The good, bad and ugly of Mumbai Film Festival

Mumbai, Oct 26 (IANS) With over 200 films from across the globe and eight days of non-stop cinema viewing, the 15th edition of Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), which ended Thursday, was a rendezvous for hundreds of moviegoers to ideate, debate and dissect films. The fest, which did manage to impress overall, irked a few as well.

The festival, organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), included a mixture of documentaries, handpicked classics, foreign films as well as shorts screened across sixteen categories, including four competition sections.

Since pulling off a festival of this size is no joke as it requires top class co-ordination and execution, MFF had its share of highs and lows.

One of the good moments of the festival was definitely the impressive lineup of the films.

From Palme d'Or winner French romantic-drama "Blue is the Warmest Color" to Academy award nominated French drama "The Past" to the surprisingly good Singaporean drama "Ilo Ilo" and the Punjabi film "Qissa", were screened at the fest.

However, there were few over hyped films as well such as the festival closing film "The Fifth Estate", which was panned by critics as well as audiences.

"It was one of those highly anticipated films that failed to impress despite a great cast. The film presents a one-sided view of the WikiLeaks controversy, and never even attempts to narrate the other side of the story. Therefore, we are forced to believe whatever portrayed is right," Vinod Srivastav, a festival attendee, told IANS.

A majority of the audience were happy with the selection of Indian independent films such as "Katiyabaaz", "Siddharth" and "Liar's Dice".

"The reason I'm extremely happy to have watched some indie films is because they seldom have a theatrical release. Therefore, it's best to not miss them at film festivals. I think the collection of indie films at the fest this year was very good," N. Mahendran, who loved "Katiyabaaz", told IANS.

"Katiyabaaz", which won the best film award in the India Gold 2013 competition section, is a documentary about the power crisis in Kanpur.

While Richie Mehta's "Siddharth" is about the search for a 12-year old boy by his father, "Liar's Dice" starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a road film featuring three key characters.

This year, films at MFF were screened at Cinemax, Versova along with Metro and Liberty cinemas and festival patrons had problems shuttling between the venues because of the distance involved.

"We had to forego some films because they were screened at Cinemax, which is located on the other end of the city. It was extremely difficult to travel between these theatres on the same day because of the distance between them," said Aarti Nihlani, a commerce graduate.

"Since Liberty and Metro were very close to each other, most of us didn't bother going to Cinemax. But ideally all venues should've been within close vicinity so that audiences need not worry about travelling," she added.

Thankfully, most films, if not all, had repeat screenings, and therefore, many didn't mind not going to Cinemax.

Other biggest challenge faced by festival patrons was the ticketing system, which was introduced for the first time at the festival.

The entire process to book tickets was complex, said Rajesh Pillai.

"You could only book ticket for one film at any given point of time. I watched three to four films on all days, and therefore, I had to login so many number of times to book tickets.

"Also, even after you book a ticket for a film, you're directed to another page where you have to confirm booking. It was a time consuming process," said Rajesh, a chartered accountant.

Those who spent time and booked tickets were upset that nobody even asked them to show the booking confirmation SMS.

"Only if there was a long queue for a film, we were asked to show the SMS. Otherwise, anybody with the delegate tag could easily walk into a screening. If they expect us to book tickets for a screening, they should ideally check for the same," added Rajesh.

Regardless of the few shortcomings, film buffs had a gala time at the fest.

"I think the purpose was to come and watch some rare films. I think the films that I managed to watch were far better than the total number of films I had watched outside the fest this year so far. I'm really looking forward to next year," Anand Kumar, a student of Narsee Monjee college, told IANS.

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