Come October and there is only one thing on most movie buffs mind in the city of dreams : MAMI. Re-christened Mumbai Film Festival a few years back it is easily the top film festival in Mumbai and among the best in the country. For me personally, it has played a major role in shaping my tastes in cinema. It was the first ever film festival I had attended in 2009 and I have tried my best to attend it every year since. But due to academic compulsions I have had to give this year’s event a miss.

After spending hours spewing venom on my fate and cursing fellow MAM authors and others who attended the film festival, I started making a mental note of the features of film festivals like MAMI that I missed the most. But then I haven’t written a for a very long time, so I thought why not jot down what I love about film festivals as it could make for a nice little post.

So here we go :-
The Quality On Offer
The biggest and the most obvious reason. The quality of films at MAMI has shot up so significantly in the last few years that the days when the ‘Retrospective’ section used to be the most exciting part of the line-up are long gone. We now get to see quite a few hot in the festival circuit films.

Atmosphere
The atmosphere in film festivals is addictive. There is only cinema on everyone’s mind. Films are recommended, discussed, debated and fought upon. All this happens during the short time one gets between running from one screening to another.

Crowd
Most attendees at film festivals are cinema lovers. They respect the movie watching experience. So, the usual nuisance at movie halls is almost absent. Any disturbance like a ringing phone or even a chat with the person sitting next to you during a film is fiercely protested.

No (Pablo Larrain)Discovering Hidden Gems
With the huge number of films on show there are bound to be a few unknown and underrated directors who get discovered at the Mumbai Film Festival. I discovered Pablo Larrain in the 2012 edition and then went on to fall in love with his filmography.

No Intervals
The profit greedy exhibitors who derive greater margin from popcorn than the actual ticket sales force a jarring interval into Hollywood films though they are not meant to have one. This is a major downer for me as it seriously kills the flow of the film. The film festivals though spare us movie buffs from any interruption in the flow.

The October Scheduling
The Mumbai film festival is one of the earliest in the film festival season of the country. This gives it an added advantage of watching films before they are out on torrents much to the envy of other movie buffs around India.

Big Screen Experience
Yes, many cinephiles find solace in the very personal experience of watching films at home. But most films are meant for the big screen and won’t have as much of an impact at home. Holy Motors which blew me away again in the 2012 event wouldn’t have been half as effective on my monitor.

Uncensored
We Indian cinema bhakts are at the mercy of our honourable censor board. Be it nudity, political boldness or foul language all get the scissors at the hands of the censor board. That one can watch a piece of filmmaking just as the way its makers want us to, is what I consider a major positive of any film festival. Watching Antichrist as a 19 year old on a big screen at the 2009 event of Mumbai Film Festival is one of the most unforgettable experiences i have had.