Mumbai International Film Festival 2020 sets off with a colourful opening ceremony

The oldest international event for non-feature films in South Asia, the Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short Fiction & Animation Films, got off to a colourful start in Mumbai today. The much-awaited 16th edition of the biennial festival has been inaugurated at a momentous opening ceremony, at Nehru Centre Auditorium, Mumbai.

Dr. V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award conferred on Dr. S. Krishnaswamy

At the opening ceremony, the coveted Dr. V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award has been declared and conferred on Dr. S. Krishnaswamy, one of India’s most senior and active filmmakers, “for his lifelong, invaluable contribution to non-fiction filmmaking”. The prestigious award is presented in every edition of MIFF, to a filmmaker for seminal contribution to documentary films and its movement in India. It carries a cash award of 10 lakh rupees, trophy and a citation. The Chief Guest for the opening ceremony, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Babul Supriyo and the Guest of Honour, Minister for Cultural Affairs & Medical Education, Government of Maharashtra, Shri Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh presented the award to Dr. Krishnaswamy. Noted filmmaker Shri Kiran Shantaram was also present on the occasion.

Receiving the award, the lifetime achievement awardee said:” It is very difficult for the voice to come up when you are on cloud nine. It is a great privilege to receive this award from the documentary film making fraternity and from Films Division. It is a great pleasure also to receive this award from Union Minister Shri Supriyo and the State Minister Shri Deshmukh. I am speaking from my heart. I made a four-hour film on Indian history, after working on it for almost fifteen years, with no financial backing. It traces the history of India from more than 5,000 years ago to 1976, I titled the film as From Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi I could not find anyone to distribute the film, until Warner Brothers came to my rescue, transforming it from complete failure to complete success. I have never accepted to make a single film in which I did not believe. Over time, I have developed a philosophy where one remembers what one plans and wants to achieve. It is a privilege to have V. Shantaram’s son with us to represent the great tradition and bestow me with this honour.”

He further reminisced: When my film From Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi was released in 1976, I was attending the world premiere of my film. At the end of that show, I got a message that the Indian Parliament was discussing my film that day for forty minutes. I sent a message to the then I&B Minister Shri L. K. Advani, expressing my gratitude for the discussion on the film, but also saying that it would have been more beneficial for the parliamentarians to watch some portion of my film. A leader of stature, Shri Advani organized a show for himself and for some of his colleagues. Later, he told me that I have done a great film.” Shri Krishnaswamy expressed his gratitude to Films Division, the Government of India and to the film industry for the award.

Check out the full citation of the award here.

Addressing the gathering of dignitaries, diplomats, filmmakers and film personalities from India and abroad, jury and selection committee members, senior officials, media students, journalists and film lovers, the Chief Guest and Union Minister Shri Babul Supriyo said: “We have great enlightened minds gathered here, who are doing to make great documentary films in the coming years.” The Minister congratulated film makers and said: “When you make documentaries and short films, you talk about the rich cinematic history, which is a form of fixed deposit. It is also about the rich history which interests and inspires generations to come. I congratulate the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for organizing the festival, and showcasing the diverse talent and their work. I assure you that the Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is very unbiased and open-hearted in respecting and honouring talent and enriching this form of art.”

The Minister stated that it is only if one believes in oneself and the idea that one can succeed in the film industry. “I am very proud that iconic films of legendary filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray are presented at this edition of MIFF. I wish I could come back again to watch Rabindranath Tagore and Pikoo. I am also excited to know about some of the many highlights of this edition which includes a special package of films from European Union, Animation package from Russia, Finland and Balkan. Oscar nominated films such as Fauve, Detainment and Night at the Garden would also be screened while Ireland will showcase its best documentaries in the Country Focus section.”

The Minister further said:

“It was in 1948 that the pre-independence ‘Information Films of India’ gave way to transform itself into what we know today as ‘Films Division’. What is remarkable about Films Division is its contribution to the documentary culture in the country as it has always strived to promote and nurture the documentary film, which is one of the most important mediums of audio-visual storytelling. One of the avenues through which it has cemented its position as an influential force in the world of documentary is through MIFF.

The number of films being screened at MIFF has only increased and more and more young documentary film makers are looking at MIFF as a platform for exposure and engagement with documentary practices from around the world. It is the documentary film that sheds light on the socio-cultural structures and dynamics of different societies like no other. Young filmmakers can now set out with a digital camera to realize their dreams and MIFF is always waiting round the corner to provide them a platform for outreach.”

The Minister congratulated Dr. S. Krishnaswamy for winning the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award at MIFF 2020.  He said he is sure that his body of work will truly inspire the younger story-tellers not just in India but across the globe. He also extended his best wishes to all the participating filmmakers, film lovers, jury members, selection committee members and the organizing team for an eventful and successful weak ahead.

