Nearly 200 films from over 50 countries will be screened at the Mumbai film festival in October, kicking off eight days of high quality cinema. These include news films by Martin Scorcese, Noah Baumbach, Pedro Almodovar, Diao Yinan and Robert Eggers, which have already created plenty of buzz and won near universal acclaim at other film festivals around the world.
As was previously announced, the world premiere of Geetu Mohandas’s Malayalam drama, Moothon, starring Nivin Pauly and Sobhita Dhulipala, will open the movie showcase on 17 October. With so many intriguing titles vying for our attention, it is hard to figure out what films to watch out for.
Here, we’ve curated a list based on the type of cinephile you are.
For those looking to watch potential Oscar contenders
The Irishman (dir. Martin Scorsese; starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci)
From the Firspost review: “The Irishman clocks in at nearly three and a half hours, but it earns each and every minute, acting as reflective post-script to a career’s worth of brutal iconography for all involved. The result is a masterwork on par with anything in their respective oeuvres…an emotionally brutal piece from one of our finest filmmakers, as he captures the corrosion of the human soul.”
Marriage Story (dir. Noah Baumbach; starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver)
From the Firspost review: “In his masterful The Squid and the Whale, two young boys come to terms with the acrimonious separation of their parents; in While We’re Young, the nostalgic allure of youth tests a midlife-crisis-ridden marriage; both Margot at the Wedding and The Meyerowitz Stories feature a divorcee (or an about-to-be divorcee) caught in a complex, anguished nexus of familial dysfunction…This makes Baumbach’s latest film, Marriage Story, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, both familiar and new. It’s the story of two New York artists (autobiographical archetypes that Baumbach frequently satirises in his work) undergoing a divorce. But this time, Baumbach steps away from the sidelines and enters the fray.”
The Two Popes (dir. Fernando Meirelles; starring Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins)
What it’s about: The Two Popes is based on the story of Pope Benedict’s 2013 retirement from the papacy, the ascendancy of Pope Francis and the dramatic transition of power.
Honey Boy (dir. Alma Har’el; starring Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe)
From the Firstpost review: “Honey Boy is a PTSD therapy session masquerading as a semi-autobiographical drama as LaBeouf offers a snapshot into the helter skelter ride that was his expedited childhood — and how his toxic relationship with his alcoholic, rodeo clown father had far-reaching consequences in his adulthood.”
For fans of world cinema
Pain and Glory (dir. Pedro Almodovar; starring Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Penélope Cruz, Julieta Serrano)
From the Firstpost review: “In the tradition of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, Fellini’s Amarcord, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Pedro Almodóvar turns back the clock for a fresh cinematic self-interrogation. Pain and Glory is the Spanish auteur’s scrapbook of memories culled from his own life — a fictionalised self-portrait which journeys into the heart, mind and soul of a man mesmerised by movies and weakened by numerous maladies.”
The Souvenir (dir. Joanna Hogg; starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton)
What it’s about: A semi-fictionalised account of a young filmmaker trapped in a toxic relationship with a manipulative heroin addict. The film won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance earlier this year.
It Must Be Heaven (dir. Elia Suleiman; starring Elia Suleiman)
From the Firstpost review: “In It Must Be Heaven, Suleiman questions the notions of home and belonging by employing the universal language of comedy. Thus, the film is neither nation-specific nor culture-specific but acts as a synecdoche to much larger national and cultural problems. And he does this by playing the role of a mute observer, guided by a sense of child-like wonder at the world around him.”
The Wild Goose Lake (dir. Diao Yinan; starring Hu Ge, Liao Fan)
From the Firstpost review: “A slender girl in a pixie cut and a handsome man with a slash wound on his face meet under a decrepit train station on a rainy night in director Diao Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake. Yinan’s Cannes competition entry is a tautly written and executed, gritty Chinese noir woven into a breathlessly fast-paced narrative.
For the genre fan
The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers; starring Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe)
From the Firstpost review: “The primal violence that often binds men has rarely been evoked as intensely as Dafoe and Pattinson’s showcase in The Lighthouse. Their pairing provides a recipe for one unforgettable moment after another as they drink, dance and dispute over everything, from supper to superstitions…This is an original work in an antique mood and the two leads enhance the authentic flavour and texture of Eggers’ period-specific vernacular.”
Midsommar (dir. Ari Aster; starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor)
What it’s about: Ari Aster’s much anticipated follow-up to Hereditary is an atmospheric folk horror film with The Wicker Man vibes.
Ad Astra (dir. James Gray; starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga)
What it’s about: A space drama which has drawn comparisons to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (if set in outer space).
Deerskin (dir. Quentin Dupieux; starring Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel)
From the Firstpost review: “Deerskin, the latest entry in the Dupieuxverse, is an oddly engrossing, off-kilter comedy about a man who develops an all-too-unhealthy fetish for his fringed suede jacket…(it) functions as a character study of a man’s downward spiral into insanity, fuelled by loneliness. But there’s an additional dimension to it as always: an absurdist riff on Hollywood’s toxic narratives of masculinity and machismo.”
Zombi Child (dir. Bertrand Bonello; starring Louise Labeque, Wislanda Louimat, Katiana Milfort)
What it’s about: The Nocturama filmmaker adds adolescent angst to a folk horror tale. It was screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes 2019.
For fans of Indian indies
Bombay Rose (dir. Gitanjali Rao)
What it’s about: Set on the streets of Mumbai, Bombay Rose is the story of a flower seller who has to make the choice between protecting her family or allowing herself to fall in love. Painted frame by frame, Bombay Rose is a chronicle of the people who migrate from small towns, seeking minimal life in the maximum city.
Gamak Ghar (dir. Achal Mishra)
What it’s about: In a north Indian village, a family reunites at their ancestral home to celebrate a new birth in the family. It’s a joyous, carefree occasion. Over the next two decades, through festivals and feasts, births and deaths, the film observes one house as it ages and falls to neglect.
About Love (dir. Archana Phadke)
What it’s about: A filmmaker turns the camera towards three generations of her family inside their ancestral home – the 102-year-old Phadke Building in downtown Mumbai. Mining their daily routines and rituals, About Love deconstructs the dynamics of one eccentric household, studies its gender dynamics and brings unexpected revelations for a daughter rediscovering her family from behind the lens.
The 21st Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival runs from 17-24 October. You can register to attend the festival here.