With the 47th International Film Festival starting today, there is a lot a film buff can choose from. Here is a curtain raiser and an idea of what one can look forward to this year
It is that time of the year when the magic of cinema will be celebrated in all its glory as the 47th edition of the International Film Festival of India is all set to roll. The festival which went on for the duration of ten days earlier has now been curtailed to eight days and the jury is out whether the decision is for the better or worse. Prima facie, it appears to make sense because few delegates stay for the whole course of the festival and even for film buffs fatigue starts setting in at some point.
For all the good, bad and ugly things that IFFI has been labelled, the one thing that cannot be ignored is the quality of films at IFFI – it has been consistently impressive. For instance, apart from the major award winning films from various festivals, there were 26 films last year which were submissions from the respective countries at the Academy Awards. This year the number stands at 23, more than any other festival in the country. Apart from that, there are 10 international and world premieres and more than 20 Asian premieres, which is an impressive number.
There was a time when Indian Panorama used to showcase the best of Indian cinema, but that is no longer the case. For several years, thanks to lobbying and partisan selections the quality of Indian films in the Panorama has dropped or the films are selected a bit late in the day. Films like Killa, Court, Thithi, Visaranai that were selected at International festivals, premiered at MAMI first in India and made it to the Indian Panorama only a year later. One can’t think of the last time when the Panorama actually discovered or selected a film before it became big.
To the credit of the organisers, the film selection was declared in advance unlike the past, where one had to dig in information till the last moment. But all this should be the norm and not an exception considering that it has been more than a decade since the festival moved to Goa – long enough not to have any teething problems now.
Ultimately, what matters at the festival is the film and film related activities. On that count, IFFI promises a buffet where there is something for everyone. With the festival shortened to eight days a lot of fluff in terms of tributes and homages has been cut down and that’s a positive step. Whether it is life or films it is better to have quality rather than quantity.
The two special tributes this year are from the top draw –Abbas Kiarostami the Iranian filmmaker who made an indelible mark on cinema passed away earlier this year and his best films like Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us and Ten are a part of the package. The legendary Polish film maker Andrzej Wajda, whose last film AfterImage will open IFFI this year, also has a special tribute with some his top notch films like Ashes and Diamonds, Man of Iron, The Promised Land and Katyn.
The Masterstrokes and Festival Kaleidoscope covers almost all major films that made news at film festivals around the world. The notable omissions in this category are Pablo Larrain’s brilliantly scripted and directed, Neruda (last year IFFI missed out on The Club by the same director) and Werner Herzog’s two documentaries Into the Inferno and Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World.
But the festival programming has made up for the documentary omissions with the section Documenting the Legends – Fritz Lang, Toshiro Mifune, Stanley Kubrick, Richard Linklater – these names are enough to arouse curiosity among serious film buffs and these films could well be one of the highlights.
The Cinema of the World section comprises of the largest chunk of films and while there are other festivals in the country that focus on award winning films, IFFI also picks up some from the second tier which may have missed the bus when it comes to awards at festivals but are still good enough to make the cut. (For our detailed picks at the festival turn to page 3).
Now, let the movies begin.