Mumbai International Festival: Top 5 picks that deserve a watch
Documentary and short-film lovers are in for a treat at Mumbai International Film Festival. We pick those on the list that deserve a dekko
The Mumbai International Film Festival is a competitive event that puts the spotlight on documentaries. It's held every two years, but Manish Desai, its director, tells us that the organisers — the Films Division of India — are looking to make it an annual affair. Meanwhile, he adds that this year's edition will open with an Oscar-nominated film, I Am Not Your Negro. "It's about the American civil rights movement, and resonates with current events as well. But it's not part of the competition," he says. We take a look at five films that are, and give you a brief summary of each.
From January 28 to February 3
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The Eyes of Darkness (Amitabh Parashar)
Extra-judicial police action has been a feature of India's socio-political landscape for a long time, but the infamous Bhagalpur blindings of 1980 left a deep psychological impact on Bihar's populace. The incident involved cops pouring acid in the eyes of 33 undertrials and convicts, at a time when the state was experiencing uninhibited lawlessness. Parashar's film explores how that event set a precedent, with acid attacks a regular feature in Bihar even today, except that now more ordinary citizens perpetrate the crime than policemen.
Born Together (Shabnam Ferdousi)
Ferdousi was born on January 14, 1972, less than a month after Bangladesh gained its Independence. Thirteen other babies were born with her on the same day in the same maternity ward. Four of them were "war children" with unclear parentage (one man, for instance, was born after his mother was raped repeatedly by four Punjabi soldiers). This film traces that quartet to find out what their lives are like now, and what concepts of identity and nationhood mean to them.
The Dispossessed (Mathieu Roy)
The economics of agriculture is such that it perpetuates inequalities in the distribution of wealth between the farmer and large-scale corporations. And be it in the case of African countries or India, developing nations continue to remain so despite aid from the West. Why is that so? Who is it that gains from sucking the blood out of arable land? These are some of the questions that this hard-hitting documentary addresses.
Atul (Kamal Swaroop)
Over the years, Atul Dodiya has made a name for himself as one of the doyens of Indian art. And in the same period, Swaroop has garnered fame as one of the country's most conscientious filmmakers. Here, the latter tracks the former's career with his camera, with Dodiya himself playing the role of the narrator, giving the viewer a first-hand view of the artistic insight that makes him a formidable figure in the country's cultural landscape.
Campus Rising (Yousuf Saeed)
There seems to be a certain disquiet spreading across Indian universities, be it in the context of Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid or the Rohit Vemula case. And college politics is such that not only are the youth wings of different political parties at loggerheads with each other, but even the administration at times is in direct conflict with students. Saeed conducts a series of interviews in this film to shed more light on the subject.
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