As the physical editions of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival – which was cancelled in 2020, postponed from November 2021 to March 2022 – now stands cancelled again, the selected film-makers across the two India sections (India Gold and Spotlight) have written an Open Letter to the organisers of MAMI. In the meantime, an Online Screening schedule has been announced, which can be accessed here.
It goes thus:
We are a group of filmmakers officially selected in the India Story, Spotlight, and India Gold
sections of the recently cancelled Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2022.
We have come together to send a public appeal to MAMI as well as to all the people of Mumbai –
and supporters elsewhere – who care about independent cinema.
As you may know, the Mumbai Film Festival was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic. The
22nd edition, which would normally have taken place in November 2021, was postponed till 11th to
15th March 2022.
On 4th February, 2022, we received an email from the organisers of the festival saying that it had
become ‘untenable to hold the festival in March,’ citing ‘continuing pandemic, logistical and financial
challenges.’ This news was a great disappointment to us. Some of us were officially selected in the
2020 edition, and had saved our India premieres for two years, waiting for this festival! Others had
turned down multiple other festivals in India in favour of MAMI. Some of us had paid submission fees
to MAMI. Most of us were counting on the festival to give our films visibility and a unique opportunity
to share them with audiences, the industry and market as most of our films will not get distribution in
the way commercial films do. None of us has a plan for how to proceed now.
MAMI offered to have our films included in an Official Selection announcement and to be provided a
two-day screening window in February or March when our films could be viewed digitally across
India. Most of us opted to include our films in the announcement because of MAMI’s prestige and
standing, especially in the Mumbai film industry. The view towards digital screenings was mixed.
Either way, this offer did not adequately address our concerns with the fate of our films, or our
feeling of discontent with the manner and timing of this decision. We collectively requested a
meeting with the organisers to discuss other ways forward, but this request was ignored. We are
extremely disheartened by this.
All we ask is that MAMI hold physical screenings of our films over a shorter period of time. We do
not need extravagant organisation, awards, or ceremonies but only reasonable slots where
audiences across the city can come and watch our films in the theatre. It has already been a
depressing time for filmmakers with so many theatres remaining shut. This would be a great
opportunity to turn things around so that we can share our work with the community in the right spirit.
We want to appeal to Priyanka Chopra, the Chairperson, and other Trustees of MAMI, to step
up to the plate at this crucial moment and help us keep the spirit of the Mumbai Film Festival
– Mumbai’s biggest festival of independent cinema – alive.
We would especially like to appeal to the audiences of MAMI who would be keen to have a
physical screening and may join our endeavour to make it happen!
Achal Mishra (Dhuin, India Gold)
Aditya Vikram Sengupta (Once Upon A Time In Calcutta, India Gold)
Faraz Ali (Shoebox, India Story / Spotlight)
Gurvinder Singh (Adh Chanani Raat, India Gold)
Haobam Paban Kumar (Nine Hills One Valley, India Gold)
Himadri Mahesh (Abharkha, India Story / Spotlight)
Irfana Majumdar (Shankar’s Fairies, India Gold)
Natesh Hegde (Pedro, India Gold)
Nithin Lukose (PAKA, Spotlight)
Payal Kapadia & Ranabir Das (A Night of Knowing Nothing, India Gold)
Prantik Basu (Bela, India Gold)
Rahat Mahajan (Meghdoot, India Gold)
Rahul Jain (Invisible Demons, India Gold)
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (filmmaker)
Srishti Lakhera & Bhamati Sivapalan (Ek Tha Gaon, India Gold / Spotlight)