An august opening for Mumbai film fest

Mumbai, Oct 18 (IANS) In the presence of Bollywood celebrities such as Sonakshi Sinha, Tisca Chopra, Nandita Das and Divya Dutta, the 15th edition of Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) had a grand opening at the Liberty cinemas here.

Actress Sonakshi Sinha, who was invited as the special chief guest of the evening lit the ceremonial lamp along with delegates from France and filmmaker Shyam Benegal, chairman of organising body Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI).

Other filmmakers from around the world who were part of the ceremony included Bruce Beresford, Siddiq Barmark, Deepa Mehta, Waris Hussein, Roger Garcia and Asghar Farhadi along with Indian actress Konkona Sen Sharma.

Presented by Reliance Entertainment, the eight-day extravaganza has a line up of over 200 films from across the world with special focus on Spanish cinema, Cambodian and French cinema.

This year, French filmmaker Costa-Gavras, known for politically astute films, was handed over the lifetime achievement award along with Indian actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan. While the former was presented the award by Shyam Benegal, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan handed over the award to the latter.

"Awards like these give me the strength to continue making films," said 80-year old Gavras, and added, "I would like to see more Indian films in France going forward. We are working towards it".

Kamal Haasan, who received a standing ovation, dedicated the award to his mentor Tamil filmmaker K. Balachander.

"Many believe that Balachander discovered me, but I believe he invented me. It's because of teachers like him I'm successful and I dedicate this award to him," added Kamal.

Lee Daniel's historical fictional-drama "The Butler" starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, opened the festival.

The closing ceremony Oct 24 will screen Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate".