“With such a huge presence, I’m amazed the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) is not being called Mumbai French Festival,” joked film-making legend Costa Gavras in an aside.
But like most things of Gavras, even this joke is not without merit. The 15th MFF, organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), is showcasing as many as 29 of the best of contemporary French films. MFF and French cinema go back to six years when the Rendezvous with French Cinema was co-organised with the French Embassy in India, Institut Français en Inde and Unifrance films began.
Gavras was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award during the opening ceremony in the presence of the ambassador of France to India François Richier. Other major French names include Nathalie Baye, jury member of the international section; Mahamat Saleh Haroun, director of the film Grigris, Guillaume Brac, director of the film Tonnerre (Competition), Leos Carax, a well-known filmmaker conducted a master class.
Speaking about the association, consul general of France in Mumbai, Jean-Raphaël Peytregnet, said, “In the 1896, the first-ever film shot by the Lumière Brothers, Louis and Auguste, was shown in Mumbai, and this year India is celebrating the centennial of Indian cinema. I’m very proud that France is represented with 29 films and 15 professionals to carry the legacy of the Lumière Brothers forward.”
The section, ‘Rendez-vous with French cinema’ seeks to establish a platform for showcasing the various facets of French contemporary cinema, helping Indian distributors to promote new French films. The ‘Rendez-Vous with French cinema’ section opened with acclaimed director François Ozon’s film Young and Beautiful. Other films screened in this section include, Abdellatif Kéchiche’s Blue is the warmest color, A Castle in Italy by Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Grigris by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Jealousy by Philippe Garrel, Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants by Thomas Szabo & Hélène Szabo, Miss and The Doctors by Axelle Ropert, Mood Indigo by Michel Gondry, The Nun by Guillaume Nicloux and The Past by Asghar Farhadi.
Festival director Srinivasan Narayanan said, “I am glad that the MFF bestowed the lifetime achievement award to one of the greatest filmmakers ever, Costa Gavras. For me, this is a dream come true. I hope cine-goers enjoy this best of contemporary French cinema.”
General manager, Unifrance, Isabelle Giordano echoed his views. “I’m delighted to see our beautiful cinema crossing boundaries. It also allows our artists, actors, actresses, filmmakers to be known outside France.”