25 Must-See Films at the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, 2018

Fueled by every possible genre of cinematic independence, the Mumbai Film Festival is here again. It is that time of the year when every single cinema lover like us gets mad at their respective bosses to attend this grand event in Mumbai. A place where people not only see films but celebrate films. They wait in queues and gossip about their love for films. A place which is more home that you make it out to be. Like a yearly ritual, we wait for this week of cinematic wonders and ever enlightening storms. And while every single one of us believes in watching as many films as possible, time binds us to a bare minimum.

Here are 25 films that should not be missed at 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star:

25. Birds of Passage

Director: Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra
Country: Colombia, Denmark, Mexico, France | Language: Spanish, English, Wayunikee | Runtime: 125 Mins.
Cast: Natalia Reyes, Carmiña Martínez, José Acosta

In the 70s, as the American youth embraces hippie culture, a marijuana bonanza hits Colombia, quickly turning farmers into seasoned businessmen. In the Guajira desert, a Wayuu indigenous family takes a leading role in this new venture and discovers the perks of wealth and power. But when greed, passion, and honour blend together, a fratricidal war breaks out and puts their family, their lives, and their ancestral traditions at stake. Ciro Guerra, born in Rio de oro, has directed such films as Alma (2000), Wandering Shadows (2004), and Embrace of The Serpent (2015).

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Also by Cira Guerra: Embrace Of The Serpent [2015] Review: Wildness Personified

24. The Image Book

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Country: Switzerland, France| Language: Arabic, English, French, Italian | Runtime: 85 Mins.
Cast: Jean-Luc Godard, Dimitri Basil, Buster Keaton

With characteristic disregard for the conventional rules of filmmaking, Jean-Luc Godard’s latest cine-essay is a distinctive discourse on life, art, war, and cinema itself.

23. Transit

Director: Christian Petzold
Country: Germany, France | Language: German, French  | Runtime: 101 Mins.
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese

When a man flees France after the Nazi invasion, he assumes the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband — the very man he’s impersonating. Christian Petzold won the Silver Bear for best director for his film Barbara (2012).

Also by Christian Petzold: Phoenix [2015] Review: Mired Love

22. Too Late to Die Young

Director: Dominga Sotomayor
Country: Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands, Qatar| Language: Spanish | Runtime: 110 Mins.

Cast: Demian Hernández, Antar Machado, Magdalena Tótoro

Democracy comes back to Chile during the summer of 1990. In an isolated community, Sofia (16), Lucas (16) and Clara (10), face their first loves and fears, while preparing for New Year’s Eve. They may live far from the dangers of the city, but not from those of nature.

21. Grass

Director: Hong Sang-Soo
Country: South Korea | Language: Korean | Runtime: 66 Mins.
Cast: Min-hee Kim, Joobong Kee

Down an alley where one wouldn’t expect to find such a place, there is a coffeehouse where people sit here and there talking among themselves. One woman observes the others and writes down her thoughts. Even as the night grows late, they all remain in the coffeehouse. Renowned for his unique cinematographic language and unprecedented aesthetics in filmmaking, Hong Sang-soo is considered one of the most established auteurs in contemporary Korean cinema.

Also by Hong Sang-Soo: Hotel By The River [2018]: ‘TIFF’ Review – A Surprisingly Endearing Heartbreaker!

20. Season of the Devil

Director: Lav Diaz
Country: Philippines | Language: Tagalog | Runtime: 234 Mins.
Cast: Piolo Pascual, Shaina Magdayao, Bituin Escalante

In the late 70s, a gang of militias, under the control of the military, terrorizes a remote village in the Philippines. The poet-teacher-activist Hugo Haniway decides to find out the truth about the disappearance of his wife. A love story and an unconventional music set in the darkest period of Philippine history, the Marcos Dictatorship, Season of the Devil is based on real events and real characters.

19. Wildlife

Director: Paul Dano
Country: USA | Language: English | Runtime: 104 Mins.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Bill Camp

14-year-old Joe is the only child of Jeanette and Jerry — a housewife and a golf pro — in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job — and his sense of purpose — he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe witnesses his mother’s struggle as she tries to keep her head above water. Paul Dono’s many acting credits include Looper (2012), Prisoners(2013), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Youth (2015), and Okja (2017). Wildlife (2018) is his feature directorial debut.

Must-Read: MAMI 2018: The 12 Debut Films Competing Under the ‘International Competition’ Section

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

18. Leave No Trace

Director: Debra Granik
Country: USA | Language: English | Runtime: 109 Mins.
Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Jeffery Rifflard

For years, a teenage girl and her veteran father have lived undetected in Forest Park, a vast woods on the edge of Portland, Oregon. When a careless mistake catches the attention of the authorities, the pair is removed from the park, forcing them to confront their conflicting desire to be part of a community and their fierce need for independence. Debra Granik is a director and screenwriter whose 2010 film, Winter’s Bone, starred Jennifer Lawrence and was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.

