IFFM-2020 shines with 22,000 views in opening weekend; Moothon (Malayalam) to close fest on 30 October

Photo- Supplied

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 28 October: Film lovers across Australia have enthusiastically embraced this year’s online presentation of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne with over 22,000 film views achieved in just the opening weekend. The festival closes this Friday and is delighted to announce the South Indian Malayalam language title  MOOTHON (The Elder One) as the closing night film. The film will be available to stream from 6 pm till midnight on Friday 30 October.

IFFM Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange says, “It’s been heartening to see film lovers across the country engage so wholeheartedly with this year’s selection of films and donate to Festival partner Mental Health Foundation Australia so generously. We are delighted to present the beautiful and confronting MOOTHON by one of India’s finest female directors to close this year’s Festival.”

MOOTHON is directed by writer-director Geetu Mohandas whose previous film LIAR’S DICE received two National Film Awards, premiered at Sundance Film Festival, and was chosen by the Government of India as India's entry for the U.S. 87th Academy Awards.

MOOTHON had its World Premiere at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival and is a complex, multi-layered portrait of Mumbai told through the story of a young boy Mulla (Sanjana Dipu) who comes to Mumbai from Lakshadweep, to find his missing elder brother.

TIFF described the film as, “Alternating between scenes of bracing violence and heartbreaking tenderness, The Elder One is an epic story of familial bonds and underworld misadventure, infused with urgent questions regarding gender, sexuality, and tolerance. Mohandas presents us with an unsparing the vision of Mumbai as a place of decadence and ruthlessness while ensuring that, with enough love, tenacity, and courage, any place can be home.”

Another highlight of the closing night is the announcement of the 2020 Short Film Competition winner. The announcement will be made in an online event in partnership with Mental Health Foundation Australia.

‘Together’ is the theme of the 2020 IFFM Short Film Festival Competition which this year received a remarkable and unprecedented 3000+ entries indicating people’s creativity during the lockdown. The winning film is being judged by Varun Sharma, the Festival’s 2011 Short Film Competition winner who is making his directorial debut this year with a Bollywood mainstream film starring Rani Mukherji and Saif Ali Khan, produced by Yash Raj Studios. 

Over 7 days the festival has screened over 60 films in 17 languages, including 34 International Premieres and 56 Australian Premieres, available to audiences across Australia as the year’s festival has moved online.

All films in this year’s Festival are available for viewing free of charge across Australia till October 30. In recognition of the pressures, this year has placed on many people, IFFM has partnered with Mental Health Foundation Australia and encourages festival participants to donate to MHFA when booking.

To view the Festival program, and for booking guidelines go to:


Feminism is my worldview, I love writing also: Malayalam Director Anjali Menon


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 12 September: “It’s a part of who I am. It emerges. That’s my worldview.” says Anjali Menon, India’s National Award-winning Malayalam film Director Anjali Menon. She was answering to a question about her being a feminist at an IFFM Film Club interview cum interaction organized by the IFFM-2020 today.

Anjali Menon’s directional ventures include Kerala Café (2009), Manjadikuru (2012), Ustad Hotel (2012- Scriptwriter only), Bangalore Days (2014) among others. The grown-up in the UAE, a graduate of the London Film School, she lives in Bangalore.

Answering to a question about her blogs and short stories by South Asia Times (SAT), Anjali said, “I am a lazy writer but enjoy writing. It’s a question of word counts and a lot to learn. It’s a rich process to project one’s worldview.

It’s my great aspiration to write more and more.”


Replying to Rajeev Masand’s question about women in direction, she says, “The film industry is not the most representative in this regard. The perception they working there is negative.

A study on five film industries has been done on this subject and we know discrimination exists.

Also, once money comes gender goes away, but one has to see how women work. If you have to swim against the current, then you have to be a good swimmer.”

About her bias for family subjects she says, “The family is the molecule of society. It’s great playing ground. From within, I like family subjects.

Even dysfunctional families as a subject are more interesting.”

She answered many questions from Rajeev Masand and the participants. A few points that emerged:

- I am much more concerned about the subject;
- Hindi mainstream cinema is differently made but happy to work in Hindi;
- Streaming of movies has made them more accessible & regional movies have space.

The IFFM Film Club interaction with Anjali Menon saw more than 100 people participating including the Malayali diaspora in Australia. Big participation from other communities and cinema lovers gave the Zoom event a big boost to the popularity of the International Film Festival of India -2020 in its virtual presentation.

For more info- iffm.com.au

IFFM-2020 from October 30 to November 7


By SAT News Desk

Monday 29 June 2020: The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne today announced that this year’s festival will go ahead with dates rescheduled from August to late 2020 due to the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic.

IFFM 2020’s program will be devised in line with public health guidance with plans for a compact schedule taking place over a week from October 30 to November 7. The festival is retaining the Short Film Competition and the popular dance competition (to be held on October 31, pending easing of restrictions) but the much-anticipated IFFM Awards Gala will be postponed until 2021. More details of festival highlights will be announced shortly.


An exciting new innovation to the festival this year, in response to current challenges and opportunities, is the IFFM Film Club where fans of Indian movies can enroll for a virtual masterclass with leading filmmakers discussing their works in detail. This exciting new event is facilitated by noted journalist Rajeev Masand. Functioning like a book club, the festival asks participants to watch a classic film, and they then have an opportunity to discuss the film at the virtual film club with the filmmaker. The virtual talks are open for registration to festival-goers and accommodate 100 early bird users.

