Indian film festivals come of age
On the eve of the Mumbai Film Festival, filmmaker Shyam Benegal had confidently said this is the best festival India has seen so far. As the festival came to a close amid the hits and the misses, the crowds cheering and hooting, his hyperbole became a fact.
Benegal, chairman of MAMI that organises the event, had reasoned that a festival is as big as its films. Showcasing the winners of the best festivals in the world, including Cannes, Berlin and Venice, if you couldn`t go there, you could catch it here. And that was fair for Bolly-town. After all the biggest film-producing nation deserves one of the biggest festivals.
Yet, much to the delight of viewers, and often frustrations – after all, too many good films make you miss a few must-watch ones – the festival scored due to many other reasons as well.
The strongest were some stunning films in its International Competition section that carries a Rs.1 crore prize money, one of the biggest in the world. The mastery and control of the cinematic medium shown by these first timers challenges the dominance of masters. A few of them are bound to leave their stamp on world cinema in the next couple of decades. When they do, Mumbai viewers would proudly say they saw their films, and them, at MAMI.
Then there was the film mart, which is slowly becoming a very important event in the commercial cinematic calendar of the festival. There were people from non-traditional global markets, including Germany, South Korea, Japan and Latin America, scouting for the next Indian film to take back home.