Soderbergh's 'The Informant' to open Mumbai film festival

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni will be the chief guest at the inauguration of the week-long festival that will showcase 200 films from 56 countries.

"The Dust of Time" by Greek master Theo Angelopoulos will close the festival on November 5, organisers of the festival Moving Academy of Moving Images (MAMI) said on Wednesday.

MAMI trustees Yash Chopra, Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi and chairman of Reliance Big Entertainment Amit Khanna were present on the occasion. "The Informant", which is based on true events and the 2000 non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Kurt Eichenwald, stars Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey.

It tells the story of Mark Whitacre (Damon), a rising star at Decatur, Illinois based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990s, whose wife forces him to blow the whistle on the company's price fixing tactics.

"The Dust of Time", second part of Angelopoulos' triology that takes place in the former Soviet Union, Austria-Hungarian borders, Italy and New York between 1953 and 1974. The film covers the eve of Stalin's death, Nixon's resignation in the United States and the fall of the Greek Junta, Khanna said.

The budget for the festival is about Rs 6-7 crore, he said, adding that 13 films of first time directors from across the world will compete for the cash awards of USD 150,000. Palekar and Azmi said the cash prize of USD 150,000 for first-time directors makes the Mumbai festival unique.

The prize money will bring young talent from across the world to the fore, Palekar said.
The selections for the award will be made by a jury headed by Hollywood screenwriter director Paul Schrader. According to Azmi, MAMI has urged the Iranian government to release filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has been arrested and whose passport has been confiscated.

"We hope that Jafar who is also one of the jury members and is slated to be in Mumbai for the festival is released at the earliest," she said. Khanna said the festival is introducing the Film Business Centre in order to provide networking platform for Indian distributors, producers, television channels, foreign sales agent and festival directors to enhance the international sales of Indian films.


The Centre will be hosted from October 30 to November 3 at Fun Cinemas in suburban Andheri, which is the central hub of the festival activities, Khanna said. "Major festivals in India including the IFFI don't generate business. This is our first step towards setting up a full fledged market," he said. Khanna said out of 400 entries received for 'Dimensions Mumbai' segment, featuring the theme 'Mumbai-the metropolis', 25 films have been shortlisted.

"Shabana Azmi will judge the films, which will vie for a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh," he said.
MAMI will also honour legendary actors Kamal Hassan and Amitabh Bachchan for completing 50 and 40 years in the film industry respectively by showcasing their films during the festival.

Besides, a screening of 'Hum Dono' will be held for marking the 60th year of Navketan Banner, a tribute to B R Chopra will be paid with the screening of 'Naya Daur' and Lifetime achievement awards will be presented to Angelopoulos and actor Shashi Kapoor.

Yash Chopra will be felicitated by 'FIAPF' (International Federation of Film Producers' Association) during the festival. The Festival films will be shown across eight screens in Fun Cinema's Andheri, Metro BIG Cinemas (Marine Lines) and BIG Cinemas R-City (Ghatkopar).

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