The director of the International Film Festival of India 2019, Chaitanya Prasad in conversation with NT BUZZ
RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR
Q: In hindsight, how do you see the organisation of the golden jubilee edition of the International Film Festival of India?
In hindsight, I can only say that we had put architecture together for the convenience of the delegates, which involved films, different curated sections, etc. We tried to organise all these things to the best of our ability. The response so far seems to be quite all right in the sense that people are enjoying the cinema, movie segments, In Conversation, Masterclass and so on. To cite an example, we had the Masterclass by Ilaiyaraaja, it was the high point of the festival with 11 musicians accompanying the master. He performed for the first time live on stage. The cinema curation has been so wonderful. By and large I think the cinema, the curation, the segments, the ideas…everything that we have put together has been a success. The opening ceremony was grand, while for the closing ceremony we have the ‘Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat’ event by Hariharan and team, and Tanushree Shankar presenting her dance performance.
Q: Do you feel that additional facilities need to be provided to this film festival?
Any facility, which augments this film festival, is always welcome. Why not?
Q: This year, the Inox Multiplex at Porvorim was also included as a festival venue. Was it a little too far from the festival complex?
The whole objective was to ensure an alternative to film screenings and thanks to the cooperation of the Entertainment Society of Goa, we got an alternative platform for it. There was a lot of demand for films and hence the number of films screened was more. Therefore, we had to find a place, which was convenient to all. Porvorim was chosen because the place has an Inox property and Inox is aware of the festival’s needs. We had more films and limited time to screen them. As such we got more screens and more facilities for delegates to enjoy. The ESG was also gracious to give us free transport to Porvorim.
Q: This year being the 50th year of the IFFI, should there have been more celebrities, domestic as well as international?
I think we had a fair chunk of celebrities. Our International jury was full of celebrities. We couldn’t have asked for more. Ilaiyaraaja is there. The opening ceremony had Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth, who are two of the tallest Indian icons. Wagner Moura and Jonathan Rhys are there. It’s not the number of celebrities, but the quality of those who attended the festival, and who are milestones in their respective fields. So it was a humbling experience for everyone.
Q: A number of ancillary activities are being held in the IFFI complex, besides film screenings. Do such activities harm the objectives of the film festival?
It’s a wonderful thing. It’s a wholesome kind of thing. Thanks to the vision of the Chief Minister and the ESG they were able to put this system in place. Not everyone is able to come inside the IFFI complex if they are not delegates, but they are able to enjoy the spirit of the festival through such activities, including beach screenings. The promenade and the streets are over-crowded; people are enjoying and taking selfies at vantage points, and trying to identify themselves with the festival, which is very good.
Q: Finally, how do you see the selection of films at this festival?
A lot of hard work has gone into it. A lot of critical inputs were there. We had a programming team, which put it together, both for Indian Panorama and World Cinema. We were duly advised by our preview committee and steering committee on the kind and quality of films. I can say that is why we have such wonderful (film) packages. The festival has a retro on Oscar Winning films, a retro on Golden Line of Indian Cinema that is films completing 50 years in 2019, a section on New Wave Cinema, Master Classics, Silent Movies with music… I mean it’s an endless list. All I can say is that for the first time we put the delegates into a dilemma, what to see and what not to see. I hope we improve upon it next year.