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46th International Film Festival Of India 2015

Curtain Raiser Press Conference of IFFI 2015

It’s that time of the year again.

Sandwiched between the Kesarbai Kerkar, pharm Pravah and Swaramangesh classical music programs, and the Goa Art and Literary Festival, is the IFFI, 20th– 30th  November, when I won’t be taking calls will seldom be checking the mail. In case anyone thinks watching films is fun, let me assure you that covering an international film festival is hard work. 3-5 films a day, a master-class or an interview thrown in, come home and write about it.

I wouldn’t miss it for anything. This year’s Indian films’ bouquet has the Tamil ‘Radiopetti’ and the Konkanni ‘Nachoiya Kumpasar’ on my list. For the first time, I’m going to see a Sanskrit film, ‘Priyamanasam’. ‘Masaan’ on life in Varanasi, too, if I can. I might skip the non-feature films because quite often I get to see them later on television. Still, ‘Sadabahar Brass Band’ might be worth queuing up for.

My armchair travel for this season is to Spain. The master film-makers Carlos Saura and Pedro Almadovar’s films will be presented. Also Alejandro Amenabar. I won’t miss Leticia Dolera’s debut film ‘Requirements to be a Normal Person’.

This year’s treats will be in ‘First Cut’, a new section that will showcase films of debut film-makers from around the world. My choices from that list are: Bulgarian Georgi Balabanov’s ‘The Petrov File’, Armenian A Shahbazyan’s ‘Moskvich, my Love’ and Polish Piotr Chrzan’s ‘Klezmer’.

The Indian north-eastern section will be seen time-permitting, Aribam Shyam Sharma’s retrospective in particular.

Five films have been shortlisted for the ICFT Prize- UNESCO Fellini Medal. The IFFI 2015 in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris, will award the medal awarded to a film which reflects the ideals promoted by UNESCO.

Anil Kapoor, the Chief Guest of the opening ceremony, will flag off 87 films from 89 countries in the International Section and 26 feature and 21 non-feature films in the Indian Panorama. If I get a pass, I won’t miss Mathew Brown’s opening film on the mathematician Ramanujan: ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’.

The International Competition will have 15 films including two films from Indian Panorama section. The jury for International Competition includes Chairperson Shekhar Kapur along with Michael Radford, Julia Jentsch, Suha Arraf and Jeon Kyu-Hwan. 

Besides watching films, I intend to attend the seminar on Film and Cultural diversity and the master classes with eminent Academy members Mark Mangini, Milt Shefter and Humphrey Dixon on topics like sound designing, film archive and film editing.

In ‘In Conversation’, Indian filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Vettrimaran, Kaushik Ganguli and Anand L Rai will discuss the art of filmmaking. Also looking forward to ‘World Cinema Restored Classics’ that will highlight film restoration.

This 46th edition of IFFI is getting more global by the year. It’s Asia’s biggest film festival, organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, I&B Ministry, the Government of India and the State Government of Goa. IFFI is “an endeavor to understand the various social and cultural ethos through the eyes of cinema. Moving from the artistic centers of Asia to the cinematic arena of the world, the festival’s founding principles focus on discovery, promotion and support of filmmaking of all genres, thus bringing together the diversity of the forms, aesthetics and contents.”

Right now, the registration has been done online. I will have to visit the Entertainment Society of Goa office to collect my pass, the schedules and brochures two days before the event begins. I will peruse them thoroughly and mark out what I want to see. Sometimes the online booking is ‘houseful’ even before I’ve opened the window on my screen. So I prefer to stand in the queues, chat will fellow standees and get whichever tickets are available. There’s another queue to get into the theatre whether or not one has a ticket, so socializing in the sun is part of the festivities. One gets to meet students of cinema, professionals from other states who visit Goa just for this festival, retired folk who are living their dream of seeing pre-selected ‘foreign’ films and freelancers wondering how to juggle the minutes before typing and mailing 700 words.

Here’s to IFFI…, to 10 days of armchair travel and intellectual stimulation.