We will be making our decision on the originality of the script. That is the main aspect of evaluation. Another aspect will be good story telling. We will be looking at new forms of film structure and the greatest technical achievements that a filmmaker has incorporated in his film. However, sometimes, a story is so strong and affecting that the technical side takes a back seat.
Will you be laying down a mandate or guidelines for your fellow jury members?
The post of President is not a dictatorial role. The jury comprises a very experienced lot and can judge, criticise and discuss for themselves. I head an open and clear discussion to achieve a majority decision. Art is something that cannot be over-controlled.
Are there any films you are personally looking forward to?
I am quite excited about the entire line-up for the festival but I am really eager to watch quite a bit of new Indian cinema.
Your thoughts on the Mumbai Film Festival and what it is trying to achieve.
The aim of the festival is mainly to form an alliance between countries through the common language of cinema. The festival strives to make stronger connections between East and West in every sense, be it cultural, social or political. The focus is to unite the world through film connections. Being a British/Scottish person, living in the UK, where there are many Indian (and Pakistani) Muslim and Buddhist communities, it is vital to find a more open understanding between the British and those of Eastern background. Films can certainly help bring this about.
Your thoughts on Indian cinema.
I have not had the opportunity to watch any new Indian films. But I think really highly of Indian films especially films like Water by Deepa Mehta and of course one of the world’s greatest directors Satyajit Ray. Also the hybrid director James Ivory and his partner Ismail Merchant. Their earlier films were on Indian subjects but they soon become Anglo or American in their subjects and attitude.
Your film, Chariots of Fire, won multiple awards including Oscars. How important are awards for a filmmaker?
Awards for a first-time director are an incredible boost. The filmmaker gets noticed and it gives him or her a great level of confidence. I won an Oscar for my first long-form film, which won Best Picture awards at the Oscars and many honours in the US and the UK, although I had made many documentaries famous commercials. However, it is important to be grounded despite winning awards. Success can go to anyone’s head. The important thing is to enjoy filmmaking, make films that have personal relevance. Do it for the right reason and not for the money.