Focus on making Mumbai film fest public-friendly: Zoya Akhtar

Mumbai, Oct 8 (IANS) Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar, who is the latest member of the board of trustees of the 17th edition of Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, says the focus this year will be on making the fest “vibrant” and “public-friendly”.

Headed by filmmaker Kiran Rao, the festival will take place here between October 29 and November 5.

“One of the common goals we are working towards is making the festival more vibrant and public-friendly. It should make people feel like it’s their festival,” Zoya Akhtar told IANS.

On her appointment as the newest board member, she said she didn’t need to be convinced.

“I really love movies. I don’t think there’s a better reason than this to be part of a film festival. It makes sense to be part of such an initiative that creates the culture to look at cinema beyond stars and box-office numbers,” she said, adding that she still considers herself a passionate patron of the festival, which has an eclectic line-up of over 150 films this year.

“Whenever I’ve been in town during the festival, I’ve made it a point to attend it,” she said.

Contrary to the notion that the film fraternity’s active involvement in the festival may lead to differences, Zoya thinks otherwise.

“The purpose of a group is to have varied opinions about something. No matter whoever you put in a group, there’s bound to be differences. I think that’s what makes everything so interesting,” she said

“I mean, what’s the fun when everybody agrees on the same thing. In that case, one person is all you need to make decisions. Why do you need a group,” she asked.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta’s “Aligarh” will be the opening film of the festival and it’s the second Indian film to get such an honour after Govind Nihalani’s “Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa” in 1997.

Zoya is elated that an Indian film will open the fest.

“It’s great to have an Indian film as the opening feature. I mean, it’s our fest, organized by our people and it’s happening in the country. Why shouldn’t an Indian film open the fest,” she asked.

This year, audiences will get a chance to watch 31 Indian films that have never been shown before in India. Some of the films include “Umrika”, “Chauthi Koot”, “Kothanodi” and “Visaaranai”.

Zoya will team up and filmmakers Imtiaz Ali and Avinash Arun for Young Adult workshop, which is aimed at imparting knowledge on the nuances of direction, editing and production of films for young children.

“It’s going to be so much fun. This is what I like about film festivals. They are not just about watching movies. Agreed, you get to watch films that may never come to India, but you have this platform to exchange knowledge and ideas,” she said.

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