21st MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (2019 Edition) - Essentials

by nairtejas | created - 03 Sep 2019 | updated - 25 Oct 2019 | Public

MAMI 2019 watchlist.

And like every year, the much-awaited MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is back in 2019, this time happening between 17 October and 24 October. And here is a list of must-watch films that every cinephile should catch by hook or crook. Means by booking a show at 8 in the morning on BookMyShow or waiting in a serpentine queue or by cheating the system or by pushing the person next to you to gain that one pass to the show. Whatever it takes, right?

Curated by me based on hype and buzz, performance in other film festivals around the world (chiefly TIFF, Venice, Cannes, Telluride, and Sundance), and sheer artistry. The first time I have added documentaries to my list.

For more updates and takes on the festival, check out my website - nair tejas dot com.

Last updated: 12 October 2019

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1. The Elder One (2019)

Not Rated | 125 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A transgender child from Lakshadweep sets off to Mumbai in pursuit of Akbar, an elder brother who left the island due to his sexual orientation.

Director: Geethu Mohandas | Stars: Nivin Pauly, Shashank Arora, Sanjana Dipu, Sobhita Dhulipala

Votes: 1,389

AKA The Elder One. Opening film. First-ever Malayalam film to do so.

2. Axone (2019)

96 min | Comedy, Drama

In Delhi, friends from Northeast India prepare a pungent delicacy for a wedding party, sparking conflict and comedy with their unaccustomed neighbors.

Director: Nicholas Kharkongor | Stars: Sayani Gupta, Lin Laishram, Jimpa Bhutia, Tenzing Dalha

Votes: 1,749

3. Iewduh (2019)

95 min | Drama

The film portrays the lives of everyday people with everyday stories, not dignified as heroes, but nevertheless people who make the lives of each other better.

Director: Pradip Kurbah | Stars: Albert Mawrie, Denver Pariat, Richard Kharpuri, Anvil Laloo

Votes: 28

4. Sindhustan (2019)

Not Rated | 64 min | Documentary, Family, History

Sindhustan is the story of the largest migration of a culture in history told through ink (tattoos). NOW STREAMING WORLDWIDE ON MOVIESAINTS DOT COM / MOVIE / SINDHUSTAN

Director: Sapna Bhavnani | Stars: Leila Advani, Laj Badlani, Chaho Bhara, Kishanchand Bhavnani

Votes: 27

5. Bitter Tree (2019)

113 min | Drama, Family | Completed

KAAJRO is story of Tilgya, belonging to an untouchable caste. His village is celebrating the annual festival of Dasshera, marking triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana i.e. good over bad. ... See full summary »

Director: Nitin Bhaskar | Stars: Vitthal Kale, Vishnu Joshi, Narendra Kadkade, Gopal Bimber

6. Slow Burn (2019)

80 min | Drama

'Ranj' is a story of a village youth, Amanpreet, who is driven to despair in a hostile big city.

Director: Sunit Sinha | Stars: Raju Kumar, Madhu Sagar, Kriti Sharma, Adesh Sidhu

Votes: 9

7. The Prologue (2019)

102 min | Drama | Completed

Friendship of a middle-aged man and his young project assistant on a job trip in the faraway mountains might pave a path of attachment for a lifetime in this heart-wrenching travel-drama.

Directors: Chandrasish Ray, Chandrasish Ray

8. Ravening (2019)

107 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Two chaste lovers bow down to social taboos and repress their feelings, but doing so pushes them towards a horrific crime.

Director: Bhaskar Hazarika | Stars: Lima Das, Arghadeep Baruah, Neetali Das, Sagar Saurabh

Votes: 1,632

9. Bombay Rose (2019)

PG-13 | 93 min | Animation, Drama, Romance

BOMBAY ROSE is a beautiful hand-painted animation created by award winning animator Gitanjali Rao. A romance set on the streets of Bombay we witness Kamala and Salim's quest for love in this chaotic and beautiful city.

Director: Gitanjali Rao | Stars: Anurag Kashyap, Makrand Deshpande, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma

Votes: 127

10. Gamak Ghar (2019)

91 min | Drama

In a north Indian village, a family reunites at their ancestral house to celebrate a new birth in the family. It's a joyous, carefree occasion. Over the next two decades, through festivals ... See full summary »

Director: Achal Mishra | Stars: Abhinav Jha, Mira Jha, Satyam Jha, Satyendra Jha

Votes: 159

11. That Cloud Never Left (2019)

65 min | Documentary, Fantasy

Toymakers in a Bengal village prepare for an upcoming lunar eclipse.

Director: Yashaswini Raghunandan

Votes: 17

12. Cargo (2019)

119 min | Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

A young female astronaut, who joins a reclusive astronaut aboard a spaceship, struggles with her job as she interacts with mysterious Cargos that appear on the ship.

