Mumbai Film Festival is a kind of  Mecca for film lovers. Once a year we go to this “Haj Yatra” of cinema and wash our all industry sins,renew our cinematic love, meet new emotions, experience a feeling of high and enjoy different cultures. And this year it is even more exciting, with plethora of quality films coming from World over.

MAMI can be very frustrating, if you don’t know what to watch. I personally want to watch a film without knowing much about it. That’s how I discovered cinema. I was completely unaware about “Shawshank Redemption” and actually wanted to stop watching it after a while and then suddenly Andy Dufresne vanished and Warden Norton threw a stone through the poster of Raquel Welch. I was shocked, I was blown away. I was dumbstruck. I still believe that knowing too much about a film actually spoils it. Specially when we raise our expectations. But then MFF can be a very tricky place. If you want to see films here, without knowing anything about them, then I am sure you will end up watching quite a lot of crap. That depends on schedule, limitations of screens, number of films, crowd and your personal taste. One way is to simply follow the crowd, but now with the online seat booking, this could be too risky.

Anyways so you should know a little bit about the films. In fact that’s what I have been doing over the last few days, just getting little information, a glimpse, making a kind of shortlist, so that I can watch lots of better films.

Now at the end of the day it is your personal choice. We like certain kind of films and which most others might not like and vice-versa. I hope you know what kind of films you like most. Now this guide is based on my personal taste, now i don’t want to define it. May be with my reccos you will find it.

My criteria for shortlist is

  • Premise
  • Festivals awards and Nominations
  • IMDB ratings w.r.t to the number of votes
  • Genre
  • Personal Taste
  • Reccos by Friends

I am not reading any external reviews, I might watch few trailers and may be put a link here. But strictly I don’t want to know the plot and read festival reviews. As I told you I want to watch films, just as I meet few wonderful people accidentally. Of course it comes with a disclaimer.  But believe me that’s how you will enjoy more.

Part One: Documentaries @ MFF

A People UncountedIn 2011 MFF, I came across a powerful documentary A People Uncounted. I always wondered about Gypsies (Roma), people who supposedly made journey from India to Europe through hundreds of centuries. May be it was Emir Kusturica‘s movies, they were always viewed with suspicion. They heavily contributed to Western Music. Flamenco music is prime example. We all know of Senorita, but little did we know that it is the music of gypsies. Anyway the documentary shows how Romani and not Jews were more targeted by Hitler and how conveniently western world forgets that. I am always thankful to MFF, for showcasing such powerful documentary. And after that I have always been keeping a special eye on documentaries at MFF.

MFF gets documentaries from across the world, mostly from Sundance film festival and Tribeca. But I am most curious about a documentary that won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Berlin International Film Festival.



The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing


IMDB gives it rating of 7.9 from 2812 votes and it won the audience award at Berlin too.

Premise is terrific

“A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.”

It is more than enough for me. I don’t even want to watch the trailer. I am sold out. And even now if you unconvinced here is the trailer.





Now this is something indeed. Let me start with the IMDB Premise.

“Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.”

The Killer Whale or Orcas are also known as Blackfish, primarily due to their coloration. It belongs to Oceanic Dolphin Family, which includes dolphins and whales. 11 Million years ago they were a dog like family of mammals and they made reverse journey to the oceans. They are probably the most intelligent species after humans. They have their own language and each individual has a particular names. And according to scientists they call each other with names. We are trying to understand their language but they definitely understand ours. There has been rumors that Indian government has granted person hood status to Blackfish’s cousins ie Dolphins.

Sharks as assumed by most of us as the most dangerous fish, is prey for Orcas. They kill them like a leopard killing a deer. Intelligent killer whales are king of seas and not any other fish.

When I watched this BBC documentary on dolphins, I was completely surprised

In some known cases, Dolphins over-smart humans. They use Brazilian fishermen for their motive and at the same time give something in return. And Orcas are as intelligent as dolphins. They have a dark side too. Some dolphins are known to abduct and rape females of their species. And no wonder TiliKum decides to take revenge on his handlers.

Any way I am always interested in animal intelligence and wildlife. And I hope this will turn out to be a terrific documentary for me. If you are not interested in wildlife and animal intelligence, I suggest you skip this one. There is good amount of chance that it will come on discovery or Nat Geo, may be after a year or two.

And by the way, there is always some counter point when it comes to understanding animals. Why not find out yourself?

For those yet to be convinced, here is the trailer

And by the way it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival.

Now come two surprises. Two Indian documentaries, with a terrific premise and highly rated. The first one is Powerless, nominated for Best documentary feature at Tribeca Film Festival.

Powerless (Katiyabaaz)

Katiyabaaz Still 1If you are from a small town, you must have known the pain of power cuts. It is depressing. You want to work, but you can’t. You want to study but it is a torture. You want get yourself electrocuted and/or get fucked but there is no power. Power is an issue for most of India. Mumbaikars will probably never understand it. Because it is a feeling that you have to experience. a feeling of desperation. And this desperation often leads to power theft. And when there is demand there is always a black market. I think Katiyabaaz is all about this and more.

It has IMDB rating of 8  from 7 votes. So nothing much of an indication here. But I think this will connect with the Indian audience. I loved the cinematography. I just hopes it also shows other side of the story, i.e why there is power theft in the first place.Again I just hope it presents balanced point of view. And I think trailer indicates it.

Faith Connections

Faith ConnectionsThe second Indian Documentary I am looking out for is Faith Connections. Just have look at the premise.

“A Sadhu who renounced the society, adopts a baby renounced by society.”

And it’s directed by Samsara fame “Pan Nalin” urf Nalin kumar Pandya

I am sold out, also because I loved Bala’s Naan Kaduval


Now for the dark horses, Sundance Best Cinematography Winner

Who is Dayani Crystal ?

Who is Dayani Cristal PosterFirst of all here’s the premise, which I found very interesting

“An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for identity leads us back across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo.”

Second reason is Gael Garcia Bernal , I don’t know what he is doing here. I hope he is presenting.

And why it is a Dark horse because i couldn’t find a proper trailer. Plz Update

And then there is one more.

Tales from the Organ Trade

Tales from the Organ TradeWhy dark horse? No mention of awards. Not an interesting IMDB premise. though it has a 7.5 IMDB rating but just 17 votes.

But it has an interesting trailer.

I still think it might have something in it. If you miss a big film due to mad crowd rush, this is a good back up option.

Anyways I think with many big feature films featuring, one would like to limit himself to five or six documentaries

Coming up next –

Mumbai Film Festival 2013 Guide Part Two : Festival Darlings