Mumbai Film Festival Unveils International Competition Section (Exclusive)

Atlantics - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

The lineup of 13 films, which include eight by female filmmakers, feature such festival favorites as 'You Will Die At Twenty', 'Judy and Punch', Australia's 2020 Oscar entry 'Buoyancy' and Netflix's Cannes acquisition 'Atlantics,' among others.

A selection of 13 films, eight of them by women filmmakers, form the lineup of the international competition section of the 21st Mumbai Film Festival.

The section awards films by debutante directors who will contest for the festival's Golden Gateway Award for best film, which includes a cash prize of $35,700 (2.5 million rupees), the Silver Gateway Award for second best film, which includes a prize of cash prize of $21,400 (1.5 million rupees) and the Special Jury Award, which includes a cash prize of $7,142 (500,000 rupees).

Past winners have included Sweden's 2017 Oscar entry 1993, Cambodian coming-of-age film Diamond Island, Thai cinematographer-turned-director Phuttiphong Aroonpheng's Rohingya refugee crisis drama Manta Ray and Indian director Chaitanya Tamhane's 2014 legal drama Court, which became the first time an Indian film won in this section.

The 13 films in the international competition section are:

1. A Son, directed by Mehdi M. Barsaoui. A holiday ends in disaster for a family when their 10-year-old son is accidentally shot in an ambush. The film won the Orizzonti Award for best actor for Sami Bouajila at Venice.

2. Atlantics, directed by Mati Diop. Young star-crossed lovers battle the odds in this film set in Dakar, Senegal. The film was acquired by Netflix at Cannes where it won the Grand Prix Award followed by its festival run at Toronto, London, New York and San Sebastián. Atlantics is also Senegal's Oscar entry in the international feature category.

3. Babyteeth, directed by Shannon Murphy. When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with small-time drug dealer Moses, it’s her parents’ worst nightmare. But as Milla's first brush with love brings her a new lust for life, things get messy. The film's festival play includes Venice and London.

4. Buoyancy, directed by Rodd Rathjen. Australia's 2020 Oscar entry revolves around Chakra, a 14-year-old Cambodian boy who secretly leaves home in search of a better life, but is sold to a Thai broker and enslaved on a fishing trawler. As fellow slaves are tortured and murdered around him, he decides his only hope of freedom is to become as violent as his captors. The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Panorama at Berlin and also played at Melbourne.

5. Die Kinder der Toten, directed by Kelly Copper and Pavol Liška. Adapted from Nobel Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek's 1995 novel Die Kinder der Toten, the film revolves around doppelgängers, a Nazi widow, a suicidal forester, a family of Syrian poets and the undead in Austria's Steiermark region. The film won the FIPRESCI Prize, Forum, at Berlin.

6. Honeyland, directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. A 50-something woman's quiet life in rural Macedonia is disrupted when an itinerant family installs next door. The film won the World Cinema Documentary grand jury prize at Sundance while its festival run included Moscow, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Shanghai.

7. Judy and Punch, directed by Mirrah Foulkes. A mid-17th century town called Seaside is ruined by poverty, neglect, violence and mob rule. Only one glimmer of artistry remains: Punch and Judy’s marionette puppet theatre. The film's festival run includes Sundance, London, Melbourne, Munich, Sydney, Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival and the Deauville American Film Festival.

8. Land of Ashes, directed by Sofi?a Quirós Ubeda. After the sudden disappearance of her only motherly figure, Selva, 13, who lives in a Caribbean coastal town, is the only one left to take care of her grandfather, who doesn’t want to live anymore. The film's festival run includes Cannes, Munich and Melbourne.

9. Sole, directed by Carlo Sironi. Set in Italy, a troubled young man forms a shaky romantic bond with an expectant surrogate mother from Poland. The film premiered at Venice and traveled to Toronto and Busan.

10. Song Without a Name, directed by Melina León. A stranger-than-fiction tale of stolen babies in 1980s Peru, the film is a Kafka-esque crime thriller inspired by real events. The film played at Cannes and won the CineVision Award at Munich.

11. System Crasher, directed by Nora Fingscheidt. The psychological drama revolves around a violent, unwanted 9-year-old girl whom child protection services describe as a "system crasher."
The film won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer prize at Berlin and played at Cannes and Taipei.

12. Talking About Trees, directed by Suhaib Gasmelbari. The documentary chronicles the demise of Sudanese cinema and the group of retired directors hoping to revive their country’s love of film.
The film won the Glashütte Original, Documentary Award and Panorama Audience Award at Berlin.

13. You Will Die at Twenty, directed by Amjad Abu Alala. In the Aljazira province of Sudan, when Muzamil is born, the holy man of the village predicts that he will die when he is 20 years old.
The film won the Lion of the Future, Luigi De Laurentiis award at Venice and traveled to Toronto  and Busan.

As reported earlier, the international competition jury is headed by acclaimed filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, whose credits include Academy Award-nominated films Paradise Now and Omar.
Fellow jurors include Indian director Zoya Akhtar, whose film Gully Boy is India's Oscar entry this year; South Indian director Vetri Maaran, whose credits include India's 2016 Oscar entry Visaaranai; Telluride Film Festival executive director Julie Huntsinger; and Edinburgh International Film Festival artistic director Mark Adams.

Organized by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images and presented by telecom major Reliance Jio in association with Disney-owned Star India network, the Mumbai Film Festival runs Oct. 17-24.