The Guest of Honour and Maharashtra State Minister Shri Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh said: “Films Division, which has been the defining force in the documentary film movement in India since 1948, has made possible the dream of documentary film making for many Indian youngsters. It had the vision of establishing MIFF as one of the most sought-after cultural events of the country. MIFF has steadily grown in stature over the years and is one of the best organized documentary film festivals in the world. The best minds in the documentary film movement will gather in Mumbai during the coming days. I congratulate Films Division and the Ministry of I&B for making MIFF a roaring success. Hope the 16th edition will not only be a new experience, but also inspire you to watch films which will be screened in future editions of MIFF”. Speaking on the changes in the industry, the Minister said the sector faces challenges and encouraged the audience to deal with the challenges and take the industry to greater heights.

Welcoming the gathering to the 16th edition of the festival, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, Shri Atul Kumar Tiwari said that the festival will showcase the best documentaries, short fiction films and animation films drawn from all over the world and will also have engaging sessions. “The Government of India has always been extending support in strengthening the documentary film movement. Films Division has been contributing to this movement, as well as towards preserving the rich cinematic history of India. The non-feature genre got a boost in 1990 with the birth of MIFF. MIFF today is one of the best international platforms for non-feature films and filmmakers. MIFF, in a small and impactful way, tries to the rise to the occasion of making positive impact on society. MIFF has gone mobile this year, with a mobile app which provides all information and updates on the festival.”

President, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), Ms. Usha Deshpande said: “IDPA has been a partner in MIFF right from the beginning. We organize workshops, panel discussions and master classes and also present an award for the best student film. This year, in collaboration with Films Division, we are helping organize special screenings on college campuses. We also try to explore problems and solutions faced by the documentary film industry. The documentary film industry fulfills a very important mission, we deserve wide support in taking forward this movement.”

Addressing and welcoming the gathering, MIFF festival director and Director General, Films Division, Ms. Smita Vats Sharma said: “Documentary films hold a mirror to society and play a crucial role in documenting heritage, history and values of a nation and its people. With this mission in mind MIFF, was conceptualized as a platform to showcase the best in non-fiction filmmaking. MIFF has grown in stature from year to year. The 16th edition is here with more energy and passion.”

The Festival Director spoke of the various attractions of MIFF 2020, including special film packages and workshops, master classes and special film screenings at college campuses. She said that the National Museum of Indian Cinema, inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India in January 2019 and housed in the Films Division premises, adds another unforgettable dimension to the festival.

MIFF pays Homage to Eminent Filmmakers

The opening ceremony recollected with fondness and gratitude, the memories and legacies of some significant, eminent filmmakers who are no longer with us. The festival pays homage to Mrinal Sen,

Girish Karnad, Vijaya Mulay, Manjira Datta, Ram Mohan, Bhimsain Khurana, V G Samant, Jagadish Banerjee, Bhanumurthy Alur, Agnes Varda (France), Bernado Bertolucci (Italy) and Milos Forman (Chechoslovakia). A compilation of glimpses of their works were shown, as a tribute, at th opening ceremony. The festival is screening select works of these filmmakers and also presents specially curated exhibitions on their contributions.

Konstantin Bronzit’s “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”, Jeremy Comte’s “Fauve” and Gautam Bora’s “Rhyme and Rhythm of Loom” open the festival

The celebration of films at the festival began with the screening of the Russian animation film, “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” from Konstantin Bronzit Retrospective; the film is a story of two friends who dream about space and do everything possible to make their dream a reality. The second opening film, Jeremy Comte’s Canadian short fiction film “Fauve” from Oscar films package, is a tale set in a surface mine, of two boys sinking into a seemingly innocent power game, with Mother Nature as the sole observer. Indian short documentary film “Rhyme and Rhythm of Loom” by Gautam Bora is the other opening film; drawn from the Special Package of Films from the North East India, this film is about the age-old textile weaving tradition among the women in the Missing community of Assam and the threat it faces due to the changing demands of the market economy.

India Tourism showcases Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat through Cultural Performance

A prime attraction of the opening ceremony was a cultural performance organized by India Tourism, Mumbai, showcasing the rich heritage and culture of India. Ms. Harshada Jambekar and her team enthralled the audience with rendition of traditional Maharashtrian folk dance – the very graceful & vibrant ‘lavani’. An eclectic dance performance “Nrutyarang” showcased the spirit and essence of ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’, through a confluence of different Indian classical dance styles; the performance was choreographed by Odissi exponent Smt. Shubhada Varadkar.

