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

by nairtejas | created - 2 months ago | updated - 2 weeks ago | 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: 274

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

2. Axone (2019)

96 min | Comedy, Drama

Follows migrants in Delhi, in their attempt to organize a wedding party, they find out everything is not going according to plan.

Director: Nicholas Kharkongor | Stars: Dolly Ahluwalia, Jimpa Bhutia, Vijay Kumar Dogra, Sayani Gupta

Votes: 15

3. Iewduh (2019)

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: Richard Kharpuri, Anvil Laloo, Enshon Lamare, Baia Marbaniang

4. Sindhustan

60 min | Documentary, History | Post-production

Sindhustan is the story of the largest migration of a culture in history told through ink (tattoos).

Director: Sapna Bhavnani | Stars: Sapna Bhavnani, Sundri Keswani, Laj Badlani, Leila Advani

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, Jyoti Bagkar, Vishnu Joshi, Narendra Kadkade

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

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

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, Chandan Bhuyan

Votes: 41

9. Bombay Rose (2019)

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, Shishir Sharma, Makrand Deshpande, Virendra Saxena

Votes: 47

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, Satyendra Jha, Soniya Jha

Votes: 17

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: 7

12. Cargo (2019)

119 min | Fantasy, Horror, 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.

Directors: Abhilash Chandra, Arati Kadav | Stars: Armaan Mirza, Nandu Madhav, Vikrant Massey, Shweta Tripathi

Votes: 18

13. The Irishman (2019)

R | 209 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

95 Metascore

A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin

Votes: 6,698

14. The Report (I) (2019)

R | 119 min | Drama, Thriller

70 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: 1,070

15. Honey Boy (2019)

R | 94 min | Drama

70 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: 1,151

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: 67,157 | Gross: $35.40M

17. Midsommar (I) (2019)

R | 147 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: 77,274 | Gross: $27.33M

18. The Souvenir (2019)

R | 120 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

92 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, Tilda Swinton

Votes: 3,655 | Gross: $1.04M

19. Pain & Glory (2019)

R | 113 min | Drama

88 Metascore

A film director reflects on the choices he's made in life as past and present come crashing down around him.

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

Votes: 17,563

20. Sorry We Missed You (2019)

101 min | Drama

79 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: Debbie Honeywood, Kris Hitchen, Rhys Stone, Nikki Marshall

Votes: 2,197

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: 11,959 | 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, Margarete Tiesel, Martina Eitner-Acheampong, Katja Studt

Votes: 4,018

23. Bacurau (2019)

131 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

74 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: 4,353

24. Marriage Story (2019)

R | 136 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: Scarlett Johansson, Merritt Wever, Adam Driver, Laura Dern

Votes: 1,763

25. Synonyms (2019)

123 min | 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: 2,153

26. The Art of Self-Defense (2019)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

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: 11,296 | Gross: $2.41M

27. The Dead Don't Die (2019)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

54 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: 29,755 | Gross: $6.56M

28. The Whistlers (2019)

97 min | Comedy, Crime

74 Metascore

A policeman intent on freeing a crooked businessman from a prison on Gomera, an island in the Canaries. However, he must first learn the difficult local dialect, a language which includes hissing and spitting.

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

Votes: 784

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

PG-13 | 120 min | Documentary

80 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: 225 | Gross: $0.88M

30. Varda by Agnès (2019– )

115 min | Documentary, Biography

83 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: 685

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

98 min | Documentary, Biography

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: 128

33. A Son (2019)

95 min | Drama

10 years old Aziz needs a blood transfusion for getting injured during an ambush while on holiday in Tunisia, this event will reveal a heavy family secret.

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

Votes: 72

34. Atlantics (2019)

104 min | Drama

80 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: Abdou Balde, Aminata Kane, Ibrahima Mbaye, Amadou Mbow

Votes: 555

35. Babyteeth (2019)

120 min | Comedy, Drama

73 Metascore

When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with smalltime drug dealer Moses, it's her parents' worst nightmare. But as Milla's first brush with love brings her a new lust for ... See full summary »

Director: Shannon Murphy | Stars: Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis, Eliza Scanlen, Emily Barclay

Votes: 290

36. Die Kinder der Toten (2019)

90 min | Mystery

Karin and her dominate mother stand out from the huge crowd of descending travelers. After an extravagant dinner consisting of singing and traditional Styrian dishes, the tourists are run ... See full summary »

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

Votes: 116

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: 92

38. System Crasher (2019)

118 min | Drama

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: 1,488

39. Talking About Trees (2019)

90 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: Suleiman Ibrahim, Ibrahim Shaddad

Votes: 117

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: 204

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: 10

43. Roam Rome Mein (2019)

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: 27

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

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 »

Director: Vikas Khanna | Stars: Neena Gupta, Rajeswar Khanna, Aslam Shekh, Aqsa Siddique

Votes: 16

46. The Lighthouse (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

83 Metascore

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeriia Karaman

Votes: 13,165 | Gross: $0.43M

47. Buoyancy (2019)

93 min | Drama

14-year-old Chakra is sold as a slave labourer to the captain of a Thai fishing vessel. The captain's rule on board is cruel and arbitrary.

Director: Rodd Rathjen | Stars: Sarm Heng, Thanawut Kasro, Mony Ros, Saichia Wongwirot

Votes: 177

48. Alien (1979)

R | 117 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

89 Metascore

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 733,241 | Gross: $78.90M

49. Greener Grass (2019)

Unrated | 95 min | Comedy

69 Metascore

Suburban soccer moms find themselves constantly competing against each other in their personal lives as their kids settle their differences on the field.

Directors: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe | Stars: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey

Votes: 772

50. Harpoon (2019)

R | 83 min | Comedy, Horror

65 Metascore

Rivalries, dark secrets, and sexual tension emerge when three best friends find themselves stranded on a yacht in the middle of the ocean desperate for survival.

Director: Rob Grant | Stars: Brett Gelman, Munro Chambers, Emily Tyra, Christopher Gray

Votes: 896

51. The Lodge (2019)

R | 100 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

68 Metascore

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé's two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz | Stars: Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone, Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell

Votes: 903

52. The Two Popes (2019)

PG-13 | 125 min | Comedy, Drama

83 Metascore

Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict and the liberal future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.

Director: Fernando Meirelles | Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins, Juan Minujín, Sidney Cole

Votes: 394

53. The Wild Goose Lake (2019)

113 min | Crime, Drama