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Q&A With Ritesh Batra: Director of the Film “The Lunchbox”

Director Ritesh Batra’s debut feature film, The Lunchbox, a charming epistolary romance set in Mumbai, is steeped in nostalgia. As it traces an unlikely relationship between a curmudgeonly widower, Saajan (Irrfan Khan) and a neglected housewife, Ila (Nimrat Kaur)—all triggered by a delivery mistake, courtesy of the city’s supposedly foolproof lunch couriers, or dabbawallahs—the film also showcases the many faces of Mumbai: a frenetic, resilient, and monsoon-pelted metropolis.

While The Lunchbox has already captured hearts outside its native India, thanks to a splashy international premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival (it also screened at the Sundance Film Festival last month), it hits select theaters in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow (February 28th).

T+L caught up with Batra, who regularly shuttles between Mumbai and New York, to discuss his adventures in filmmaking.

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Inside Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson's Latest Film

Director Wes Anderson takes T+L on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Grand Budapest Hotel, his latest film opening Mar. 7. 

For his new release—which stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Ralph Fiennes as a debonair hotel concierge—Wes Anderson traveled though Eastern Europe on a hunt for set locations and characters. “I like working abroad because the whole process is an adventure, and it’s the most fun way to learn about a place,” he said. One takeaway: “Prague has been all cleaned up, but Budapest still has a little bit of a time-warp feeling.” Known for creating meticulously crafted sets and fictional worlds, the filmmaker borrowed references from Ernst Lubitsch musicals, Jugendstil architecture, and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain for his own version of a grand hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. Here, a view from the director’s chair.

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Movies + Travel Twitter Chat on Tuesday, February 25

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A great film can transport the viewer to a different time and place. When it comes to travel, we all have that one movie scene that will forever invoke the desire to visit or revisit a destination (Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, anyone?). To get ready for the 86th Academy Awards, we'll be discussing how movies can inspire travel with experts this Tuesday, February 25th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. Join along in the chat!

The Hosts:

Sarah Spagnolo, T+L Special Correspondent & New Media Editor, @SarahSpagnolo

Marguerite Suozzi, Associate Research Editor, @maggiesuozzi

Lindsey Olander, Editorial Assistant, @lindseytravels

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Star-Studded Santa Barbara Film Festival Celebrates its 29th Year

Last week, T+L was in Santa Barbara for the 29th-annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, an 11-day celebration with panel discussions, nearly 200 film screenings, and tribute events that honor Academy-Award frontrunners and mega-watt celebrities, including Cate Blanchett, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Redford, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

We hit the red carpet before the Virtuosos Awards, asking breakout stars for their bucket list travel picks. The answers? June Squibb (in Nebraska) plans for a Hawaii respite and a Japanese animation-inspired trip to Japan for Michael B. Jordan, star of Fruitvale Station. (Watch the video above for more.)

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Sunday Night Movies Go Luxe at Le Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris

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Eyebrows were raised in October, when Luc Besson’s luxe First movie theater opened in the new Aeroville mall near Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris. For €25, First gives you a spacious leather seat, a smoked salmon and tarama snack, and a flute of Champagne, orderable from a seatside tablet. “Mais c’est la crise!” said the local press, unsure whether such luxuries make sense as France’s economy remains sluggish.

Such questions do not trouble the hotel Le Royal Monceau Raffles, in Paris’s tony 8th arrondissement, with a clientele to match. Here an even posher proposition awaits the film buff, in the private screening room of the Philippe Starck-designed five-star: the just-debuted Sunday Night Film Club.

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Travel Inspired by Holiday Movies 2013

Holiday Movies 2013: Mandela

In this season’s hottest film releases, the settings nearly upstage the stars.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Headliners:
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Backdrop:
Another dystopian tournament, another paradisiacal setting (this time it’s Hawaii).
Scene Stealer:
Katniss and her rivals battle it out by Kawela Bay, on Oahu’s North Shore.
Inspired?
Stay where the cast reportedly did: Turtle Bay Resort ($$).

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (pictured)
Headliners:
Idris Elba, Naomie Harris
Backdrop:
The biopic, which features Elba (The Wire) in the title role, was filmed on location throughout South Africa.
Scene Stealer:
Idyllic KwaZulu-Natal, where the activist’s wedding to Winnie Madikizela was shot.
Inspired?
Visit Robben Island, where Mandela spent 18 years.

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How to Relive the Hunger Games in Atlanta

Want to walk (or run frantically) in the footsteps of Katniss and Peeta? Consider venturing to Atlanta, the primary filming location for Hunger Games: Cathing Fire, which opened last night.

The city's convention and visitors bureau has prepared a self-guided, two-day Hunger Games Tour. The CVB even recommends a hotel: The Marriott Marquis, where multiple scenes were shot.

Braver souls might consider the Hunger Games Unoffical Fan Tours, which run Adventure Weekends recreating the book and film trilogy's creepy competition. The weekends include themed accommodations, survival training, a gala banquet, themed food, archery tag, and a Hunger Games simulation. Details of what exactly the simulation entails are scarce—all the better to keep participating Tributes on their guard.

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Movie Buff's Dream Getaway: 20 Film Settings Around the World in 90 Days

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Imagine having Breakfast at Tiffany’s to fuel up for an afternoon adventure in Petra, Indiana Jones-style? Then ending the day with a dreamy sunset on The Beach in Thailand? Hardcore (wealthy) movie buffs can now live out their dreams with a 90-day itinerary by Very First To. The extensive trip—which visits 20 famous film sets across 10 countries—costs a hefty $321,000. But the price tag does come with perks: business-class flights for two for the full three months; overnight stays in lavish hotels like London’s The Savoy and the Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.; and of course, serious bragging rights.

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Video: Europe at Night

NIGHTVISION from Luke Shepard on Vimeo.

A couple of years back I shared a dreamy video of Paris by photographer Luke Shepard on this blog.

He recently released a new video, and dare I say, it's even better.

Luke traveled to 36 cities in 21 countries across Europe and shot more than 20,000 photographs to create this film called Nightvision. He describes it as a "celebration of the brilliant and diverse architecture found across Europe."

See it for yourself.

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Video courtesy of Luke Shepard.

Top 5 Mistakes That Led to French Riviera Hotel Jewel Heist

By now you've heard about the theft of $153 million in jewels on Sunday from an exhibition at the Carlton InterContinental Hotel in Cannes, on the French Riviera.

The Carlton (go to 0:55 in the film clip, above) was the setting for the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock thriller To Catch A Thief, starring Cary Grant as a reformed diamond thief who is suspected of returning to his old ways. In the movie, the real thief is nabbed by Grant during a hot pursuit. In real life, the Carlton bijou bandit is still at large.

Here are five reasons why Lucky Pierre, the latest Cat Burglar of Cannes, has so far been successful in what may turn out to be the largest jewelry heist in history.

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