Recommended – Leave No Trace [2018] Review: A Subtly Powerful Tale Of Life on the Fringes 

17. The Man Who Feels No Pain

Director: Vasan Bala
Country: India | Language: Hindi| Runtime: 134 Mins.
Cast: Abhimanyu Dasani, Gulshan Devaiah, Radhika Madan

Surya is born with a strange condition under tragic circumstances. He is diagnosed with a rare medical disorder called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain and is tended to by the odd-couple combination of his father and his mischievous grandfather Ajoba. Vasan Bala, an Indian screenwriter and filmmaker. His debut film Peddlers (2012) was screened at the 51st Semaine de la Critique and also played at TIFF’ 12. He has worked as a screenwriter on Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet and Raman Raghav 2.0. He is also an award-winning advertising filmmaker and Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (The Man Who Feels No Pain) is his second feature film.

Also by Vasan Bala – Peddlers [2015]: ‘MAMI’ Review

16. Burning

Director: Lee Chang-Dong
Country: South Korea | Language: Korean | Runtime: 148 Mins.
Cast: Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jeon

Deliveryman Jongsu is out on a job when he runs into Haemi, a girl who once lived in his neighbourhood. She asks him if he’d mind looking after her cat while she’s away on a trip to Africa. On her return she introduces Jongsu to Ben, an enigmatic young man she met during the trip. And one day Ben tells Jongsu about his most unusual hobby.

Related: Burning [2018]: ‘NYFF’ Review

15. Ash is Purest White

Director: Jia Zhangke
Country: China, France | Language: Mandarin  | Runtime: 136 Mins.
Cast: Tao Zhao, Fan Liao, Yi’nan Diao

Qiao lives in a town descending into economic decline. Her boyfriend, a dashing gangster, works for a corrupt property developer. During a fight between rival gangs, she fires a gun to protect him and goes in jail for five years. She emerges from prison to find that her former mafia associates have moved into legitimate business, and Bin has found another moll. Qiao seeks revenge but, more importantly, she searches for a new identity in this changing China. Jia Zhangke’s film Still Life (2006) won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and his A Touch of Sin (2013) won the Best Screenwriter Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

14. High Life

Director: Claire Denis
Country: Germany, France, USA, UK, Poland | Language: English | runtime: 110 Mins.
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin 

Deep space. Beyond our solar system. Monte and his infant daughter Willow live together aboard a spacecraft, in complete isolation. A solitary man, whose strict self- discipline is a protection against desire – his own and that of others – Monte fathered the girl against his will. Once the member of a crew of prisoners, Monte was a guineapig sent on a mission to the black hole closest to Earth. Now only he and his daughter remain. But Monte’s changed. Through his daughter, for the first time, he experiences the birth of an all-powerful love.

13. Blackkklansman

Director: Spike Lee
Country: USA | Language: English | Runtime: 135 Mins.
Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier

It’s the early 1970s, a time of great social upheaval as the struggle for civil rights rages on. Ron Stallworth becomes the first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, but his arrival is greeted with skepticism and open hostility by the department’s rank and file. Undaunted, Stallworth resolves to make a name for himself and a difference in his community. He bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. BlacKkKlansman won the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes this year.

Also, Read – A Spike Lee Joint: BlacKkKlansman 

12. Non-Fiction

Director: Olivier Assayas
Country: France | Language: French | Runtime: 106 Mins.
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Juliette Binoche, Vincent Macaigne

Alain, a successful Parisian publisher struggling to adapt to the digital revolution, has major doubts about the new manuscript of Léonard, one of his long-time authors – another work of auto-fiction recycling his love affair with a minor celebrity. Selena, Alain’s wife, a famous stage actress, is of the opposite opinion. Olivier Assayas has been nominated for the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, four times.

Also by Olivier Assayas – Personal Shopper [2016] Review: An Imaginative Examination Of Grief and Personal Identity

11. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Director: Joel Coen And Ethan Coen
Country: USA | Language: English | Runtime: 132 Mins.

Cast: James Franco, Liam Neeson, David Krumholtz

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a six-part Western anthology film, a series of tales about the American frontier told through the unique and incomparable voice of Joel and Ethan Coen. Each chapter tells a distinct story about the American West. Ethan and Joel Coen have been making movies for 35 years. They have won the Academy Award four times, for Best Picture, Director, Original and Adapted Screenplay.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Also by Coen Brothers – Inside Llewyn Davis [2013] Review: Wings Of Folk Singer’s Desire.

10. Widows

Director: Steve McQueen
Country: USA, UK | Language: English | Runtime: 128 Mins.
Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki

In debt because of their dead husbands’ criminal activities, four women take fate into their own hands and conspire to build a future on their own terms. Steven McQueen is a British film director, producer, screenwriter, and video artist. For his 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave, he won an Academy Award, BAFTA Award for Best First Film For Hunger, and the award for Best Director from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Also by Steven McQueen – Shame [2011] Review: A Chilling Implosion Of Desensitized Individual

9. House That Jack Built

Director: Lars Von Trier
Country: Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany| Language: English | Runtime: 155 Mins.
Cast: att Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman

The USA in the 1970s. We follow the highly intelligent Jack through five incidents and are introduced to the murders that define Jack’s development as a serial killer. He views each murder as an artwork in itself, even though his dysfunction gives him problems in the outside world.

