Under the open sky, with the iconic Gateway Of India in the backdrop, the 20th Jio Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) Mumbai Film Festival started on Thursday night on an emotional note in solidarity with the #MeTooMovement that aims to create a much inclusive environment at the workplace.
Considering the fact that the #MeTooMovement in India is gaining momentum, calling it a ‘profound collective reckoning’ festival director Anupama Chopra said at the opening ceremony: “We are starting the festival with conflicted emotions, in solidarity with the #MeTooMovement. We decided to exclude certain films from the festival.”
Hosted by actress Kalki Koechlin, the ceremony saw several Bollywood celebrities in attendance including Karan Johar, Anil Kapoor, Zoya Akhtar, Radhika Apte, Soha Ali Khan, Diana Penty, Vishal Bhardwaj, Tabu, along with international filmmaker Sean Baker, Thom Noble, Lucrecia Martel among others.
Being the jury member of the Dimensions Mumbai, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani said: “I think it is a great initiative to have a section where filmmakers under 25 (years old) get a chance to showcase their work on big screen. I still remember when in the film institute we made a film which was shown on the big screen. The joy of watching it on the big screen was stunning. So I am absolutely looking forward to these films.”
The festival honoured the iconic filmmaker Shyam Benegal with the Excellence In Cinema Award.
Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, along with veteran actress Jaya Bachchan, gave away the award to Benegal.
“Shyamji is one of my favourite filmmakers and his films created a deep impact on me, so I am so happy to be here. I think the film industry owes you so much sir,” said Khan.
Benegal who felt very emotional receiving the award said: “This is like my one hand giving the award to another I feel like a very much part of Mami. I was one of the founder members of the festival; and back then, I used to think that people who are part of Mami should give themselves some awards also. Well, I lost, they won, now I won (this award).”
This year, a book has been published that captured the detailed journey of the festival for the last 20 years, authored by Sucheta Chakraborty and Ruklina Bose.
“About 25 years ago, I told Amit Khanna to start a film festival here in Mumbai. Back then he said, it is impossible to happen. However, a few years later when we started the festival, I was so happy to see Amit on board with us,” said Bachchan.
The film festival will continue till November 1.