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The 17th Mumbai Film Festival concluded Thursday night with an awards ceremony attended by top Bollywood stars, including actors Salman Khan and Saif Ali Khan. Actress Kalki Koechlin (Margarita With a Straw) hosted the ceremony, which was held at the Taj Land’s End hotel.
Jayro Bustamante’s Ixcanul won the top Golden Gateway award in the international competition section, which honors debut films. In its review, The Hollywood Reporter described the pic, which revolves around a teenage girl in a remote village, as “a solid example of low-key, well-observed, humanistically sympathetic ethnography.” The film’s Maria Telon also picked up a special jury mention in the acting category. Ixcanul was Guatemala’s submission in the foreign-language film category for the 2016 Academy Awards.
The Silver Gateway award went to Kyrgyzstan’s Heavenly Nomadic by Mirlan Abdykalykov. The Indian title Thithi by Raam Reddy took home the jury grand prize, adding to its haul of awards, which include two honors at Locarno.
Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s Taxi won the audience choice award. At the Berlin International Film Festival, Taxi won the Golden Bear. Panahi, who has been banned from making movies by the Iranian government, shot the film in secret. It takes place entirely in a cab, with Panahi himself playing the driver, picking up oddball passengers on the streets of Tehran.
The festival’s India Gold section honoring Indian features saw Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot winning the Golden Gateway award. The pic is set amid the political turbulence in the state of Punjab in the 1980s. Chauthi Koot premiered in May at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section.
Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor won the Silver Gateway for its portrayal of a delicate relationship between a married school teacher in a small village and his teenage female student.
The jury special prize went to Mor Mann Ke Bharam, co-directed by by Karma Takapa, Heer Ganjwala and Abhishek Varma. The film revolves around an author’s struggle between what he wants to write and what others might want to read, which culminates in a surrealist novel.
The fest’s international jury was headed by Selma director Ava DuVernay and included Toronto International Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey and Bollywood actress Vidya Balan, among others.
Organized by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images, the event opened Oct. 29 and screened over 200 films from 58 countries. It was attended by more than 7,000 delegates, which organizers said was its highest turnout ever.
The festival has rebounded this year after a new board took over, with filmmaker Kiran Rao (wife of Bollywood star Aamir Khan) as chair and well-known author and critic Anupama Chopra (wife of top Bollywood filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra) as festival director. The event also inked a new sponsorship deal with telecom company Reliance Jio Infocomm and Fox’s Star India network.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek