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MAMI opens under #MeToo shadow

Actor Aamir Khan with wife, filmmaker Kiran Rao, and (below) filmmaker Shyam Benegal at the opening ceremony of the MAMI film festival on Thursday.

Actor Aamir Khan with wife, filmmaker Kiran Rao, and (below) filmmaker Shyam Benegal at the opening ceremony of the MAMI film festival on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Supreet Sapkal

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Filmmaker Shyam Benegal honoured with Excellence in Cinema - India award

“The profound collective reckoning is here,” festival director Anupama Chopra said, while kicking off the 20th Jio MAMI Film Festival with Star under the looming shadow of the ongoing #MeToo movement. “In solidarity with the movement, we have dropped several films, and we personally apologise for it,” she said.

The annual week-long affair was declared open at the Gateway of India on Thursday evening by Isha Ambani, daughter of the co-chair of the festival, Nita Ambani, who couldn’t be present at the ceremony owing to two upcoming weddings in the family. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was supposed to be the guest of honour this year as well, was unable to attend the event two years in a row.

With 26 feature fiction films, several documentaries and television series in his portfolio, filmmaker Shyam Benegal was honoured with the Excellence in Cinema - India award. “In many ways, it is like one hand giving an award to the another,” said Mr. Benegal, who was among the founding members of the Mumbai Film Festival two decades ago. “I always dreaded this day, because people should not give an award to those who have been a part of the organisation, but they won,” he said, with laughter. Actor Aamir Khan and actor and MP Jaya Bachchan presented the award to Mr. Benegal. “I’ve grown up watching his films and they have had a deep impact on me,” said Mr. Khan, who donned a bright red checked jacket.

MAMI opens under #MeToo shadow

Commemorating two decades of MAMI, the founding members, filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, producers Manmohan Shetty and Amit Khanna, joined Mr. Benegal on stage to launch HarperCollins’ new book, 20 Years of MAMI, In the Life of a Film Festival by Sucheta Chakraborty and Rupleena Bose.

Ms. Bachchan said, “Twenty-five years ago, when I told Amit [Khanna], let’s start a film festival in Mumbai, he said it can’t happen. But a few years later, it did and he was one of the founding members.”

The evening was hosted by actor Kalki Koechlin, who introduced all the jury members across the different competition sections of the festival. American filmmaker Sean Baker, best known for indie films Starlet,Tangerine, and The Florida Project, who is head of the jury of the international competition section this year, said he is looking forward to exploring the metropolis as much as the films.

Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, a critically-acclaimed auteur in Spanish cinema with films like La Ciénaga and Zama to her credit, will be heading the India Gold jury, competition section for Indian feature films. “I would like to congratulate this festival because at least 50% of the films are by women, who have notoriously been denied access,” Ms. Martel said in Spanish, adding to the dialogue on female representation on and off camera.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 11:55:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mami-opens-under-metoo-shadow/article25326248.ece

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