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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. 



MIFF 2018, IX: I Am Not Your Negro to flag off the fest

MIFF 2018, IX: I Am Not Your Negro to flag off the fest

Director General of Films Division (Additional Charge) Manish Desai addressed a press conference at the Press Club, Mumbai, on 24 January 2018, a curtain-raiser to the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) for Documentary, Short and Animation films. The festival begins with an inaugural function at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), on the 28th of January, and then moves to its base at the Films Division complex the next day. During the festival, over 430 documentary and short films will be screened, from over 40 countries.

I Am Not Your Negro is the opening film. The 2017 Oscar nominated documentary on the American Civil Rights Movement has won top awards in Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and 8 other international festivals. A 93-minute documentary, written by James Baldwin and directed by Raoul Peck, connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present.

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent, describing his next project, to be called Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. But at the time of Baldwin’s death, in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of his manuscript. I Am Not Your Negro envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson. Alongside a flood of rich archival material, the film draws upon Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr,. to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America.

Raoul Peck’s body of work includes feature narrative films like The Man by the Shore (Competition Cannes 1993), Lumumba (Director’s Fortnight, Cannes 2000, bought and aired by HBO), Sometimes in April (HBO, Berlinale 2005), Moloch Tropical (Toronto 2009, Berlin 2010) and Murder in Pacot (Toronto 2014, Berlin 2015). His documentaries include Lumumba, Death of a Prophet (1990), Desounen (1994, BBC) and Fatal Assistance (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2013), which was supported by the Sundance Institute and Britdoc Foundation (UK) and broadcast on major TV channels (Canal+, ARTE, etc.)

Peck has served as jury member at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and at the Berlinale, is presently chairman of the board of the national French film school, La Fémis, and has been the subject of numerous retrospectives worldwide. In 2001, the Human Rights Watch organisation awarded him the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award. His latest work is The Young Karl Marx (Le jeune Karl Marx), a European co-production, shot in Germany and Belgium, which was shown at the Mumbai Film Festival and the International Film Festival of India.

Another highlight of the inaugural function will be the announcement of the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the iconic film-maker and studio-owner of yesteryear. It s given for the promotion of documentary movement in India, will be conferred upon an eminent documentary film maker chosen by an independent jury. The Award money for the Lifetime Achievement award has also been doubled from the earlier figure of Rs 500,000 (Rs 5 lakhs) to Rs 1 million (Rs 10 lakhs). 

MIFF is being organised by the Films Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India.



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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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