The excitement was palpable as the Emcee welcomed Srinivasan Narayanan, festival director of the 15th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival presented by Reliance Entertainment and organized by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI). Introducing the 8 day film lovers delight he said, “The Mumbai Film Festival has become an integral part of this city’s culture. For these 8 days, the city breathes cinema. We are pleased that such distinguished personalities have accepted our invitation to partake in the 15th edition and join in celebrating the best of world Cinema”
Applause continued to echo through the auditorium as Shyam Benegal, Chairman, MAMI was invited on stage to address the gathering. It only stopped once the revered Benegal began to speak. “Without taking much time, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our guests. I would also like to thank and Mrs. Ambani for their continued support to the Mumbai Film Festival. ”
Ceremony and tradition have always adorned the Film Festival. Shyam Benegal was joined by MAMI trustees, Amit Khanna, Ambassador France, Spanish Director and the guest of honour, acclaimed actor Sonakshi Sinha as they lit the lamp, kick starting the festival on an auspicious note. However, it was strange that honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan was not invited for the lamp lighting ceremony.
The impressive list of guests continued to be unveiled as the esteemed Jury members of the four competition categories: International Competition, Dimensions Mumbai, Harmony Celebrate Age and India Gold 2013 were introduced. Present at the event were jury members Bruce Beresford, Siddiq Barmark, Deepa Mehta, Waris Hussein, Roger Garcia, Asghar Farhadi, Konkona Sen Sharma amongst others.
The evening moved ahead with the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award, which was bestowed on French auteur Costas Gavras by Benegal and national award winning actor/ director Kamal Haasan by the honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan.Costa Gavras was eloquent as he praised the Film Fest, “I’m happy to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mumbai Film Festival. It is wonderful to see Indian cinema has a large local audience watching the films. I wish the Film Festival the best of luck and hope there are people who attend the various events.”
Kamal Haasan in his soft spoken manner addressed the audience, “There never was a method to my acting. I simply had great teachers, some of whom are present here tonight. I respect them a lot. Festivals have also taught me a lot and I am humbled to have received this honour. I thank the Mumbai Film Festival for promoting talent such as myself.”
Speaking on the occasion and offering the festival his support, honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan said, “The state of Maharashtra supports and will continue to support this festival. I have been a huge fan of Gavras and Kamal Haasan. Mumbaikars are in for a great week ahead and my best of wishes to the 15th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival and happy viewing.”
The other celebrities spotted at the event were Tisca Chopra, Divya Dutta, Konkona Sen Sharma, Divya Dutta, Ramesh Sippy, Vikramaditya Motwane, Nandita Das and many more.
Heralding the upcoming outstanding lineup of films, the opening film The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels, starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and John Cusack, captivated everyone in the audience.
The organizers, MAMI, ensured day 1 was the perfect curtain raiser. With over 200 films from 65 countries, including special tributes to Yash Chopra, Rituparno Ghosh, Pran; master-classes by industry veterans in the coming days, the 15th Mumbai Film Festival promises to be a grand event for all cinema aficionados.