Imagine setting out on a long journey without a spare tyre in your car. The 15th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), seems to be facing the same level of anxiety on the eve of its opening on Thursday.
“We are glad to have a chief sponsor in Reliance Entertainment, but that’s all we have. While it’s great that they have supported us for so long, ideally it’d be nice to have more sponsors. Knowing you don’t have a back-up can be quite worrying,” says Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) director Srinivasan Narayanan.
Narayanan refers to the situation he’s facing as a “chicken-or-egg” problem. Elaborating, he says, “I can’t pay the media for coverage because I don’t have money, and sponsors aren’t coming forward without coverage.”
Comparing festivals like the ones held in Cannes and Berlin, he points out, “Fifty per cent of their budget comes from the federal government, 25 per cent from the local civic body and only 25 per cent or less is raised through sponsors. All festivals, like IFFI and the Kerala Film Festival, apart from MFF enjoy government support.”
Insisting that MFF has created its own unique identity removed from festivals Berlin, Cannes and Toronto, he says, “We want to be able to put films under a global film festival. We are trying to promote Indian film-makers and films,” he points out, going on to lament about the poor response from Indian media. “Most media in India only look at paid news. As a festival, I don’t have that kind of money to splurge on promotion.”
The film festival promises to to be special a treat for cinema lovers, with over 200 films from 65 countries being screened.
If that weren’t enough, Bruce Beresford, Asghar Farhadi, Leos Carax, Siddiq Barmark, Nathalie Baye, Masato Harada will also be in attendance at the MFF.
Shyam Benegal, who has been associated with MFF right from the beginning, says, “Apart from celebrating Spanish cinema, we’ll have a spotlight on Cambodian and Afghan cinema this year.”
He added that people should look out for the Costa Gravas retrospective and the special tribute to Leos Carax.