Director: Arati Kadav | Stars: Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi, Nandu Madhav, Ritwik Bhowmik

Votes: 2,241

13. The Irishman (2019)

R | 209 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

94 Metascore

An old man recalls his time painting houses for his friend, Jimmy Hoffa, through the 1950-70s.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel

Votes: 314,094 | Gross: $7.00M

14. The Report (I) (2019)

R | 119 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

Idealistic Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones, tasked by his boss to lead an investigation into the CIA's post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program, uncovers shocking secrets.

Director: Scott Z. Burns | Stars: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Ted Levine

Votes: 31,562

15. Honey Boy (2019)

R | 94 min | Drama

73 Metascore

A young actor's stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health.

Director: Alma Har'el | Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, Byron Bowers

Votes: 26,066

16. Ad Astra (2019)

PG-13 | 123 min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery

80 Metascore

Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

Director: James Gray | Stars: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Donald Sutherland

Votes: 192,365 | Gross: $35.40M

17. Midsommar (2019)

R | 148 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

72 Metascore

A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper

Votes: 190,556 | Gross: $27.33M

18. The Souvenir (2019)

R | 120 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

91 Metascore

A young film student in the early '80s becomes romantically involved with a complicated and untrustworthy man.

Director: Joanna Hogg | Stars: Neil Young, Tosin Cole, Jack McMullen, Frankie Wilson

Votes: 8,355 | Gross: $1.04M

19. Pain and Glory (2019)

R | 113 min | Drama

87 Metascore

An aging film director suffering from chronic illness and writer's block reflects on his life.

Director: Pedro Almodóvar | Stars: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas

Votes: 47,289

20. Sorry We Missed You (2019)

101 min | Drama

82 Metascore

Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor

Votes: 15,013

21. The Beach Bum (2019)

R | 95 min | Comedy

55 Metascore

A rebellious stoner named Moondog lives life by his own rules.

Director: Harmony Korine | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Stefania LaVie Owen

Votes: 17,969 | Gross: $3.49M

22. The Golden Glove (2019)

Not Rated | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

38 Metascore

A serial killer strikes fear in the hearts of residents of Hamburg during the early 1970s.

Director: Fatih Akin | Stars: Jonas Dassler, Tristan Göbel, Margarete Tiesel, Adam Bousdoukos

Votes: 8,761

23. Bacurau (2019)

131 min | Adventure, Horror, Mystery

82 Metascore

After the death of her grandmother, Teresa comes home to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all of its residents.

Directors: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho | Stars: Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Thardelly Lima

Votes: 17,987

24. Marriage Story (2019)

R | 137 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

94 Metascore

Noah Baumbach's incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

Director: Noah Baumbach | Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Julia Greer, Azhy Robertson

Votes: 236,928 | Gross: $2.00M

25. Synonyms (2019)

Unrated | 123 min | Comedy, Drama

84 Metascore

A young Israeli man absconds to Paris to flee his nationality, aided by his trusty Franco-Israeli dictionary.

Director: Nadav Lapid | Stars: Tom Mercier, Quentin Dolmaire, Louise Chevillotte, Uria Hayik

Votes: 4,653

26. The Art of Self-Defense (2019)

R | 104 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

65 Metascore

After being attacked on the street, a young man enlists at a local dojo, led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei, in an effort to learn how to defend himself from future threats.

Director: Riley Stearns | Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots, Steve Terada

Votes: 26,446 | Gross: $2.41M

27. The Dead Don't Die (2019)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

53 Metascore

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.

Director: Jim Jarmusch | Stars: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, Chloë Sevigny

Votes: 50,250 | Gross: $6.56M

28. The Whistlers (2019)

Not Rated | 97 min | Comedy, Crime

76 Metascore

Not everything is as it seems for Cristi, a policeman who plays both sides of the law. Embarking with the beautiful Gilda on a high-stakes heist, both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery and deception.

Director: Corneliu Porumboiu | Stars: Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Agustí Villaronga

Votes: 3,691

29. Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019)

PG-13 | 120 min | Documentary

82 Metascore

This artful and intimate meditation on the legendary storyteller examines her life, her works and the powerful themes she has confronted throughout her literary career.

Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders | Stars: Toni Morrison, Hilton Als, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Banks

Votes: 487 | Gross: $0.88M

30. Varda by Agnès (2019)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary, Biography

85 Metascore

Agnès Varda, photographer, installation artist and pioneer of the Nouvelle Vague, is an institution of French cinema. Taking a seat on a theatre stage, she uses photos and film excerpts to provide an insight into her unorthodox oeuvre.

Stars: Agnès Varda, Sandrine Bonnaire, Hervé Chandès, Nurith Aviv

Votes: 1,672

31. What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2018)

98 min | Documentary, Biography

68 Metascore

A portrait of the work and life of controversial film critic Pauline Kael, and her battle to achieve success and influence in the 20th century movie business.

Director: Rob Garver | Stars: Woody Allen, Lili Anolik, Alec Baldwin, Carol Baum

Votes: 389

32. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi (2019)

Comedy, Drama

Ramprasad Bhargava's sudden dead brings his family back home where his wife lives alone. Their six children arrive with their families to complete the patriarch's last rites.

