film maker; she has earlier directed three documentaries. ‘Marry Me’ is about Kissy, who does not want to have anything to do with her Indian roots. However, she has bargained without her grandmother, who arrives suddenly and is rather aghast to find Kissy as a single mother. Grandma is determined to see her married to Robert, the father of the child and thus ensues a lively, colourful comedy in true Indian spirit.

10. Mountains May Depart

Chinese director Jia Zhangke tells this story of emotional restraint and resignation in three timelines. A handful of people; their hopes, dreams and failed lives. In 1999, Zhang’s fortunes are on the rise. He falls in love and marries Tao. Cut to 2014; the couple have split and Zhang has custody of their son, Dollar. The father struggles to communicate with the son in English and relies on Google to translate, while Dollar, brought up in Australia and an abundance of wealth, can barely speak Cantonese. Come 2025 and the film focuses on Dollar, the product of his upbringing. ‘Mountains May Depart’ urges you to remember that relationship gaps may become chasms, unless one is careful.

11. Tangerine

Directed by Sean Baker, ‘Tangerine’ is a revolution in film making, in that it has been shot entirely on iPhones and made its premiere at the Sundance Festival 2015 too! It promises to be a laugh riot, as it has been shot outside the donut shop near Baker’s home and is about black transvestite sex worker Sin-Dee-Rella, who comes out of prison to find her pimp and boyfriend has hooked up with a white woman, and thus begins her search to get even with them.

12. The Lobster

Unlikely name for a film that is a dark comedy with a sci-fi theme! In the near future, single people will be taken to The Hotel, where they must find a mate within 45-days or else be killed and reincarnated into an animal of their choice. David arrives at the facility with his dog, who had actually been his brother. Through a series of bizarre twists and turns David escapes and falls in with a set of ‘loners’ who live in the wild. With Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos at the helm, the film stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes film festival this year.


13. The Forbidden Room

Written & Directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Co-writers Robert Kotyk, Kim Morgan TFR is an unusual treat of visuals and sound. The specialty of Maddin’s films is their weirdness. They are different but entertaining, crazy but funny.  Not overtly esoteric but at the same time, not everyone’s cup of tea.  

Termed as “A Wild Demented Cinephillac Feast” – by The Hollywood Observer, TFR is Maddin’s most complex narrative in which a submarine crew, a pack of forest bandits, a famous surgeon, and a battalion of child soldiers all get trapped under deep waters. Their travel through the corridors of the vessel actually becomes their journey on the path of their darkest fears and eventually their way toward progressive ideas on life and love.

A fragmented narrative of many shorts, through an onslaught of visuals and sounds, was a fun to watch for half of the audience (at Sundance Public Screening) as the other half left the hall in the middle. :|

The Forbidden Room is indeed a Welcome Stopover for those who enjoy madness. Even on our list it's at No. 13  ;)

The Forbidden Room has two wins including The Special Jury Award at the Las Palmas Film Festival 2015.


14. 99 Homes

Written & Directed by Ramin Bahrani with co-writers Amir Naderi and Bahareh Azimi; 99 Homes is a high emotion drama where the Protagonist Dennis Nash, is facing a strange conflict of reliving his tragedy every-day. An ordinary worker Nash (Andrew Garfield) is evicted from his home in an aftermath of 2008 Banking Collapse. Though legally he can file an appeal, evil personified realtor Carver (Michael Shannon) along with his Agency of Law Enforcers throw Nash out of his home. Circumstances force Nash to fall into employment of same tormentor Craver and eventually become his right hand in carrying out more evictions. Some scenes are too painful to watch. When the system has become devil, maybe doing devil’s business is the need of the time. Strong central conflict and the rising transition of each event of eviction, with gradual transformation of the lead character makes the film a text book case for Writers of drama genre.
99 Homes has 4 wins and 2 nominations, including Best Film at Venice Film Festival 2014.      


15. Deathgasm

Written & Directed by Jason Lei Howden Deathgasm is recommended only for pure fun as a change. Though the film was also nominated for Best Narrative and became 2nd Runner-up at Sydney Film Festival 2015.

A Metal Band stumbles upon an old Music note in Latin and performs it, unaware that this note actually evokes some evil spirits and those listening start turning into zombies. From here on, the entire town is now on the non-stop spree of becoming zombies. Our Band now faces the task of stopping the juggernaut of zombification. And they do with whatever at their disposal which also include sex toys. The film struck chord with young audience thanks to Music, Fun, Romance and Gore. It pays tribute to all the erstwhile horror monsters like Evil Dead, Braindead etc. and at the same time spoofs every clichéd element of horror.

If horror comedy is your poison, this Film will have you in splits..lol. 

16. Dhanak (Rainbow)

Written & Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, Dhanak will be premiering at Jio MAMI, launching the Film Fest’s new category “Half-Ticket” wherein Films for children and young adults will be presented and judged by Children’s jury from across Mumbai.

Dhanak is the Story of siblings – aged 10 (Pari) and 8 (Chhotu), who lost their parents and live with relatives in a village amidst sand dunes of Rajasthan desert. Chhotu can’t see, but he’s not unhappy. Pari is his eyes. And he is the life of his kasbah. Sister Pari promised him he will be able to see on his 9th Birthday. Chhotu believes her “blindly”. When his 9th birthday approaches Pari runs away from their house with Chhotu, to reach out to Shah Rukh Khan who is promoting eye donations. She hopes SRK will help keep her promise to Chhotu.  

The Film is a simple touching story. How their journey traverses across Rajasthan encountering various colourful characters, some of which help, some create hurdles, form the screenplay. Writers can look forward to crafting of screenplay from a simple premise.

Dhanak has 2 wins and 1 nomination including Crystal Bear at Berlin Film Festival 2015.    

17. Un Plus Une (French for article ‘a’ for male and female respectively).

Acclaimed French Septuagenarian Writer-Director Claude Lelouch‘s latest addition to his five decades of Filmmaking is ‘Un Plus Une’ which will be the closing Film of Jio Mami Festival.

Co-written with Valerie Perrin and set in France and India, the film follows Antoine (Jean Dujardin), a self-involved man-child and an Oscar winning composer’s visit to India to work on Indian remake of Romeo and Juliet. Commitment phobic Antoine leaves behind his girlfriend when she proposes marriage and lands in India where he meets the French ambassador's unfulfilled wife Anna (Elsa Zylbertsein) and a complicated relationship ensues as he joins Anna on her spiritual journey to meet Amma, famous spiritual healer of South India. This leads to tensions with their existing partners who feel left behind.

Kalki Koechlin and Rahul Vohra make appearances in the film.    

‘Un Plus Une’ which was received with mixed reviews across the festival circuit will be the part of the ‘Rendezvous’ category of MAMI which brings to us the best contemporary French Films.

Thank you very much. Bon Appetite.

*Compiled exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India.

NOTE - Members who are watching films at Jio MAMI and want to submit their reviews for publishing on our website, may please do so thro Members' Contribution tab at their dashboard or Email us at editor.fwa.co.in@gmail.com





   Punam Mohandas and Sanjay Sharma


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