These are the 16 must-see movies from the international section at Jio MAMI With Star 2018

It’s that time of the year when nothing but cinema will be spoken about. Cinema aficionados will be sprawled out across Mumbai going from one venue to another, watching one film after another. Every year in the run-up to the Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), moviegoers frantically scan the lineup trying to figure out the best way to schedule in all their movies they are looking forward to. It may involve sticking to just one screening venue (considering Mumbai’s traffic woes) or for the daring few, it will involve a lot of crisscrossing of the city.

This year is the 20th edition Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and it starts on October 25th. It’s the most prestigious film festival in India, though some would argue that the title should go to the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Goa in November.

When there are 200+ films playing at a film festival, it can get overwhelming to pick and choose. 2018 has been a really good year for cinema and the MAMI team have gone out of their way to bring some of the very best films for the audiences in Mumbai. It’s a special treat as they celebrate their 20th edition. The cost of all these wonderful movies is just Rs 500 for adults and absolutely free for students.

We’re here to provide you with a snippet into the festival schedule and what you should pick and choose. Today, we will be starting with the international sections of the Mumbai Film Festival.

Some of the films will be big draws just because they have a popular director or actor attached to the film. Some films will have long lines because people couldn’t get into the screening of their choice. Unfortunately, some of the films will be overlooked. This list is for those films that deserve more play than they get.

Before we get started with the 16 films I’m recommending, let’s just run through the films that are sure to be a big draw and guaranteed to have long lines.

Popular movies that will be crowded:

  1. The Ballad of Buster of Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  2. First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  3. Sorry To Bother You (Boots Riley)
  4. Blackkklansman (Spike Lee)
  5. Ash Is the Purest White (Jia Zhangke)
  6. Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton)
  7. Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
  8. The House That Jack Built (Lars Von Trier)
  9. Widows (Steve McQueen)
  10. Wildlife (Paul Dano)
  11. Burning (Lee Chang-dong)
  12. Cold War (Paweł Pawlikowski)
  13. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  14. High Life (Claire Denis)

Now to the meat. The films that I’m recommending as a much watch.

Chance upon any of these movies and you won’t be disappointed:

1. 3 Faces

Country: Iran
Director: Jafar Panahi
Cast: Behnaz Jafari and Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi’s 3 Faces made had its world premiere a the Cannes Film Festival back in May. 3 Faces is Panahi’s ourth film he’s made under illegal circumstances. Panahi is eight years into his 20-year filmmaking ban that was imposed upon him for allegedly making propaganda cinema against his own country’s regime.

3 Faces is a simple story of an Iranian actress who searches for a young girl after seeing a video of the girl asking for help to leave her family. The family will not let her pursue her studies at the Tehran drama conservatory.

2. Las herederas (The Heiresses)

Country: Paraguay
Director: Marcelo Martinessi
Cast: Ana Ivanova, Regina Duarte, Margarita Irun, Alicia Guerra

Las herederas won two awards – Berlinale Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for opening new perspectives and the Silver Bear for Best Actress for Ana Brun – at the Berlin Film Festival.

The winner of two awards in Berlin, this complex relationship drama takes an unusual look at class and privilege through the relationship of a lesbian couple in Paraguay. It’s the first feature from director Marcelo Martinessi and takes a look at the lives of wealthy Paraguayan families through the lens of a lesbian couple.

3. Andið eðlilega (And Breathe Normally)

Country: Iceland
Director: Ísold Uggadóttir
Cast: Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Babetida Sadjo, Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson

Director Ísold Uggadóttir won the best director award at the Sundance Film Festival for Andið eðlilega. It’s an Icelandic film about a struggling single mother who forms an unlikely political asylum seeker. Both are striving to get their lives back on track.

4. Birds of Passage

Country: Columbia
Director: Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra
Cast: Carmina Martínez, Natalia Reyes, José Acosta

Colombia’s foreign-language Oscar entry Birds of Passage is helmed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. Cristina Gallego produced and Ciro Guerra directed the only Colombian film to be nominated at the Oscars.

Birds of Passage is a crime epic. It’s about a close-knit native family who gets caught up in the 1870s international drug trade.

