20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival: Here are the 10 movies you must watch

A still from Shoplifters
How does one navigate the maze that is the 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival? Consider J Jagannath’s recommendations on the 10 movies you must watch. Never mind the insane queues


Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, who can safely stake a claim to be the 21st century’s Yasujiro Ozu, won the prestigious Palme d’Or for this movie about a little girl finding herself a home in a family of shoplifters. This quirky and inventive drama has Kore-eda outdoing his already enviable ouevre that includes movies like Maborosi.

A still from Cold War
Cold War

Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski, who won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for his 2014 release Ida, grabbed Best Director at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This dense and fascinating movie traverses the turbulent relationship of a man and woman in post-World War II Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, and demands to be watched for its politics and all its unfortunate twists.

A still from Ash is Purest White
Ash is Purest White

In his latest film Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke seems to have picked up from where he left off in his Mountains May Depart. This indefatigable explorer of the economic boom in China looks at his subject matter through the eyes of a gangster’s ex-girlfriend who tries to make sense of the breakneck transformation of 21st-century China. After spending five years in prison. A favourite at the Toronto and Cannes film festivals, the film is both shocking and heartwarming.

A still from Touch Me Not
Touch Me Not

This Romanian movie directed by Adina Pintilie might just be the most divisive and talked-about movie at this year’s Mumbai film festival. Depending on your world view, this movie about human sexuality and its boundaries will either completely suck you in or leave you stone cold.

A still from Grass & Hotel by the River
Grass & Hotel by the River

Anything by Korean director Hong Sang-soo is a must-watch. He’s constitutionally incapable of making a boring movie. Two of his latest movies are being shown at the fest, both masterclasses in how to make an unsexily-made movie look sexy.

A still from Burning

It took seven long years for Korean film-maker Lee Chang-dong to follow up his heartbreakingly classy Poetry with this murderously watchable movie adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story. It’s about three disparate individuals who bond over everything nebulously and part ways in equally abstract fashion. But what stays with you is the slow burn of each frame, especially the climactic scene when Lee Jong-soo’s character decides to strip naked on a bone-chilling snowy afternoon.

A still from Roma

Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón returned to wielding the megaphone after his Oscar-grabbing Gravity with this simultaneously intimate and sprawling tale of a testing year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Ever since Netflix acquired its distribution rights, the world is abuzz with chatter about how streaming services might just replace studios in the coming years. Coupled with the Oscar buzz surrounding it, there’s a lot riding on this semi-autobiographical take by Cuarón.

A still from The Heiresses
The Heiresses

This tale of class transcendence set in Paraguay, a directorial debut by Marcelo Martinessi, was the toast of the Berlin Film Festival. Financial Times’ movie critic Nigel Andrews summed up this riveting movie thus, “The nuances in this tickling, near-perfect tragicomedy are so fine you could slip them between adjacent atoms.”

Steve Loveridge’s documentary on MIA

Steve Loveridge’s documentary on MIA, the combative English-Sri Lankan pop star, can be received either as pure propaganda or as a portrait of an artist who never stops being political. Either way, it’s a rare amalgam for a world that needs a unifying artist like MIA to riff eloquent about everything from the LTTE to illegal immigrants. The film is spliced beautifully with footage from her childhood and adolescence.

A still from Rafiki

The first Kenyan feature to ever screen at Cannes, this drama by Wanuri Kahiu is about two Kenyan girls who fall in love. It was banned in its home country because it “legitimises homosexuality” — despite its ambiguous ending, which by no means leaves its protagonists living happily-ever-after. Yet another politically charged movie at the Mumbai film festival, especially given India’s Supreme Court recent ruling in favour of decriminalising homosexuality.

The 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival will be held from October 25 to November 1, 2018, at nine venues across Mumbai. For more information and festival schedules, visit www.mumbaifilmfestival.com

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