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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 

 

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MIFF returns, with a budget of 4-5 crores; will be organised and held at Films Division

MIFF returns, with a budget of 4-5 crores; will be organised and held at Films Division

Biennial since its inception in 1990, the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) of documentaries, short fiction and animation films, will be held this year from 29 May to 04 June at the Films Division (FD)’s premises on Peddar Road (Gopalrao Deshmukh Marg). A total of 300+ films have been selected by the selection committees and the budget of the entire festival is estimated at Rs. 4-5 crore. It will also have online content, making it a hybrid festival. This was announced by Ravinder Bhakar, the new Director General of Films Division, at a press conference held at the Press Club of Mumbai on 13 May.

This is the 17th edition, and, while various individuals and organisations have been suggesting that the event be made an annual affair, and some ministers in the government have promised as much, that has yet to happen. Two years is a long gap to catch-up on the best in the industry, which make it to other, annual festivals. On this issue, Mr. Bhakar opined, “There are hundreds of film festivals held in India and abroad, and film-makers can easily get exposure there. They need not depend on MIFF alone.”

In the end of March 2022, the Government of India decided to dissolve FD, Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI), Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), National Film Archive of India (NFAI) and a few other units of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and bring their functioning under the purview of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). Mr. Bhakar currently heads all these organisations. MIFF is the first major event to be organised after the ‘merger’, and all eyes will be on how it is conducted.

When this writer asked Mr. Bhakar how does he managed to head so many organisations simultaneously and yet find time to function as Director of MIFF, he did not answer. But he did say that, “MIFF 17, 2022, is being entirely organised by FD, with the support of the NFDC.” One did see a lot of familiar FD faces around, except for one or two, who, I believe, have retired. If they are not retained in service after this event, it could be their swan song. If they are, they would report to NFDC bosses, and, till a successor is appointed, to Mr. Bhakar.

Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be held at the spacious Nehru Centre, Worli, a favourite choice for such occasions over the years. Inauguration will be on the 29th of May and the Closing Ceremony and Awards distribution will be held on the 4th of June. Nehru Centre is less than about 3-4 kms from FD’s premises. FD itself now boasts of four, state-of-the-art auditoria, and the regular screenings will be held at these four halls.

A highlight will be the World Première of Mighty Little Bheem: I love Taj Mahal, a Netfix Greengold episode, to be shown on the 30th of May. Another landmark will be the screening of Sukumar Ray, a classic documentary made by Satyajit Ray in 1987 on his father, and restored by the NFAI. Some 120 films have been short-listed for the competitions, both national and international. MIFF received a staggering 808 entries from 30 countries, and the selection committees must have had a tough time whetting such a large number. A special award has been instituted on the theme, India @75, since India completes 75 years of independence this year.

India’s neighbuor, Bangladesh, has completed 50 years of independence, this being their 51st year. India played a vital role in the liberation of the erstwhile East Pakistan, and Bangladesh has been chosen as the Country of Focus, with 11 films from that country making it to MIFF 2022. They include Hasina: A Daughter’s Tale, about the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina. This writer had occasion to serve as a Jury Member at the Dhaka International Film Festival, January 2022. On the animation front, there are packages from three countries to savour, including Iceland and Mexico.

Retrospectives of Regina Pessoa (Portugal), Aleksandr Petrov (Russia) and Janet Perlman (Canada) are part of MIFF. And as is the norm, there will be workshops and master classes, two of which will be conducted by Oscar winner Resul Pookutty, and Rizwan Ahamd, on the subjects of Aesthetics of Sound in Cinema and Expanded Cinema; From Screens to OTT platforms: Cinema in post-Covid Era.

Registrations have begun, for general delegates (for a small fee), students (free) and media. Earlier, only media students were allowed free access. This time, any student above 18 years of age will be eligible to register himself/herself. For registration and information, you can log on to www.miff.in.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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