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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



MISMFF 2022, 01: Film fest returns to the Mysterious, Magical Mountains of Mestia, Georgia

MISMFF 2022, 01: Film fest returns to the Mysterious, Magical Mountains of Mestia, Georgia

Confession: I had not heard about Mestia at all till I learnt about the Mestia International Short & Mountain Film Festival (MISMFF). And it is already in its second edition! So, where is Mestia? Mestia is a municipality, a ‘townlet’ in western Georgia, in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. Mestia, as well as the whole Svaneti, has a very old history. Distinguished by its amazing, beautiful nature and abundance of cultural monuments, the stunning and unforgettable beauty of Svaneti, the Peak of Ushba, the highest peak of Georgia, Shkhara, a waterfall flowing from the rocks and the alpine lakes, almost as blue as the sky. From my location in Mumbai, it is 3,878 kms.

Picture by Vakho Naveriani

It is also home to high glaciers and rocks that have been tamed by Mikheil Khergiani, and other great Svan climbers. Mestia is a great example of the rich and diverse Georgian culture. The Svan towers were used by the famous Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki, in one of his famous anime -Laputa: Castle in the sky. Mestia is an excellent place for lovers of relaxation in the mountains, both in summer and in winter, with ski resorts like Hatsvali and Tetnuldi.

Mestia International Short & Mountain Film Festival is back, and a treat awaits all those who make it to this adventurous event in a country known for its hospitality. Fabulous aesthetics, harmony and at the same time the divine austerity of Svaneti have always served as an irresistible attraction for cinematographers. The festival is scheduled to officially take place during 17-21 August, as an on-location event, while offering an online format as well, making it a hybrid event. It offers a multi-faceted programme, the red carpet, special audience and amazing team of jury members.

And MISMFF’s Focus Nation, in 2022, is, guess…., which else, but Ukraine! Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, also spelt Kyiv, is about 2,000 kms from Mestia. But film is a medium that traverses immeasurable distance and reaches out to audiences across the globe.

Follow the regular coverage of MISMFF in this column.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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