October is a magical time for Mumbaikars who are also movie lovers as Mumbai Film Festival or MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Images Film Festival) as it is popularly known, brings to our theatres not only some of the best art house films from across the world but also allows us to explore some unique and alternative Indian cinema and Hollywood movies.
This year, the festival -- which was inaugurated on 25 October -- boasts of a fantastic line-up with films by Jafar Panahi, Jean-Luc Godard, Lars von Trier, Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Spike Lee, Alfonso Cuarón and many more gifted filmmakers. There are about 200 films that will be screened across Mumbai, in various theatres. Therefore, to help you plan your schedule better here's our top five movie picks that will be screened today.
1. 'Bulbul Can Sing': Rima Das who tasted International acclaim with her previous film, Village Rockstars brings another movie from the heart of rural Assam -- Bulbul Can Sing. The film has already received a lot of love at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section earlier this year.
Bulbul Can Sing -- made in Das' immersive style -- tells the story of a free-spirited teenage girl, Bulbul. A coming-of-age drama, Bulbul Can Sing follows the journies of Bulbul and her two close friends, Bonny and Sumu, as they come to terms with their own sexualities and the mores of rural Assam. We see Bulbul transform from a girl to a woman as she acquaints herself with love and death for the first time.
Where to watch: PVR, Oberoi Mall.
What time: 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
2. 3 Faces' -- Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi, tells yet another fascinating tale of creative oppression and censorship in an engaging, humorous and ingenious way -- albeit obliquely -- as he turns his camera lens away from his life under oppression and shows us the lives of women who refuse to live a resigned existence in the rural patriarchal societies of Iran.
The title of the film 3 Faces alludes to three women in the film, all of whom are actresses. We begin with a teenage girl, Marziyeh, who lives in a small village and dreams of becoming an actress and wants to study acting in a nearby conservatory. For her desire to be an actress she is often called an 'empty-headed brat' because the villagers expect her to marry and mate, like all the other women.
In a desperate bid to get out of this restrictive atmosphere, Marziyeh shoots a video footage of her trying to commit suicide and sends it to Behnaz Jafari, a successful actress, and urges her to come and save her. Jafari, who faces a dilemma of whether to ignore the girl's plea and somehow be responsible for her suicide or not, finally decides to take a road trip to this girl's village with Jafar Panahi, and see for herself how the girl is doing. In the village, we also hear (and never see) the third woman, a yesteryear actress, who is now a social leper because she worked in the movie world.
Panahi imbued the film with humour as he shows us how deeply ingrained certain traditions are in people, and while most of the villagers are simple folks, they are also extremely hypocritical and unprogressive.
Where to watch: PVR, Oberoi Mall
What time: 10:30 AM - 12:10 PM
3. Jonaki: Aditya Vikram Sengupta, an Indian filmmaker, whose first movie -- Labour of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe)--- won the best debut prize at Venice Film Festival offers his latest film, Jonaki, to the viewers at Mumbai Film Festival.
Jonaki had its world premiere in the Bright Future Section of the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and is about a woman in her 80s (Lolita Chatterjee) and about her memories of love, death, happiness and loss.
The film oscillates between a world inside the head of the protagonist, and the real world and has a dream-like, ethereal quality to it. With minimal words, Sengupta uses mindfully crafted scenes -- as exquisite as paintings -- to immerse the viewers into his film. The narrative is sleepy but never sleep-inducing as his rich luxurious settings take us to a place between real and imaginary.
The film also features Jim Sarbh, Sumanto Chattopadhyay and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee in important roles.
Where to watch: PVR, City Mall
What time: 3:45 PM - 5:45 PM
4: The House That Jack Built: This movie is your dose of extreme, edgy Hollywood drama and here's a word of caution: This is not for the faint-hearted. The House That Jack Built gives us a portrait of a serial killer (Matt Dillon) and unravels in flashbacks as we see him kill -- in gory, excruciatingly painful vivid details -- women, and children alike.
There is no explaining why the killer turned out to be the way he did -- no psychoanalysis of some childhood complex or no reason for his utter lunacy (like there aren't any in real life cases) but leave it to filmmaker Lars von Trier to show you a crazy killer. The film proceeds to show us five 'incidents' where he unleashes his monstrosity on unsuspecting victims -- he strangles, butchers and tortures them --- in this dark (believe it or not) serial killer comedy.
The film is grisly, and overblown and takes the axiomatic wisdom of serial killer genre in which we mostly know serial killers to be the extremely intelligent psychopaths, who are good at covering tracks and turns it on its head.
Where to watch: Regal Cinemas
What time: 6:30 PM - 9:05 PM
5. Fahrenheit 11/9: Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose claim to fame was Fahrenheit 9/11, a political commentary on George Bush's administration and on his war against terrorism and the media coverage of the same, have another documentary with a very similar name --- Fahrenheit 11/9. The 11 and 9 in the title Fahrenheit 11/9 refer to the month and the date in which Donald Trump, the current President of United States won the election.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is more of an angry tirade than a commentary on Trump presidency, but Moore does it effectively and in style with a lot of snazzy music. In the film we see the filmmaker interview Americans to understand the impact of Trump's victory on their lives. As in his previous documentary, the filmmaker analyses the role of media -- and the fake news machinery --- in Trump's presidency as well.
Moore's anger on Trump being the President is infectious. He focuses on all the things that are wrong in American society -- from school shootings to water crisis to teachers strike. The film packs in too many things in too less a time. You'd have to play catch up to Moore for most parts because he doesn't slow down to even catch a breath.
Where to watch: Liberty Carnival Cinemas
What time: 2:15 PM - 4:20 PM