Previously, the festival has hosted masterclasses with acclaimed filmmakers including Raju Hirani, Rani Mukherjee, Karan Johar, Rima Das, Zoya Akhtar, Onir, Vijay Sethupathi, Nag Ashwin, Kabir Khan, and many others. With the launch of this year’s Film Club, IFFM continues to celebrate the spirit of diversity through cinema.

IFFM Festival Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange says, “This is a uniquely intimate way for film lovers to stay engaged, entertained and educated while at home in these unprecedented times. We already have a strong line up of filmmakers from various parts of India. Well-known film journalist Rajeev Masand will moderate the session as he opens the film and its maker to a world of questions from curious fans.”

The Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley says: “Social distancing doesn’t mean social disconnection and through the screen, we can continue to be inspired by stories and perspectives from across the globe. I applaud the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne team for its commitment to continuing to bring the IFFM spirit to film lovers and for pivoting to a new model for 2020 in response to these challenging times.”

In 2019 the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne celebrated its tenth anniversary. In February this year pre-COVID, IFFM hosted an event in Mumbai where Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan awarded the 4-year scholarship named after him to Gopika Kottantharayil Bhasi from Thrissur (Kerala), as a part of the festival’s long association with Melbourne’s La Trobe University. Now faced with restrictions and new opportunities the IFFM team is working hard to develop new exciting elements to the year’s festival while ensuring the safety of festival attendees.

The magic of cinema will never fade away: Shoojit Sircar & Ronnie Lahiri

Photo- MBF

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 18 June 2020: Director Shoojit Sarkar and Producer Ronnie Lahairi whose Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurana starrer is making global waves on the streaming service Amazon Prime, remain committed to the magic of cinema which they feel will never fade away.

The two cinema icons were recently participating in the inaugural IFFM Film Club on Zoom organized by the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2020, and hosted by Rajeev Masand. Their film Gulabo Sitabo is one of the first mainstream Indian movies to release exclusively on a streaming service.

Rajeev Masand, Mitu Bhowmick Lange, Shoojit Sircar & Ronnie Lahiri. Photos- MBF

Answering to a question by SAT Editor, Neeraj Nanda, Saoojit Sarkar said, “The magic of cinema will never fade away. When the lockdown opens up, it is normal human behavior to watch something at a stadium, a tennis match, cricket or a movie in a cinema. This because human behavior is to come together and cinema magic will remain.”

“And, of course, streaming services being a new evolution will co-exist with cinema, he said.

Ronnie Lahari said, “We are a community of people and enjoy when we are with a lot of people. That’s not happening when you are watching on a streaming service. These are unrepresented times and we took a decision to release Gulabo Sitabi on the basis of the current situation.”

“It’s not that all our films will be on streaming services. As soon as the lockout opens I will be happy to release my next film on the big screen where everyone can watch it together,” he said.

The IFFM Film Club interview and interaction with Saoojit Sarkar & Ronnie Lahari event on zoom on the eve of the release of Gulabo Sitabo attracted massive participation from across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Host Rajeev Masand’s penetrating questions and interesting questions from participants added to the glory of the unusual but lively and informative interaction. Kudos to IFFM CEO Mitu Bhowmick Lange and the Mind Blowing Films team for this exceptional digital experience. SEE FULL VIDEO BELOW:

Mitu Bhowmick joins Natalie Miller Fellowship

Mitu Bhowmick Lange (File photo)

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 29 February 2020: Natalie Miller Fellowship (NMF) recently announced the appointment of Mitu Bhowmick to the NMF committee. The Melbourne-based role will see Bhowmick join existing committee members Sue Maslin AO, Sandra Sdraulig AM, Julia Adams, Aida Innocente, Heather Webb, Stephanie Mills, Cheryl Mulholland, Fiona Nix, Heather Scott, Cate Smith, Michael Smith, and Kimberly Summer.

The Natalie Miller Fellowship is about recognizing and nurturing the next generation of female leaders in the Australian screen community and inspiring them to reach the very top of their fields.

The NMF aims to equip our future female leaders with the skills, knowledge, and insight to take on bigger and more challenging opportunities. The NMF awards a fellowship grant of up to $20,000 to a woman working in the industry to help further her professional development through educational programs such as internships, attachments or secondments.

Mitu started her career directing television shows in Bombay for major channels before she migrated to Australian in 2002. Continuing her career progression, she became an in-line producer on major Bollywood productions shot in Victoria, as well as producing blockbusters filmed in across the country. In 2010, Mitu filled the much-needed demand for Indian content in Australia by founding the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Still going strong, the festival brings the best of Bollywood, documentary, shorts, and drama from regions across India and Asia, with a strong emphasis on diverse storytelling.

Mitu continues to focus on showcasing the best of Indian cinema to hungry Australian audiences as well as being a proactive and inspiring woman-of-color in the Australian Screen Industry. Mitu is also the founder and director of Mind Blowing Films – the leading distributor of Indian films in Australia, NZ, and Fiji, releasing over 42 films a year. She is also the founder and Director of the iconic Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.