Thursday marked the end of the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (see our daily reports here). The event wound down with a closing speech by guest of honour Salman Khan, followed by the awards ceremony. Several celebrities attended the closing ceremony, including Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Nandita Das, Esha Gupta, Radhika Apte and Vidya Balan.
Here’s a list of the Festival winners, along with award categories:
(India) Golden Gateway Award: Chauthi Koot, by Gurvinder Singh
Chauthi Koot is a Punjabi film based on Waryam Singh Sandhu’s 2005 short story collection of the same name. Set during the 1980s Sikh separatist movement, the film captures the dilemmas and fears of everyday people, caught between the Indian Army and Sikh separatists. Chauthi Koot was screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
(India) Silver Gateway Award: Haraamkhor, by Shlok Sharma
Shlok Sharma’s debut film Haraamkhor is set in rural North India, and takes on the daunting task of telling a tale of “taboo” love, between an underage student and an older, married schoolteacher. The film uses the device of child narrators (two 11-year olds) to unfold a complex story. Shot in only 16 days, the director had to make do with only two takes at most, leading to a raw feel that the director prefers to more “practiced” performances. The film was previously screened at the New York Indian Film Festival and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
(India) Jury Special Prize: Mor Mann Ke Bharam, by Karma Takapa, Heer Ganjwala, and Abhishek Verma
A feature film from Chhattisgarh, the entire film was shot in Raigarh town, and is a collaboration between local theatre groups and recent Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) graduates. The story focuses on an author negotiating the compulsions of what others want him to write against what he wants to write, culminating in the creation of a surreal novel. Mor Mann Ke Bharam is the first film on the big screen to feature four folk songs in their original form, along with local cultural mofits from Chhattisgarhi life.
(International) Golden Gateway: Volcano, by Jayro Bustamante
Guatemalan director Bustamante’s debut film Volcano tells the story of a 17-year-old Mayan coffee plantation worker (Maria) and her family who live near a rumbling volcano, and their struggle to survive in a community that has been pitted against a rapidly changing modern world. Jayro Bustamante found it hard to get Mayan actors from the region, despite setting up a ‘Casting’ office in the area. However, when he changed the title to ‘Job Opportunity’, a long queue had formed. Variety‘s Scott Foundas called the Volcano “a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature” and “downright Herzogian (far more Herzogian than Herzog’s own ‘Queen of the Desert’)”.
(International) Silver Gateway: Heavenly Nomadic, by Mirlan Abdykalykov
Heavenly Nomadic is Kyrgyz’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It’s also Mirlan Abdykalykov’s debut film, and depicts three generations of a family of nomads living in a remote location, and is suffused with a sense of ‘paradise lost’ as the traditional lifestyle seems to be quickly disappearing. The surroundings of the Turgen gorge near Lake Issyk-Kul are harsh, but beautiful. The film is based on a screenplay by Aktan Arym Kubat, MIrlan Abdykalykov’s father and Kyrgyzstan’s best-known auteur.
(International) Jury Grand Prize: Ram Reddy for Thithi
Ram Reddy’s Kannada film Thithi had already won two awards at the Locarno International Film Festival in the ‘Filmmakers of the Present’ category. A comedy co-written with Eregowda, Thithi uses mostly amateur actors to portray three generations of a family in rural Karnataka who come together to organise the cremation rites, when the 101-year old grandfather and patriarch of the family dies. Reddy’s former work includes the short film Ika, and a novel It’s Raining In Maya.
(International) Achievement in Acting: Farzana Nawabi of Mina Walking for ‘Mina’
Yosef Baraki’s Mina Walking revolves around 12-year old Mina, a street-seller who has to negotiate her education with her role as her family’s breadwinner. Shot in Kabul, Afghanistan, the director often placed Farzana Nawadi in real life everyday situations, and disclosing only parts of the script to the actress every day. The director said he would often hide the camera and shoot her secretly, because shooting in Kabul would lead to security issues. Mina Walking was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival.
(International) Achievement in Acting:Maria Telon of Volcano for ‘Mother Juana’
Maria Mercedes Coroy as the 17-year old Maria is the protagonist of Volcano. But it’s Maria Telon’s portrayal of the girl’s mother, Juana, which has been credited with really “holding the film together”. Most especially, for creating feelings of absolute devastation in the audience, without ever sinking into melodrama and pathos.