Sachin Chatte: This is the 12th year that Goa is hosting India’s most prestigious film festival. There have been several efforts to improve different aspects of the festival in the meeting room but on the ground, things haven’t taken off in the manner they should have. For instance, even though the festival is being hosted here for a decade now, the rule for allowing non-ticket delegates has not been reviewed. The existing one doesn’t make any sense. For the uninitiated, delegates can book a ticket (which are free) in advance for a film. If the tickets are sold out, you have to stand in the ‘rush queue’ (ticketless) wherein you are allowed inside the theatre once the film starts. And that is the problem: ‘Once the film starts’. So when the opening credits are playing or in some cases, a critical scene occurs in the film, you suddenly have dozens of people walking into the theatre flashing their cellphone lights on your face, stumbling in the dark and crushing your toes like Waqar Younisyorker. I have noticed several times that the number of empty seats before the film starts far exceeds the number of people standing in the rush queue. But they are not allowed in because the demented rule says they should be allowed only after the film starts.
It is clear none of the authorities have stood in queue to get the whole experience first-hand. To reiterate a point made year after year, in India, rules are made by people who are least affected by them. The bottom line of this issue is allowing people without a ticket five minutes before the film starts so that everyone is seated by the time the credits start rolling. How many years will it take before they figure this out?
As NT Buzz did last year, here is the report card for IFFI 2015 graded on a scale of 10. On the whole they would get a flattering 7.
- Selection of Films: 8/10
The selection and spread of films was excellent this year. Not only were there top tier films covered but there were more than a handful of smaller gems.
The selection in the Indian Panorama was highly questionable though – it’s been years now since we saw something exciting and new in Panorama, and this year was no different. A festival should not only showcase the best films but also pick up unknown or undiscovered gems like any festival worth its salt does. Even the Mumbai Film Festival schedules much better Indian films than IFFI, by far. This year Thithi, Visaaranai, Island City, Gaali Beeja, were picked up by Mumbai, though none of these films made it to IFFI. Instead we were shown Court, which should have been screened last year. They should also do away with silly rules like a mandatory censor certificate for Indian films at the festival when foreign films don’t require it. Don’t just cut the red tape, burn it.
- Scheduling of Films: 5/10
The grades this year are relatively better than last year’s 2/10 but there still there is ample scope for improvement. There was an imbalance between the first and the second half of the program with most of the heavyweights coming in later. Sunday is when most delegates turn up but it was a dull day as far as the films were concerned. Besides, some of the films had only one screening that too in the smallest theatre, for instance the Camera d’Or winner, ‘Land and Shade’ had just one show in a theatre with a capacity of 182 seats while the documentary ‘The Guy from Fenyang’ was shown twice in Kala Academy that can seat 900 odd.
- Organisation: 6/10
Mercifully, this year the catalogue and screening schedule was put up on the website a good five days in advance which is a first at IFFI since it moved to Goa, so there has been dramatic improvement on that count. But announcing the line-up of films well in advance should be the norm not an exception. Since the number of delegates were less, it was a big boon for the organisers. The chaos was missing and everyone could pretty much watch the films that the wanted to.
- Communication: 6/10
IFFI currently has three different websites and a twitter handle that changes every year. You don’t need Mark Zuckerberg to give advice on how to handle online and social media in a less ham-handed manner. To give credit where it is due, at least their twitter handle was alive and kicking. On the whole, it was a good festival, the grievances were relatively less. Besides, we got to watch some noteworthy films like Taxi, Land and Shade, Embrace of the Serpent, Our Little Sister, The Fencer, The Idol, Aferim!, Rams, Tangerine, Among the Believers, Wild Tales, Mustang, Enclave, Frenzy, Body, Lamb, Mina Walking, Degrade and more. It was sufficient to satisfy the avarice of film buffs.