The 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival today began here with acclaimed Bollywood writer-duo Salim Khan-Javed Akhtar and noted Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai being conferred with 'Excellence in Cinema' award for their outstanding work.
Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar
The eight-day festival, organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI) with Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) and Star India, was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the Gateway of India.
"We want to make Mumbai the entertainment hub. We wish to create state-of-the-art facility at the film city to be at par with global destinations. Not only Indian cinema but world cinema should come here for production," Fadnavis said.
The Chief Minister also assured full support to the festival as the entertainment industry provides employment to nearly four million people.
Salim-Javed were recognised for their contribution to cinema for their iconic films like "Deewaar" and "Sholay" which will be screened at the festival.
Bollywood filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani presented the award to Akhtar and Salim's son, actor Sohail Khan who received the honour on his behalf as the writer was not well.
"It is uncanny but exactly 50 years back, I had met Salim... We did good work because we were not scared, not that we were brave but we didn't know any other way," Akhtar said.
Gitai, known for making documentaries and feature films surrounding the Middle East and Jewish-Arab conflict, was presented with Excellence in Cinema Award - International, by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal.
"Many great filmmakers from this country have inspired me.... Filmmakers should be given the liberty to speak what's their on their mind. I believe everybody who loves his or her country needs to have a voice and this voice should be kept (intact)," Gitai said.
His two films "Disengagement" and "Promised Land" will be screened at the festival.
Bollywood stars like Hrithik Roshan, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Vidya Balan, Kangana Ranaut, Siddharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Ritesh Deshmukh and wife Genelia, Rajkumar Rao, Manoj Bajpayee among others were present on the occasion.
Apart from them, music composer A R Rahman, who has composed the signature tune of the festival, filmmakers like Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Ramesh Sippy, Zoya Akhtar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Gurinder Chadda, Kabir Khan and others graced the event.
Filmmaker Kiran Rao, Chairperson, MAMI, Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation, Co-Chair MAMI and Anupama Chopra, Festival Director, thanked the government and the film fraternity for their support.
Nearly 225 films in feature/ documentary/short film categories will be screened at the festival which concludes on November 5.
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta's "Aligarh", starring ManojBajpayee and Rajkummar Rao, will be the opening film.
The festival's international jury is headed by Academy Award nominated director Ava DuVernay, of "Selma" fame and also includes "Kahaani" actress Vidya Balan.
The international competition category has 15 films including "Mina Walking", "Heavenly Nomadic" and Raam Reddy's directorial debut Kannada language movie "Thithi" which is the only Indian feature to be selected in the category.
India Gold and Dimensions Mumbai are the other competition sections which have 13 and 23 films respectively.
The other highlight of the movie extravaganza will be a section called 'Restored Classics' which will screen movies like Satyajit Ray's "Apur Sansar", "Pather Panchli", M S Sthyu's "Garam Hawa" and Guru Dutt's "Pyaasa" among others.
There will also be a special section called 'Half Ticket' for children, which will have children's films from around the world.
A new addition to the festival is 'Movie Mela', which will feature actors and filmmakers including Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Imtiaz Ali, Dibakar Banerjee among others participating in panel discussions on October 31 at Mehboob Studio.
The festival will also pay a special tribute to the renowned producer/ director Chetan Anand by screening "Heer Ranjha", "Lowly City (Neecha Nagar)" and "Reality (Haqeeqat)".
French romantic-comedy "One Plus One" ('Un plus une'), directed by Claude Lelouch, will bring the curtains down on the festival on November 5.