MUMBAI – Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Hero, Raise the Red Lantern) received a standing ovation as he was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the opening ceremony of the 14th Mumbai Film Festival Thursday. MFF is organized by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images and co-presented by Reliance Entertainment. “I have always believed that cinema is a bridge between cultures”, said Zhang in his acceptance speech, adding, “I thank MAMI for appreciating my efforts and acknowledging my small contribution towards cinema. This is not the end but only the beginning.”
Zhang was given the award by MFF patron and former actress Tina Ambani. She is the wife of Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance ADAG (which is equal partners with DreamWorks). The festival was inaugurated with a traditional lamp lighting ceremony featuring veteran Bollywood actresses Sridevi and Jaya Bachchan.
The festival opened with a screening of Silver Linings Playbook which features acclaimed Indian actor Anupam Kher who introduced the film. The MFF audience was also greeted by the film’s lead Bradley Cooper via a recorded video message. The 1,000-plus crowd erupted with applause as Cooper signed off by saying “Ganpati Bappa Morya,” a traditional salutation for the Hindu god Ganesha.
MFF runs until Oct. 25 and will close with Spanish film Blancanieves by Pablo Berger. This year’s event is being held at the National Center for Performing Arts in south Mumbai along with other cinemas in the city. “We hope the NCPA can become a permanent venue for the festival,” said MAMI chairman and acclaimed director Shyam Benegal during his opening speech.
In the past, MFF has conferred lifetime achievement awards on Oliver Stone and Morgan Freeman.