Why you should attend MIFF

During the week-long festival which comes to a close with the award ceremony at Nehru Centre Auditorium, Worli, Mumbai on February 3, 2020, film-lovers will not only get to watch some of the finest films in competition and other sections, but also get an opportunity to meet and engage with eminent film personalities and cine enthusiasts, through master classes, workshops, interactive sessions, open forums and lecture demonstrations on diverse aspects of cinema and filmmaking. Organized by Films Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India with the support of the Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai International Film Festival is one of the oldest, largest and most sought after festivals for Documentary, Short Fiction & Animation films in South Asia and brings a lot of valuable content for film makers and cineastes.

The 16th edition of MIFF promises to be special in many respects. Apart from screening of a wide variety of films in competition sections, tribute will be paid to departed legends of documentary and animation genres, with special screenings in homage section, apart from exhibitions on a few of them.  Animation lovers will be delighted to savour retrospective packages from three countries. European documentary culture will be revealed through a specially curated package. The delegates of 16th MIFF will get to experience films drawn from a diverse canvas.

The MIFF 2020 will have a number of attractions such as a special package of films from European Union, Animation package from Russia, Finland and Balkan; Oscar nominated films such as FauveDetainment and Night at the Garden. Ireland will showcase its best documentaries in the Country Focus section.

Similarly, curated films from North-East India, best of various International Film Festivals and eminent film maker Satyajit Ray’s films such as Sukumar Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, The inner Eye, and iconic film Pikoo will be screened.  Student films from FTII, SRFTI, NID, FTIT, Srishti, Craft School and Whistlingwood add to the list of films eagerly awaited by delegates of MIFF.  Other highlights include Open Forum by IDPA, ‘Film Editing’ workshop by B. Lenin, ‘Drone Cinematography’ Workshop by Indian Institute of Drones, Master classes by acclaimed animator Michael Dudok De Wit (Poland), senior film academician Thomas Waugh (Canada) and many more.

Added attractions in MIFF 2020 are Sculpture and Photo Exhibition-cum-demonstration to commemorate 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and celebration of Centenary of Satyajit Ray.  MIFF will pay homage to Mrinal Sen, Ram Mohan, Bhimsain Khurana, VG Samant, Vijaya Mule, Manjira Datta and others.  This edition will also see a participation of intellectually challenged young adults with their short films, in special screenings. Further, films recommended by the Selection Committee will be screened under MIFF Prism in both national and international categories.

It is a matter of pride for the festival that this edition of MIFF has received a record number of more than 850 entries from more than 25 countries, in the national and international competition categories.

Screening and other special events of the festival will be held at Films Division complex at 24, Dr. G. DeshmukhMarg, Mumbai from 29th January to 2nd February, 2020.

MIFF 2020 will also facilitate conversations, Q& A sessions and B2B meets between filmmakers and OTT players, to help filmmakers better market their films and to contribute to better understanding of the expectations of OTT players as regards documentaries, short films and animation films which can be hosted on the platforms.

MIFF to present an array of Awards in Recognition of Cinematic Excellence

The Festival Director has informed that Mumbai International Film Festival is a platform not only for Indian film makers but also for filmmakers from across the world. “MIFF not only recognizes best talents in documentary, short fiction and animation films by bestowing Golden and  Silver Conches and trophies, but it also gives away handsome cash awards in different competition categories. The most prestigious award in the 16th MIFF, the Best Film of the Festival carries a cash prize of 10 Lakh rupees and Golden Conch while other awards carry cash awards varying from five to one lakh rupees along with Silver Conch, trophy and certificate. IDPA award carrying Rs.1 lakh and trophy for the Best student film and Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Award for the Best Debut Director will also be presented on the closing day. Awards in various competition categories will also be presented on 3rd February at the closing ceremony”, she added.

A special award for the best short film on ‘Water Conservation and Climate Change’ carrying One lakh cash and trophy has been instituted in the current edition of the festival.

MIFF reaches out to youth through Screenings at College Campuses

As part of MIFF 2020, screenings of specially curated films will be held at Kalina campus of University of Mumbai, Deviprasad Goenka Management College at Malad and Usha Pravin Gandhi College Campus at Vile Parle to encourage and engage students at large to get involved in documentary film making and aesthetics. Legendary animation films will be screened at college campuses to attract younger audiences.

How to Stay updated about the festival events

A mobile app for MIFF has been launched, where festival delegates can access all information and updates on the festival. “MIFF 2020 is going mobile. All information on the festival can be accessed via the mobile app. The MIFF app will facilitate the delegates of MIFF to network and vote for films too”, stated Director General, Films Division, Ms. Smita Vats Sharma. The MIFF app can be downloaded here:

The app can be downloaded also using the QR code, given below.

Apart from the mobile app, information on the festival can be accessed also at the festival website The Festival Directorate can be approached at [email protected] for queries related to the festival. Film lovers may also check out festival updates from the Twitter account of PIB Mumbai @PIBMumbai, as well as on the social media accounts of MIFF India.