- "We come to this edition with conflicted emotions," said Anupama Chopra
- Ms Chopra is the festival director
- "I want to here personally apologise," she said
Anupama Chopra on Thursday said the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival was in solidarity with the #MeToo movement and understands the pain caused by its decision to drop some of the films from the event. At the opening ceremony of the 20th edition of the event, festival director Ms Chopra said they are starting this edition with "conflicted emotions".
After the #MeToo movement intensified in the entertainment industry, MAMI dropped AIB's production Chintu Ka Birthday from the festival's line-up over allegations of sexual misconduct against two of its members - Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba.
Recently, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who has been accused of shielding director Vikas Bahl in an alleged sexual harassment case, stepped down as the board member.
Rajat Kapoor's Kadakhwas also dropped from the festival as the actor-filmmaker was accused of harassment.
Filmmaker Shazia Iqbal questioned the festival's decision to drop her short film Bebaak, which had Mr Kashyap as one of the co-producers.
Ms Chopra said, "It (#MeToo movement) has forced all of us to look within and ask 'what could I have done differently? What changes now?' We come to this edition with conflicted emotions. In solidarity with the movement, we decided to exclude certain films from the festival".
"As filmmakers and film lovers, we understand and regret the pain we have caused. I want to here personally apologise to all the people we have disappointed," she said.
Ms Chopra said the academy is hopeful that the decision will only bring in positive change.
"We are also charged and hopeful that the decision we took to stand with the women who had the courage to raise their voice will lead to an environment that is constructive, inclusive and just," she added.
At the opening ceremony, filmmaker Shyam Benegal was given the Excellence In Cinema Award for his contribution to Indian cinema.
Mr Benegal, who is also one of the founding members of MAMI, said he "dreaded" the day when one of their own will be acknowledged but appreciated the honour.
He was given the award by Jaya Bachchan and Aamir Khan, who said the film industry owes a lot to the veteran filmmaker.
This year the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star will be commemorating the life and incredible career of Sridevi and honouring her with the MAMI Tribute for her exceptional contribution to Indian cinema.
The festival will also be honouring the renowned legacy and work of iconic Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman.
The opening film of this year's edition is Vasan Bala's Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota which won the People's Choice Award in the Midnight Madness section at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film chronicles the story of a young man born without pain receptors who longs to defeat 100 opponents in a kumite tournament.
The closing film of the festival would be Widows, directed by Steve McQueen.
The Dimensions Mumbai jury will be headed by Rajkumar Hirani. The jury members include Nambiar, Renuka Shahane and Parvathy.
International competition jury includes Vishal Bhardwaj, film editor Thom Noble and Jacqueline Lyanga. It will be headed by filmmaker Sean Baker.
This year the festival will also hold a series of master classes and conversations with several prominent people from the industry, including filmmaker Lucrecia Martel, Darren Aronofsky, Sean Baker, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, MUBI Founder Efe Cakarel.
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