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Mumbai moments

The annual film festival juggernaut rolls on, and it was time for Mumbai last week. The annual Mumbai Film Festival, run by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image or MAMI for short, is a highlight in the Mumbai cineaste calendar. For me, it is a great opportunity to catch up with fellow film enthusiasts and colleagues, and time permitting, watch a few films as well. On my flight into Mumbai, I met UK-based Turkish filmmaker Faruk Hacihafizoğlu, on the last leg of his lengthy festival journey with his debut film Snow Pirates.

The film bowed at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Crystal Bear for Best Film in the Generation Kplus strand. At the Istanbul International Film Festival, it was nominated for the Golden Tulip for Best Turkish Film of the Year. At the Malatya International Film Festival, it won the Crystal Apricot for Best Film, and at the Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival, it was nominated for the Open Eyes Jury Award. It scored two more nominations — Best Asian Feature at the Singapore International Film Festival and a Bronze Horse at the Stockholm Film Festival Junior. The atmosphere in Snow Pirates is decidedly chilly — minus 35 to be precise. For those (like me) who thought that Turkey is a tropical paradise, the city of Kars in the North East of the country is a cold surprise. The city was the setting for Orhan Pamuk’s 2002 novel Snow. Snow Pirates is set in 1980, just after a military coup in Turkey. It is the dead of winter and the city is suffering from a lack of coal, vital to staying warm and alive. A bunch of enterprising early teens make it their mission to find coal scraps to heat their homes. Based on Hacihafizoğlu’s own experiences while growing up in Kars, the film is both charming and chilling (in both senses of the word) and is well worth seeking out.

Snow Pirates is part of a country focus on Turkey that the Mumbai Film Festival put together this year. A high-level delegation flew in from Turkey and discussed the possibility of a co-production treaty with their Indian counterparts. Acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Reha Erdem served on the jury. A huge fanboy moment occurred in Mumbai when I finally met Canadian composer Mychael Danna, who was also on the jury.

A filmmaker friend of mine and I buttonholed him at one of the festival events and he was pleasantly surprised that we were such fans of his work. He spoke about the Indian influences in his score for Atom Egoyan’s Exotica (1994), and of course, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012), for which he won an Oscar. And he confirmed that his music for the opening shots of Deepa Mehta’s Water (2005) was, along with the visuals, indeed an homage to Satyajit Ray and Pandit Ravi Shankar’s Pather Panchali (1955), to the extent of getting Anoushka Shankar to play the sitar.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2022 4:19:55 PM |

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