Also by Lars von Trier – Melancholia [2011] Review: Alien on Earth

8. An Elephant Sitting Still

Director: Hu Bo
Country: China | Language: Mandarin | Runtime: 234 Mins.
Cast: Yu Zhang, Yuchang Peng, Uvin Wang

The story links together the lives of a number of protagonists, narrating the course of one single, tension-filled day from dawn to dusk, and along the way, painting a portrait of a society marked by selfishness. HU Bo was a Chinese novelist and director. He graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2014 with a B.F.A. in direction. He wrote two novels – Huge Crack and Bullfrog, both published in 2017. He committed suicide after finishing An Elephant Sitting Still.

Related – An Elephant Sitting Still [2018]: TIFF Review

7. In Fabric

Director: Peter Strickland
Country: UK | Language: English | Runtime: 118 Mins.
Cast: Gwendoline Christie, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Caroline Catz

In Fabric is set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store and follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences. Peter Strickland has written and directed critically acclaimed films like Katalin Varga (2009), Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and The Duke of Burgundy (2014).

Also by Peter Strickland – Berberian Sound Studio [2012] Sound of Paranoia

6. Long Day’s Journey into Night

Director: Bi Gan
Country: China, France, Taiwan | Language: Guizhou Dialect | Runtime: 140 Mins.
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yongzhong Chen, Jue Huang

Luo Hongwu returns to Kaili, his hometown, from where he fled several years ago. He begins the search for the woman he loved, and whom he has never been able to forget. She said her name was Wan Quiwen. Writer-director Bi Gan’s critically acclaimed debut feature, Kaili Blues, won the Best Emerging Director Award at the 68th Locarno International Film Festival. His second feature, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, made its premiere in Un Certain Regard at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.

Also by Bi Gan – Kaili Blues (2016): A Poetic Journey in a Time Warp

5. Climax

Director: Gaspar Noé
Country: France | Language: French | Runtime: 96 Mins.
Cast:  Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub

From director Gaspar Noé comes a hypnotic, hallucinatory, and ultimately hair-raising depiction of a party that descends into delirium over the course of one wintry night. In Climax, a troupe of young dancers gathers in a remote and empty school building to rehearse. Following an unforgettable opening performance, lit by cinematographer Benoît Debie and shot by Noé himself, the troupe begins an all-night celebration that turns nightmarish as the dancers discover they’ve been pounding cups of sangrialaced with potent LSD. Tracking their journey from jubilation to chaos to full-fledged anarchy, Noé observes crushes, rivalries, and violence amid a collective psychedelic meltdown.

4. Cold War

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Country: Poland, France, UK| Language: Polish, Frensh| Runtime: 90 Mins.
Cast: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc

Cold War is a passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatally mismatched and yet fatefully condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris, the film — informed by an eclectic soundtrack — depicts an impossible love story in impossible times.

3. The Wild Pear Tree

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Country: Turkey, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Sweden, The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Bosnia, Herzegovina | Language: Turkish | Runtime: 188 Mins.
Cast: Dogu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Bennu Yildirimlar

Sinan is passionate about literature and has always wanted to be a writer. Returning to the village where he was born, he pours his heart and soul into scraping together the money he needs to be published, but his father’s debts catch up with him. Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a Turkish filmmaker. Debuting in 1998 with the feature Small Town, his films have won numerous awards at different prestigious film festivals of the world, including the Fipresci Prize, Best Director, and Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Also by Nuri Bilge Ceylan – Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (2011): A Criminal Fairy Tale

2. Shoplifters

Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Country: Japan | Language: Japanese| Runtime: 121 Mins.
Cast: Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, Sôsuke Ikematsu

A Japanese couple stuck with part-time jobs and inadequate incomes avail themselves of the fruits of shoplifting to make ends meet. They are not alone in this behaviour. The young and the old of the household are in on the act. This unusual routine is about to change from carefree and matter-of-fact to something more dramatic, as the couple opens their doors to a beleaguered teenager. The reasons for the family and friends’ habit and motivations, as a result, come under the microscope.

Also by Hirokazu Kore-edaAfter The Storm [2016]: ‘MAMI’ Review

1. Roma

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Country: Mexico | Language: Spanish, Mixtec| Runtime: 135 Mins.
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey

Roma chronicles a turbulent year in the lives of a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City. A vivid portrayal of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil, ROMA follows a young domestic worker Cleo from Mixteco heritage descent and her co-worker Adela, also Mixteca, who work for a small family in the middle-class neighbourhood of Roma.

Must-Read:  Every Alfonso Cuaron Film Ranked

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