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The 11th Mumbai Film Festival begins in Mumbai
The 11th Mumbai Film Festival, organized by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image began in the city with the opening ceremony held at Fun Cinema, Andheri. The festival was inaugurated by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.
THE 11th Mumbai Film Festival, organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) began on October 29, in the city with the opening ceremony held at Fun Cinema, Andheri. It was a night to remember with the who’s who of World and Indian cinema gracing the event with their presence. MFF is a Reliance Big Entertainment initiative and has the distinction of being the only international film festival in India to be organized by an independent body of practicing film professionals. The MAMI committee led by Chairman Shyam Benegal and trustees Yash Chopra,  Amit Khanna, Shabana Azmi, Amol Palekar played host to the evening. Present were jury members and other guests.
The festival was inaugurated by none other than Chief Guest Information and Broadcasting Minister of India Ambika Soni. A visibly impressed Soni said, “I have come to the 11th Mumbai film festival as a student of cinema. The World is smitten by the evolution of the film industry which depicts pluralism and composite culture of India. Indian cinema has made significant contribution to India's growth rate. The film industry’s concerns are the concerns of my ministry.”
Also present at the event was the Chief Minister of the State of Meghalaya, Dr DD Lapang, who was present to portray Meghalaya as possible location for film shoots due to its beautiful locations. Dr. Lapang said, “Mumbai is the entertainment capital of India and the Mumbai Film festival is an excellent platform for film-makers from all over the world to get to know about India and the various opportunities that the country can offer in terms of shooting locations. Parts of Meghalaya would be ideal shooting locations and we welcome film-makers from not only from India but also the world to come and make their films.”
Once the action moved inside the venue, the crowd was pleasantly surprised to see that the emcees for the night were the two whiz kids of Bollywood, Farhan Akhtar and Karan Johar who were at their enthralling best. Farhan invited the Chairman of MAMI, Mr. Shyam Benegal who gave the welcome speech. Mr. Benegal said, “I am extremely happy to see all our guests present here today. With 200 films from 56 countries being part of the festival, I promise everyone the chance to watch some of the best talents the medium has to offer.”
Film-maker Yash Chopra was felicitated by Benoit Ginisty, from the Federation Internationale des Associatons de producteurs de Films (FIAPF) for Outstanding Achievement in Film. This award was conferred upon Mr. Chopra by the FIAPF along with the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in the year 2008 but he wasn’t able to attend due to personal reasons. An elated Mr. Chopra said, “Such appreciation for once work is always a very humbling experience. I am happy that God has given me the strength and the ability to make films for so many years and I will continue to do so till my last breath.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Mr. Shashi Kapoor for his career spanning six decades. Mr. Kapoor said, “I thank the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image and Reliance Big Entertainment for considering my name or this award. These would be some of the most cherished moments of my life.”
The highlight of the night was the screening of ‘The Informant’ directed by Academy-Award Winning Mr. Steven Soderbergh. The Informant’ is a dark political comedy based on true events and the 2000 non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. The film stars Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey and tells the story of Mark Whitacre (Damon), a rising star at a Decatur, Illinois based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990’s whose wife forces him to blow the whistle on the company’s price-fixing tactics.
Films in competition will be viewed on 8 screens at Fun Cinemas (Andheri), Metro BIG Cinemas (Marine Lines) & BIG Cinemas R City (Ghatkopar) and judged by MFF 2009 Jury Members including: renowned Hollywood screenwriter and director Mr. Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, American Gigolo), Iranian filmmaker Mr. Jafar Panahi, Philippine filmmaker Mr. Brillante Mendoza, Indian filmmaker Mr. Shaji N. Karun and former Director of Locarno Film Festival Ms. Irene Bignardi.
This year MFF carries one of the richest cash awards for its International Competition for Directors who are Debuting Feature Films with a cash prize of US$ 100,000 (approx. Rs. 50, 00,000).  Additional awards include the Golden Gateway of India trophy for the Best Film, the Silver Gateway of India trophy and cash prize of USD $50,000 (approx. Rs. 25, 00,000) for the Jury Grand Prize. The best talent from these films will be awarded the Silver Gateway of India trophy and all films in this category are Indian premiers. Lastly, this year MAMI is introducing the Audience Choice Award [Silver Gateway of India trophy and cash prize of USD $20,000 (approx. Rs. 10, 00,000)].  Films from all sections except the retrospective and tributes are eligible.

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