51st hybrid IFFI concludes

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‘Into The Darkness’ directed by Anders Refn won the Golden Peacock at the 51st IFFI which witnessed many changes and firsts in this edition. NT BUZZ details

The closing ceremony of the 51st International Film Festival of India came to a close at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, Taleigao.

Present for the function were chief guest, actress Zeenat Aman; and actor, Ravi Kishan as guest of honour, along with other film and political dignitaries, and bureaucrats

An otherwise packed stadium for the opening and closing ceremony, this edition had no much audience and stardom.

Done during challenging times, the hybrid festival had a lot of firsts to boast off including digital session and hosting events on the OTT platform along with virtual jury sessions, and more.

And this was highlighted by many of the speakers at the concluding event, especially, secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Amit Khare who noted that the festival had technique, song and dance, films, and more. “I feel extremely proud that we were able to organise this festival flawlessly. It shows the triumph of human efforts over Corona, using time and technology,” he said, adding that while most film festivals were postponed, they will now be inspired by IFFI and organise festivals using a similar mode.

CEO, Entertainment Society of Goa, Amit Satija also highlighted how IFFI this year was one that had several changes and new incorporations due to the pandemic. “A lot of activities were not organised due to the virus outbreak, but we’ve been able to host a great festival with delegates who came from nearby southern states. Over 190 movies were screened, 54 screenings were houseful, and 39 international guests graced the 51st IFFI,” he said.

Union Minister Shri Babul Supriyo said that the 51st edition of IFFI has conquered all ifs and buts and emerged as the perfect platform for excellence. “IFFI 51 is a one-of-kind achievement, given that we organised this in a hybrid mode amidst the pandemic. The festival ensured that there is no if when it comes to ensuring the bonding and closeness between us human beings. The big screen entertains, makes us cry and makes us laugh in a different manner, when great directors make films to enlighten and entertain us. It also magnifies all the emotions we have. India, which makes the largest number of films in the world, has gotten together with the rest of the world to celebrate cinema.”

Governor of Goa Bhagat Singh Koshiyari praised the organisers for holding the festival, despite the extraordinary times we are going through. In his speech he said: “Cinema is uniting not only our country, but our neighbouring countries as well. I salute Indian cinema and filmmakers. A film festival is an opportunity to learn and to remind us that the whole world is one, despite differences.”

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant used the platform to speak about the COVID vaccination drive that’s underway in the country. While he spoke about various activities and events being planned for Goa, he said: “I welcome filmmakers of India and abroad to come and shoot in Goa. We will be committed to make 52nd IFFI even better.”

At the closing ceremony of the 51st International Film Festival of India, veteran actor Biswajit Chatterjee was bestowed the Indian Personality of the Year Award. The award was presented by Governor of Goa, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, and Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Babul Supriyo.

The multi-faceted Bengali film personality (actor, director, producer and singer) expressed joy that the Country of Focus this year was Bangladesh, a country with which he has deep connection with. “When Bangladesh was being attacked, genius director Ritwik Gatak was with me in Mumbai and we used to get inspired by the speeches of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. And that’s how we ended up making the documentary ‘There Flows Padma, The Mother Rive’,” he recalled.

He spoke about his life in the film industry and how he didn’t want to be limited as a Bengali actor but do work all across India, which he managed through the many films he acted in. “If someone is confident from within his heart that he or she will be able to achieve something, keeps he faith in oneself and does not deviate from the path, he or she will undoubtedly be able to achieve it,” he said.

Both Ravi Kishan and Zeenat Aman spoke about the reach of IFFI that has become a global institution. They expressed joy at being chosen to grace the closing ceremony of the 51st edition.

In his closing statement Chaitanya Prasad said: “We began planning this festival a few months ago with much apprehension whether the festival would be organised or not with the pandemic. But it was the faith of Union Minister Prakash Javadekar who was positive and hopeful. The chief minister of Goa always said ‘Hum Tayyar Hain’ and thus kept the policy flowing and hiccups out of the way for a hybrid mode. We didn’t want to postpone, but we had to as other festivals weren’t happening and we moved forward with the support.”

The closing ceremony was hosted by actress Simone Singh and had performances by singer, Asees Kaur and a dance performance that showcased Bollywood through the ages from the 50s till now.

IFFI experience to continue

The decor and illumination created for the festival at the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) courtyard and Kala Academy will be open for public viewing on January 25 and 26.

This year 90 per cent of the decor has been done by local artists. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the peripheral activities could not be carried out on the promenade for the general public.

The food stalls inside ESG courtyard will also be open during these two days and the visiting hours will be from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Big B on IFFI

In a video message, the Big B of Indian cinema said: “The world went through an unprecedented situation. IFFI is a great example of transforming challenges into opportunities. The festival was conducted in hybrid mode in a wonderful fashion. I thank everyone who made IFFI possible, especially the Government of India for keeping cinema alive during these difficult times.”

51st IFFI Awards

Best Debut Director: Cássio Pereira dos Santos for ‘Valentina’

Special Mention: ‘Bridge’, directed by Kripal Kalita

Special Jury Award: ‘February’, directed by Kamin Kalev

Best Actor (Female): Zofia Stafiej for the film ‘I Never Cry’

Best Actor (Male): Liu Tzu‑chuan for ‘Silent Forest’

Best Director (Silver Peacock): Chen-Nien Ko for ‘Silent Forest’

Best Film (Golden Peacock): ‘Into The Darkness’ directed by Anders Refn

ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal: ‘200 metres’ by Ameen Nayfeh

Jury Chairman speaks

Jury Chairman Pablo Cesar thanked the festival for the opportunity given to the jury to evaluate the films in the International Competition category. “We are very happy with the wide and varied themes showcased in the films selected for the festival, especially those that make us reflect on individual freedoms, rights of children and all the people of this world, empowerment of women and memories of things that some people have done which we hope will never happen again. Thank you IFFI for selection of films which are rich in content and aesthetic search.”