5. Border

Country: Sweden
Director: Ali Abbasi
Cast: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson, Ann Petren, Sten Ljunggren

Border won the Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival. At first glance, Borders looks bizarre. It follows a chain of events when a customs officer, with an extraordinary smell, develops a strange attraction toward the suspect she is investigation. The lens turns on the customs officer whose whole very existence is called into question.

6. Hotel By The River

Counry: South Korea
Hong Sangsoo
Cast: Joo-Bong Ki, Min-hee Kim, Hae-hyo Kwon

Hong Sangsoo may be criticised for making films along similar themes, but in Hotel By The River, the director sure knows how to mix things up.

The story is of an ageing poet who calls his estranged sons to a hotel beside the Han River. The reason being that he feels his death is near. Along the way, he meets two women who have come to do their own healing. The poet moves back-and-forth between sons and the women. Shot in black-and-white and a hand-held camera, Hong Sangsoo’s latest is a much watch, and may just be one of his most moving pictures.

7. In The Aisles

Country: Germany
Director: Thomas Stuber
Cast: Peter Kurth, Franz Rogowski, Sandra Hüller

Another simple story told beautifully. Thomas Stuber directed In The Aisles is a story of a man. Upon getting a new job in a supermarket, he falls in love with his co-worker, who so happens to be married.

8. Madeline’s Madeline

Country: USA
Director: Josephine Decker
Cast: Molly Parker, Miranda July, Helena Howard

“A theatre director’s latest project takes on a life of its own when her young star takes her performance too seriously,” reads the IMDB description for Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline that made its world premiere back at the Sundance Film Festival. The lines between performance and reality begin to quickly blur in this drama.

9. Rafiki

Country: Kenya
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Cast: Nini Wacera, Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva,

Rafiki is a Kenyan drama. The film directed by Wanuri Kahiu is so powerful that it got its home country to temporarily lift a ban so that it could be considered for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s a story about two girls who fall in love. A forbidden romance.

10. Roma

Country: Mexico
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa

Much has been written about Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. Set in 1970s Mexico City, the story is situated around two domestic workers. They help a mother of four while her husband is away. This film is Mexico’s official entry to the Oscar Awards. The film is apparently based upon Cuaron’s own childhood.

11. Three Identical Strangers

Country: USA
Director: Tim Wardle
Cast: Edward Galland, David Kellman, Robert Shafran

The fascinating story of how identical triplets, separated at birth and adopted by three different families, meet for the first time at the age of 19. Their reunion is a global sensation. What unravels next has radical consequences.

12. Thunder Road

Country: USA
Director: Jim Cummings
Cast: Jim Cummings, Kendal Farr, Nican Robinson

Jim Cumming’s comedy-drama film follows a police officer facing a personal meltdown following a divorce and the death of his mother. It is based on the 2016 short film of the same name.

Directed, written and starring Jim Cummings, Thunder Road is a must watch.

13. Shadow

Country: China
Director: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan, Hu Jun

A period film from director Zhang Yimou, Shadow is gorgeous al through the almost two-hour runtime. The film was inspired by yin-and-yang symbol and also the Chinese ink-brush painting.

14. Matangi/Maya/M.I.A

Country: USA
Director: Stephen Loveridge
Cast: M.I.A.

What better than a documentary on the Sri Lankan artist, musician and outspoken activist, M.I.A.?

The film follows 22 years in the rapper’s life, and encompasses it all, from her rise to fame to her political activism.

15. Mandy

Country: USA
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré

It may star Nicolas Cage, but this film isn’t what you expect. It’s an action horror film, directed by Panos Cosmatos. Just read the Rottentomatoes description of the film: “Pacific Northwest. 1983 AD. Outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with fire.”

16. The Wild Pear Tree

Country: Turkey
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cast: Aydin Doğu Demirkol, Murat Cemcir, Bennu Yıldırımlar, Hazar Ergüçlü

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director of Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Winter’s Sleep helms The Wild Pear Tree, Turkey’s official entry to the Oscars.

Here’s the Rottentomatoes description of the film: “For some, the countryside is a place of exile where all hopes ultimately merge with solitude. A boundless place of exile where all hopes and dreams merge with despair like the coinciding destinies of fathers and sons….”

It’s hard not to recommend Ceylan’s films.