It has not brought about a change in cinema for me personally as I have been making films before the MFF started. It is slowly creating an audience for world cinema and also for non-commercial cinema being made in our country. The best part about the MMF is the panel discussions.
How has the festival grown over the last 13 years?
In the last few years, it has become very important. It attracts a lot of press, a lot more people come to watch the films. More screens are added every year, which proves the festival has grown. It is an event that Mumbai looks forward to.
How can filmmakers benefit from this festival?
Hyderabad Blues got a distributor after it was screened at the MFF. But that is a rare case. It also happened as the film was a lighter and funny film. Every time my film has gone to a festival, distributors saw it as a bad thing and assumed it was an ‘arty’ film. So it is actually better if your film stays away from festivals till it is released! There have also been cases when films have been part of big festivals like Berlin and Toronto and that has not impacted Indian distributors.
Are there any changes you would want to make in the festival?
I travel half the year, attending different film festivals. At every festival, a certain number of seats are reserved for the director and other members of the festivals, which is not the case with the MFF. Also, the selection process for Indian films should focus on films that have not released as people have not yet watched them.
What are your expectations from the MFF next year?
Looking at the queue outside every screening, you wish that next year it would be even bigger.