Over the last couple of years MAMI have had a strong relationship with TIFF. The artistic director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey visited Mumbai in early 2015 to do a workshop with the MAMI team. He was accompanied by his colleague Natalie Lue, VP of operations and production at TIFF. Cameron Bailey was also on last year’s International jury. The creative director of MAMI, Smriti Kiran recently attended a workshop at TIFF.
Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, TIFF
While they were both at TIFF, Firstpost spoke to them about MAMI, film festivals across the globe, funding, fashion and much more.
Ms. Kiran, MAMI is the biggest and brightest of its kind in India, and as the Creative Director, whats makes you the most nervous?
"Thank you for saying that! It always feels great to hear it and keeps us on our toes to never disappoint. Everything makes me nervous. I think it is good to be nervous because it keeps you grounded. MAMI is not a job. It is a responsibility, a commitment, an opportunity to put India on the world film festival map that cannot be lost. We produce 1000+ films a year. For us not to have a strong and defined film festival identity in the world is very problematic. From the programming to the systems, MAMI has to be world class and that too on a very tight budget that cannot be compared to any of the festivals across the world. The challenges are colossal but like all challenges they are not insurmountable. I come from a work ethic of results and therefore bolstering this space every year and delivery on all the promises to slowly move towards realizing the vision we have set for the festival and the academy are paramount to me. There is no point in doing the festival for the sake of doing it. It has to be a space that grows every year and fulfills a purpose."
Mr. Bailey, you deal with something extremely sensitive - creativity. As the Artistic Director of TIFF, what makes you the most nervous?
"Getting it. A film is a glimpse inside the mind of its creator. I always want to make sure I understand what the filmmaker was trying to do before I assess whether the attempt was successful."
Ms. Kiran, what has your experience been at TIFF?
"It has been an unbelievable experience. A festival residency at one of the best film festivals in the world is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Cameron Bailey and Natalie Lue are the architects of the program that was created and they gave me access that is unheard of. No wonder they are miles ahead of everyone. I knew the TIFF line up for this year two weeks before it was announced. Their trust and confidence in our festival is heartening and it encourages you to do even better. I was in meetings with every department ranging from production, programming, scheduling, technical production, events, security, digital studio, publicity, year round program, marketing, corporate sponsorship...the list is endless. The teams are just fantastic. They have punishing schedules but they made time for me and were generous and open about sharing knowledge. This spirit of generosity and sparkling energy is what makes their festival and their incredible building singularly brilliant."
Mr. Bailey, fashion is not distant from cinema but I can't help from notice the prim and proper suits and shoes that are on point. Would you like to share a few grooming tips to fellow artistic directors and probably tell them where you do your shopping?
"Ha! I would never presume to advise other artistic directors on their clothing, but what I have noticed is a signature style among some of my peers. I love the custom dresses that Clare Stewart at the BFI London Film Festival wears. Dieter Kosslick at the Berlinale is known for his dramatic scarves. I'm still working on mine."
Ms. Kiran, in 2014 MAMI faced a cash crunch and returned with a bang, is funding still a problem?
"As a festival we are constantly fundraising. The idea is to grow every year. We have all our basics covered. All thanks to our sponsors Jio and STAR India and all our other key partners and patrons. But we fund raise constantly because quality professionals and solid systems cost a lot of money. I hope more and more people start to see value in the space we are trying to create."
Mr. Bailey, you have seen quite a lot of Hindi cinemas. To pick one favorite would be unfair, which are your Top 3 favorite Hindi movies?
"I can't choose just three! I will say that I love the films of Guru Dutt, I'm wowed by the films of Farah Khan and I'm waiting patiently for a new film from Kiran Rao."
Mr. Bailey, do you think there is a drastic difference in the way women are presented in movies across the globe?
"I'm pleased to see more and more women in just about every country making the films they want to make, and on their terms. Financiers, distributors, critics and festivals have been slow to catch up, but now audiences are demanding to see stories told from the perspective that represents half the world. About time."
Ms. Kiran, what is in store at MAMI this year?
"There are a few new verticals we are launching this year which you will hear about soon. Things are firming up on that front. One of the biggest things we have done this year is launch our year round program. We will hold events throughout the year now under the MAMI Film Club and they will all lead up to the festival in October."