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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



MAMI’s 19th Mumbai Film Festival, 12-18 November, Mumbai: Many good films, no masterpieces

MAMI’s 19th Mumbai Film Festival, 12-18 November, Mumbai: Many good films, no masterpieces

Overview of the films, seen and unseen.

*Mukkabaaz-India-Anurag Kashyap: Inaugural film, inaccessible to me.

Anurag Kashyap is a much-acclaimed film-maker and a member of the Board of Trustees of Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI).

India Gold section

*Checkmate-India-Ektara Collective: Good feature film debut of independent collective: ***

(film still above).

*Granny (Ajji): India-Devashish Makhija: Both shows in low-seating multiplex full. No seats available. Director Makhija offered me his VIP pass at one show, but it was too late; event manager insisted that there was no place.

*Ralang Road-India-Karma Takapa: Exotic locale, but nothing happens for 30 minutes. Walked out.

International Competition films

*Apostasy-UK-Daniel Kokotajlo: Insider’s look at the Jehovah’s Witness sect. Heartbreaking. ***

*Bad Lucky Goat-Colombia-Samir Oliveros: A good first film, with some oddball comedy and a touch of the supernatural but with some rough edges. **1/2

*I Am Not a Witch-UK, France-Rungano Nyoni: Hard-hitting attack on superstition and exploitation. ***1/2

Montparnasse Bienvenue-France-Leonor Serraille: A dumped girl-friend decides to carry-on, with only a cat for company. ***

More-Turkey-Onur Saylak: Heart-wrenching film about the plight of Syrian refugees exploited by cold-blooded human traffickers. Just a hint of good and redemption. ***1/2

Most Beautiful Island-USA, Spain-Ana Asensio: Drawing on the personal experience of the writer-director, it nevertheless reminds you of the Australian film Sleeping Beauty. Some blood-curdling moments apart, it has a very thin and repetitive premise. **1/2

Oh Lucy!-USA, Japan-Atsuko Hiranayagi: Feature-length version of the director’s 2014 short, the film explores various shades of black, white and grey, comedy and tragedy. ***1/2

Quest-USA-Jonathan Olshefski: Chronicle of a black working class family in North Philadelphia filmed over 11 years, it captures racism amidst eternal hope and the magic of music. A documentary, competing with features (why?), it can stand on its own. ***1/2

Scary Mother-Georgia, Estonia-Ana Urushadze: Much ado about nothing. A fifty year-old house-wife living in a patriarchal society pens a novel secretly, and faces the consequences. Nothing scary about this mother. **

Summer 1993-Spain-Carla Simon: Simon sure knows how to draw out naturally mesmerising performances from little kids. Endearing family values amid death and illness. ***1/2

The Wound-South Africa, Germany, France-John Trengove: Circumcision, coupled with homosexuality, is the theme of this crude effort. Walked out 30 minutes into the running time, wounded.

Winter Brothers-Denmark, Iceland-Hlynur Palmason: Few film-makers from other parts of the world do justice to themes of loneliness and absence of love as do the North Europeans. Realistically made, the film is a complex tale of deviant human behaviour, morality and amorality. ***1/2



About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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