Toronto International Film Festival's City To City Program Shines A Spotlight On Mumbai (PHOTOS)

This year at the Toronto International Film Festival, the City to City program will be shining a spotlight on the Mumbai film industry. Showcasing 10 films created by individuals working and living in Mumbai, the festival's 2012 lineup aims to introduce audiences to local independent filmmakers whose urban experiences show a different side of Mumbai than the glitzy movies originating in Bollywood.

This is the fourth edition of the Festival's City to City program, which has featured a different international filmmaking locale every year. The past three years have brought works from Tel Aviv, Istanbul and Buenos Aires, but this year the festival has chosen India's most populous city as its global focal point. Mumbai, or Bollywood, has long been known as the center of the Hindu movie industry, but its entertainment landscape has lately been undergoing a transformation. “The rise of independent cinema has shifted the terrain, probing into previously taboo subjects and adopted styles that were earlier unpalatable to the Indian audience,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Festival in the press release today. “Mumbai’s film industry is going through a significant change and a strong group of new filmmakers has emerged.”

Many of the films featured in the City to City program do confront taboo themes of violence, political dissatisfaction, and sexual exploitation. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap's "Gangs of Wasseypur" depicts the historical role of criminal clans in India while Hansal Mehta's "Shahid" addresses human rights abuses related to Muslim minorities living in the country. Features like "Mumbai's King," by Manjeet Singh and "Peddlers," by Vasan Bala, similarly portray the poverty and illegal underground activity of Mumbai's streets. For most of the Indian filmmakers participating in the festival, the screening of their works marks the first time the films will be screened in North America, and for some, the world.

The 37th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 to 16, 2012. For a full list of the 10 films featured in the City to City program, check the Toronto International Film Festival's website.