[VoxSpace Selects] 30 Essential Films You Should Not Miss At JIO MAMI 2019

An Avenue to Educate The Public About Film Appreciation 

Film festivals are like concerts but for people who don’t like to scream. I believe they are absolutely essential for two reasons. One to bring out new talent and get them familiarized with the film fraternity. The other is to educate the audience on the art of film appreciation. It also helps us understand better the trends that have proven popular the world around. Jio MAMI’s Mumbai International Film Festival is easily one of the biggest and most essential film festivals in India. If you are attending and don’t really know what films to check out. Here is a comprehensive list of 30 essential films to check at the festival.

The Lodge:

The Lodge marks the sophomore effort by the Austrian film-making duo, who sent tremors through the horror community with their incredibly creepy yet subdued masterpiece Goodbye Mommy. With The Lodge, they are touching on similar themes of Pedophobia, isolation, and claustrophobia. Here’s hoping the second effort is as atmospheric and disturbing as the first.

Family Romance, LLC:

The latest from the extremely prolific and eccentric Werner Herzog looks as experimental as ever. The film follows the story of a man who is hired to impersonate the missing father of a 12-year-old girl. The most interesting fact about the film is that it is cast fully with non-professional first-time actors in Japanese speaking roles.

Honey Boy:

Honey Boy is an autobiographical film about Shia LeBeouf’s childhood and his troubled relationship with his father. The film is written by Shia LeBeouf and he plays the character of his father in the film. The film seems like a very interesting and introspective take on the biopic genre by making the subject of the film the writer too. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Marriage Story:

Noah Baumbach is one of those rare film-makers who still primarily points his camera towards human emotions and drama. While most of his movies have huge A-list casts, his sensibilities stay very art-house. With his latest film, he turns his gaze towards divorce and the grueling process that it entails. The primary cast includes names like Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda. The film has also been getting universal acclaim ever since its premiere at Venice Film Festival.

Pain and Glory:

This is one of the most acclaimed films of the year ever since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film won the best actor and best soundtrack awards. The slightly autobiographical film follows A film director reflecting on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him. Coming from one of the undoubted masters of cinema, Pedro Almodóvar, I cannot wait for this dramatic deep dive into guilt and love.

Wild Goose Lake:

Diao Yinan is one of China’s most interesting filmmakers. He specializes in really cool procedural crime chillers. His last film Black Coal, Thin Ice won The Golden Bear Awards at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival. Wild Goose Lake tells the story of A gangster on the run who sacrifices everything for his family and a woman he meets while on the lam. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and competed for the prestigious Palme d’Or award.


Tommaso the story of an American artist living in Rome with his young European wife and their 3-year-old daughter. This is the latest feature form the controversial and provocative American filmmaker Abel Ferrara. The most interesting thing about the film is the casting of Willen Dafoe, who is having a career resurgence in the last couple of years. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the special screenings section.

Young Ahmed:

Young Ahmed is the latest from the French film-making duo, the Dardenne brothers. The film revolves around a young Belgian boy who plots to murder his teacher in the name of his religion. The filmmakers who are known for the emotional complexity and social awareness in their films are tackling a very interesting and relevant issue in society now. The film competed for the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.


Axone is an Indian comedy that follows northeastern migrants in Delhi, in their attempt to organize a wedding party. The title refers to a northeastern delicacy. The film is directed by Nicholas Kharkongor and the cast includes Sayani Gupta, Vinay Pathak and a bunch of upcoming actors. The film had its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival to great acclaim.


Cargo is a sci-fi fantasy film, which is being billed as India’s first-ever spaceship sci-fi film. The film stars Vikranth Massey as Prahastha, a demon who works at the post-death transition services on a space station orbiting earth alongside his colleague Shweta Tripathi. The film is being helmed by Arati Kadav who previously made waves with her brilliant short film, Time Machine. The film is being produced by Anurag Kashyap, with a number of other people. With the talent that is part of the project in front of and behind the camera, this is absolutely one of the most anticipated films of the festival. The film is having its world premiere at MAMI.

Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi:

This is the directorial debut from the effortlessly brilliant actress Seema Bhargava. The film follows a family that needs to get together for a ritual due to a death. As time passes their insecurities begin to come to the surface. The film has an insanely good cast consisting of Naseeruddin Shah, Supriya Pathak, Konkona Sensharma, Parambrata Chatterjee, Vinay Pathak, Vikrant Massey, Manoj Pahwa. The film is having its world premiere at MAMI.


Aadhaar is the latest from the acclaimed Bengali filmmaker, Suman Ghosh. The film stars Vineet Kumar Singh, who is the first one in his village to get his Aadhaar card made. The film seems very relevant to our times in India now and the teaser really gives off a certain feeling of truth. The film had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival.

Roam Rome Mein:

The film marks the directorial debut of the acclaimed Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee. The story follows 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. The film was premiered at the Busan International Film Festival.


Sun is an interesting and quirky film about culture shock and music. The film follows Sun, a 30-year-old delivery man, who lives a frantic life in modern Paris. This precarious but happy balance is jeopardized when his Indian cousin arrives in France to pursue his dream: playing sitar at the Olympia. The film stars the popular comedian and singer Aadar Malik as one of the leads.