Director: Seema Bhargava | Stars: Deepika Amin, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Ninad Kamat, Vineet Kumar

Votes: 11

33. A Son (2019)

95 min | Drama

11 year old Aziz needs a liver transplant after being seriously injured during a terrorist ambush while on holiday in 2011. At the hospital a family secret will be revealed.

Director: Mehdi Barsaoui | Stars: Sami Bouajila, Najla Ben Abdallah, Youssef Khemiri, Noomen Hamda

Votes: 480

34. Atlantics (2019)

TV-14 | 106 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

85 Metascore

In a popular suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Souleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another.

Director: Mati Diop | Stars: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Traore, Nicole Sougou

Votes: 7,491

35. Babyteeth (2019)

MA-17 | 118 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

77 Metascore

Milla, a seriously ill teenager, falls in love with a drug dealer, Moses, her parents worst nightmare.

Director: Shannon Murphy | Stars: Eliza Scanlen, Michelle Lotters, Toby Wallace, Sora Wakaki

Votes: 6,410

36. Die Kinder der Toten (2019)

90 min | Horror, Mystery

Based on the 1995 novel "The Children of the Dead" by unorthodox author Elfriede Jelinek. About the mental repression of the Holocaust in post-war Austria, with zombie children.

Directors: Kelly Copper, Pavol Liska | Stars: Georg Beyer, Lukas Eigl, Greta Kostka, Andrea Maier

Votes: 337

37. Sole (2019)

90 min | Drama

Lena is seven months pregnant and she's ready to sell the baby in her belly. Ermanno agrees to pretend to be the father. Fabio, the uncle of Ermanno, will pay them to buy the child that he ... See full summary »

Director: Carlo Sironi | Stars: Bruno Buzzi, Sandra Drzymalska, Marco Felli, Barbara Ronchi

Votes: 397

38. System Crasher (2019)

125 min | Drama

90 Metascore

On her wild quest for love, 9-year-old Benni's untamed energy drives everyone around her to despair.

Director: Nora Fingscheidt | Stars: Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Lisa Hagmeister

Votes: 8,585

39. Talking About Trees (2019)

93 min | Documentary

Four older Sudanese filmmakers with passion for film battle to bring cinema-going back to Sudan, not without resistance. Their 'Sudanese Film Club' have decided to revive an old cinema, and again draw attention to Sudanese film history.

Director: Suhaib Gasmelbari | Stars: Manar Al Hilo, Suleiman Ibrahim, Altayeb Mahdi, Ibrahim Shaddad

Votes: 615

40. You Will Die at 20 (2019)

103 min | Drama

Shortly after Muzamil was born, the village's holy man predicts that he will die at age 20. Muzamil's father can't stand the curse and leaves home. Sakina raises her son as a single mother, overly protective. One day, Muzamil turns 19.

Director: Amjad Abu Alala | Stars: Islam Mubarak, Mustafa Shehata, Moatasem Rashed, Mahmoud Alsarraj

Votes: 953

41. A Thing Of Magic (2019)

100 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Gundu Kakka is a struggling harmonium player, who aspires to join a local drama troupe. One day, after watching a 3D movie, he presents a pair of 3D glasses to two sisters - Pradnya and ... See full summary »

Director: Nithin Anil | Stars: Vaibhavi Pramod Kadam, Pradnya Parshuram Kadam

Votes: 5

42. Aadhaar (2019)

107 min | Drama

The story revolves around a villager called Pharsua, who is the first to enrol for Aadhaar card in his village but due to a premonition concerning his wife's health by the village priest ... See full summary »

Director: Suman Ghosh | Stars: Viineet Kumar, Saurabh Shukla, Raghuvir Yadav, Sanjay Mishra

Votes: 17

43. Roam Rome Mein (2019)

107 min | Drama

Raj (played by Nawazuddin Siddique) goes to Rome in search of his missing sister. In his search he meets some magical characters who take him through his own journey of self realization. Does he find his sister in the end?

Director: Tannishtha Chatterjee | Stars: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Valentina Corti, Francesco Apolloni

Votes: 46

44. The Illegal (2019)

86 min | Drama

A gritty realistic story about a young film school student from middle-class India who's forced to drop out to support his family while staying in the United States as an undocumented worker.

Director: Danish Renzu | Stars: Suraj Sharma, Shweta Tripathi, Adil Hussain, Iqbal Theba

Votes: 33

45. The Last Color (2019)

90 min | Drama

The film is the screen adaptation of Chef Vikas Khanna's novel The Last Color, which follows the friendship between a young tight-rope walker and a widow named Noor in Vrindavan. The duo ... See full summary »

Directors: Vikas Khanna, Anuj Tyagi | Stars: Neena Gupta, Jyoti, Rajeswar Khanna, Aslam Shekh

Votes: 31

46. The Lighthouse (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror