At the half way mark of the festival, it has been a mixed bag so far. As far as the delegates are concerned, the numbers have been just about steady and considering that the weekend is around the corner, the count is likely to go up substantially. The jury is out on whether demonetisation has had any effect on the number of outstation delegates attending the festival.
On the organisation front, the number of delegates is just right at the moment for the festival to run smoothly. The theatres are quite full and audiences know their cinema as was amply proved by the crowds that thronged to watch Ashgar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’ the other day. Unfortunately, there is no repeat screening of the Iranian film which raises serious questions about the scheduling of films at IFFI. If the MAMI festival at Mumbai could have more than three screenings, surely India’s premier festival can do equally well, if not better.
The pick of the day was ‘Layla M.’ a Dutch film about the burning subject of the radicalisation of Muslim youth from Europe who are keen on joining the ISIS and other such organisations. Set in Amsterdam, the story is about Layla, a young adult from a liberal family who gets swayed by videos on the internet and her boyfriend who are fighting – their cause is the extremely conservative aspect of Islam. Layla rebels against her family, leaves home and the next thing you know, she is close to the Syrian border where she gets a reality check, like how many have got in real life, about what is actually happening on the ground.
Directed by filmmaker Mijke de Jong, the film doesn’t sensationalise or dramatise the issue – in fact, it is kept as rooted as it can be also giving a glimpse as to how young people get influenced even though there is no support whatsoever from the family. In fact, even her close friends try to persuade her but Layla thinks she is a crusader of justice. Some people clearly get convinced by the fringe rather than sane voices. Presuming that you are right is one thing and assuming that others are wrong is another story all together and therein lie many a problems in the world today.