The Illegal:

The Illegal is a deeply touching drama starring the immensely talented Suraj Sharma. The film tells 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. The film is directed by Danish Renzu who has made a name for himself in the film festival circuit. The film is going to have its Asia premiere at MAMI.

The Last Color:

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 yearns to play with colors on the occasion of Holi, but Noor and the other widows are held back by tradition. The film marks Vikas Khanna’s debut as a director and it stars Neena Gupta as the lead. This film was extensively shot in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh of India.

Les Miserables:

Les Misérables is a 2019 French drama film directed and co-written by Ladj Ly, based on his short film of the same name. Inspired by the riots of 2005 in the Paris suburbs, the film revolves around three members of an anti-crime brigade who are overrun while trying to make an arrest. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It is also the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

That Cloud Never Left:

The film is an abstract docu-fiction that follows a bunch of children on various interesting and quirky adventures. The 65-minute film is made by the multi-faceted artist Yashaswini Raghunandan. The film has visited various film festivals to universal acclaim and is having its India premiere at this year’s MAMI.

Gamak Ghar:

Gamak Ghar is an Indian drama film that follows a Bihari family over the course of two decades as they meet for various festivals and other occasions. The film very interestingly touches upon the need for people and family in one’s life and the vacuum it can create with the lack of them. The film is shot by Anand Bansal, and written, directed & produced by the self-taught filmmaker and photographer Achal Mishra. The film is having its world premiere at MAMI this year.

Bitter Chestnut:

Bitter Chestnut is the latest from the acclaimed filmmaker from Punjab. His previous two films Chauthi Koot and Anhe Ghore Da Daan, have won various awards including the prestigious national award. His films are known for their emotional potency and realism in depicting conflicted characters. His latest film decidedly has a lighter subject that is dealing with. The film had its premiere at the Busan International Film Festival to rave reviews.

Bombay Rose:

Bombay Rose is a 2019 Indian animated film written, edited, designed and directed by Gitanjali Rao. The film follows the story of a flower seller falling in love. It is made by frame-by-frame painted animation in-computer and took 18 months with 60 artists. The film had its world premiere at International Critics Week at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.


Moothon is an intense crime drama from Geethu Mohandas, who had previously made the slice of life road movie Liar’s Dice. The film follows A 10-year-old boy living on an island who sets off on a journey in pursuit of Akbar, his long-lost elder brother. While Rajeev Ravi, the ace cinematographer provides the breath-taking and gritty visuals for the movie, Anurag Kashyap provides the razor sharp and raw dialogue. The cast includes talents like Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipala, Dileesh Pothan, Shashank Arora, etc. It is my most anticipated film at the festival.

Aani Maani:

This a really cool little film about class-divide and religion in our country. The film focusses on a lower-middle-class family, whose patriarch and breadwinner who owns a beef kebab shop in UP. When the UP government announces a beef, wee see from close proximity, how it negatively affects them. Fahim Irshad, who is a Muslim film-maker form UP, seems like he put a lot of real-life experiences and observations into this melancholic film.

Bitter Tree (Kajro):

This is a film I was purely sold by the premise. This depressing film deals with Tigya, who belongs to an ‘untouchable caste’. When his ailing wife passes away during the Dussehra procession, he forced to leave the village with hid dead wife’s body. The film feels like an extremely sad but well-observed cautionary tales about some of the outdated but deep-rooted issues that still plague rural areas in our country.


Aamis is a film that has been getting a lot of buzz, ever since its premiere. It follows an unusual couple who embark on a journey of experimenting with food and their relationship, which takes a very dark turn. This twisted tale comes from the mind of Bhaskar Hazarika, who has had over 18 years of experience in film, television and digital media. This marks his second film, Kothanodi, being his first.

Eeb Allay Ooo! :

Eeb Ally Ooo! is an absurdist comedy that focuses on a young migrant who is hired as a monkey repeller. The film is the first feature film by Prateek who had previously made a very intriguing documentary called A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Hope he continues his streak of interesting human stories; he is someone to look out for.

A Thing of Magic:

A Thing of Magic is a quirky little film about the power of imagination. The story follows Gundu Kaakka, a harmonium player who presents his sisters with a pair of 3-d glasses that he believes have magical powers. This film comes from the mind of the first-time filmmaker Nithin Anil.

Slow Burn:

Slow burn is a slice of life drama about a young Punjabi man Amanpreet, who is forced to move to New Delhi to find a job. The film seems to capture the feeling of loneliness in a city filled with people and noises all around. The film made by Sunit Sinha, a seasoned actor who is making his feature film debut with this film.

The Musk:

The musk is a small-town drama that touches on themes like loss of innocence and caste system in Indian society. The film focusses on a 14-year-old boy Gopinath who comes from a family of manual scavengers and his journey to obtain Kastoori, an Indian musk, whose divine scent has been described in the Hindu mythological stories he likes listening to.

The Wayfarers:

Wayfarers is a social drama made by the acclaimed film-maker and cinematographer, Goutam Ghose. The film follows three extremely poor people in rural India, who inadvertently cross each other’s paths and help each other in unexpected ways. The film had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival to critical acclaim