Mumbai Film Festival postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus

'2020 is about survival, introspection and humility'

A handout movie still of Thithi (Courtesy: Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival) *** Local Caption ***  al29oc-mumba-fest05.jpg
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This year's Mumbai Film Festival has been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis in India, with confirmed cases nearing two million in the country.

The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image, which organises the festival, made the announcement on Tuesday. The academy said its decision was due to "the devastating pain and suffering across the country".

The festival was scheduled to take place in November, but India has been hit by widespread outbreaks of Covid-19. It currently has the third-highest number of cases in the world, after the US and Brazil, with 1.9 million people infected and 39,795 deaths as of Wednesday, according to John Hopkins University data.

"It is our responsibility to do everything we can to keep our communities safe during this crisis,"  said Isha Ambani, who is on the board of trustees at Mami, in a statement. "We promise that the festival will come back with fullness in spirit and enthusiasm for our beloved city of Mumbai."

Programming for the 22nd festival, however, will continue, and the event's selection committee are prepared to announce the official roster of films this month.

Much like other cultural events and institutions around the world, Mami has turned to virtual initiatives to reach audiences during the pandemic. Collaborating with streaming service Mubi, Mami will screen films online.

The academy has also launched a digital series, Dial M for Films, which features discussions with professionals in the industry on the process of filmmaking.

"The world is grappling with a global calamity," festival director Anupama Chopra said, in a statement. "2020 is about survival, introspection and humility.

"We have decided to prioritise healing this year and hold the festival in its full splendour next year."

Chopra said the team’s focus will be on building its “digital imprint”.

New dates for the 2021 event have not yet been announced.