Mumbai International Film Festival Opens

Jane Campion Leads All-Female Jury for $150,000 Prize

MUMBAI -- The 12th Mumbai Film Festival opened Thursday night with a screening of The Social Network.

Organized by industry body Mumbai Academy of Moving Images and supported by Reliance Big Entertainment, MFF will run from October 21-28 and screen 215 films from 58 countries. In addition to honoring veteran Indian filmmaker and actor Manoj Kumar with a lifetime achievement award on the festival's concluding awards night, MFF will present a similar honor to Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone who is also expected to conduct a master class.

Oscar-winning director Jane Campion (The Piano) leads an all-female jury that includes producer and U.K. Film Council head of Film Fund Tanya Seghatchian, award-winning Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf, veteran South Korean actress Yoon Jeong-Hee and Indian actress and filmmaker Suhasini Maniratnam.

MFF will offer a cash prize of $150,000 to the best film in the international section, which has 14 competitors including Indian entry Harud (Autumn) set in Kashmir by first-time director Aamir Bashir.

“I am sure every one of these 14 films – selected from 190 films - has wonderful qualities and I hope they are not going to make it too hard for us to select a winner,” said Campion.

The main venues for the fesival include two cinemas in the upscale Juhu suburb that is home to some of Indian filmdom's biggest stars, including living legend Amitabh Bachchan.

The opening ceremony included a welcome address by MAMI chairman Shyam Benegal, with the event hosted by up-and-coming actresses Minnisha Lamba and Prachi Desai. After an ensemble dance performance by a local group that offered its take on popular dance numbers from both Indian and Hollywood films, the festival kicked off with the opening film, followed by an open-air dinner party at the Sun-n-Sand Hotel on Juhu beach.

MFF's line-up also includes a special focus on Japanese cinema and a wide selection of world cinema.

While not a film market, MFF will promote a business lounge aimed at connecting Indian industry professionals with international players such as Fortissimo Films Sales, France-based MK2, Wild Bunch, Memento Films and Beta Cinema, in addition to Los Angeles-based IM Global, in which Reliance Big Entertainment recently acquired a majority stake.