MAMI’s year-round programme comes home

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It continues to rain goodies for binge watchers during the lockdown. With the launch of the “home theatre” on Friday, April 24, one of India’s front-ranking film festivals, Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival with Star, is making one of its arms — the popular year-round film programme — go digital while tiding over COVID-19.

An extension — and not a replacement — of the year-round programme, the online avtaar will be open to viewers from across India.

While registration will be free, a nominal fee per film will have to be paid directly to the filmmaker, after which the web link will be made available to the member for a limited period of time.

“The idea is to have filmmakers become theatre owners and bring their films to premiere in your homes,” said Smriti Kiran, Artistic Director, Mumbai Film Festival, adding, “It empowers filmmakers and we help them find an audience not just in the city but across the country.” The festival’s role, as a not-for-profit entity, is of championing the films and the filmmakers and help in outreach and promotion.

Wide reach

The idea is to make it a functional, easy and effective viewing experience online. Unlike the limited seats in the theatre, there won’t be any capacity issues here, ensuring a wide reach. “Thousands can watch it. It also empowers the audience,” said Ms. Smriti.

The titles will include those not available on streaming platforms. “There are a considerable number of incredible films sitting with producers and filmmakers that are not available on any platform,” said Ms. Smriti. In fact, the idea to begin MAMI home theatre came to her while making a list of titles from the festival’s past editions for someone who had asked for it.

A goldmine

She realised that they were sitting on a literal goldmine that hadn’t found a way to reach the people.

The online programme kicks off with Tanuja Chandra’s delightful documentary Aunty Sudha, Aunty Radha, about her two aunts, aged 86 and 93, spending the sunset years of their lives together in Lahra village, near Hathras in Uttar Pradesh. The charge per viewing will be ₹55 and the producer, in this case, has decided to put the proceeds towards COVID-19 charity.

What next? For now it’s one step at a time. “We have already started working on a portal. We are also in conversation with a few platforms for a potential tie-up with this initiative. But till we can hone the pipeline, we request everyone for their patience and support with regard to the tech involved. We will get to a place that is systemically smooth soon,” said Ms. Smriti.

While stressing that “home theatre” will not be a replacement for the year-round programme, she also underlined that going forward, it would be “an arm that would need to be built stronger”. They may be trying something new for now but are committed to it for the long term.

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