The 11th Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), organized by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) began last night in the city with the opening ceremony held at Fun Cinema, Andheri. It was a night to remember with the who’s who of world and Indian cinema gracing the event with their presence. The festival was inaugurated by the Information and Broadcasting Minister. Ambika Soni. A visibly impressed Mrs. Soni said, “Indian Cinema has made significant contribution to the nation’s growth rate. The film industry’s concerns are the concerns of my ministry.” Once the action moved from the red carpet to inside the venue, the crowd was pleasantly surprised to see that the emcees for the night were the two whiz kids of Bollywood, Farhan Akhtar and Karan Johar, who were both at their enthralling best. Farhan invited the Chairman of MAMI, Shyam Benegal who gave the welcome speech. Benegal said, “I am extremely happy to see all our guests present here today. With around 200 films from 56 countries being a part of the festival, I promise everyone the chance to watch some of the best talents the medium has to offer.” Later filmmaker Yash Chopra was felicitated by Benoit Ginisty, from the Federation Internationale des Associatons de producteurs de Films (FIAPF) for Outstanding Achievement in Film. An elated Chopra said, “Such appreciation for one’s work is always a very humbling experience. I am happy that God has given me the strength and the ability to make films for so many years and I will continue to do so till my last breath.” The MFF Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Shashi Kapoor for an outstanding career spanning six decades. Kapoor said, “I thank the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image and Reliance Big Entertainment for considering my name for this award. These would be some of the most cherished moments of my life.” The highlight of the night was the screening of Matt Damon starrer The Informant directed by Academy-Award Winning Steven Soderbergh. The film is a dark political comedy based on true events and the 2000 non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. Films in competition will be viewed on 8 screens at Fun Cinemas (Andheri), Metro BIG Cinemas (Marine Lines) & BIG Cinemas R City (Ghatkopar) and judged by MFF 2009 Jury Members including: renowned Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, American Gigolo), Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Philippine filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, Indian filmmaker Shaji N. Karun and former Director of Locarno Film Festival Irene Bignardi. This year MFF carries one of the richest cash awards for its International Competition for Directors who are Debuting Feature Films with a cash prize of US$ 100,000 (approx. Rs. 50, 00,000).