RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR
When the 34th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was inaugurated at the Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi, in the year 2003 by the then deputy prime minister, L K Advani and the guest of honour, Kamal Haasan, it was for the last time that this premier film festival of the country had nothing but only films forming its integral part. Till then, the film lovers attended this mega film fest to enjoy many good and perhaps some ‘naughty’ films, which were exempted from the mandatory censor certificate.
When the film festival arrived in Goa, the next year, it was more of a carnival and less of a film event, with both the public as well as the state government literally going crazy over it. Every effort was made that year to make IFFI 2004, the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’. From a cultural parade held in the city displaying giant tableaux based on the theme of cinema to the shows of plays as well as music bands at Kala Academy, and from the blockbuster film ‘Mission Impossible’ kicking off the week-long public beach screenings at Miramar to the performances by folk artists, many ancillary activities were organised on the sidelines of this festival, that year.
Dancers, tattoo artists, unicyclists, one-man band, balloon sculptors, street magicians, violin players, pop singers, palmists, lac bangle makers, knife throwers and jugglers, mime artists, tarot card readers, stilt walkers, hair braiders, rice carvers, face and nail painters, fire dancers, rope walkers, Mehendi artist… They were all there! In addition, special attractions like the vintage car parade, food courts, and much more attracted crowds from all over the state to the capital city. Panaji was set ablaze with colourful lighting adorning the government buildings, gardens and parks, squares and bridges. Special laser shows and fireworks illuminated the city from time to time, on every night of the film festival. And films screened at IFFI 2004 became just a small part of a big razzmatazz!
And then the activities, which took away the focus from the films screened at the film festival continued, year after year. The event management agencies were appointed to organise such events, which were neither official part of the mega film festival, nor linked to it in any way.
This year too many extra-curricular activities have been organised during the IFFI 2018, in different parts of the city to coincide with the film festival. Fortunately, they are based on the themes related to cinema, and do not deviate to non-film topics.
The ‘Open Air Screenings’ will be held at the Joggers’ Park, Altinho, with a large screen put up in a vast open area. This year, as an extension of the ‘Khelo India’ branding, Indian sports biopics would be screened including ‘Gold’ (2018) as well as ‘Soorma’ (2018) associated with hockey, ‘Mary Kom’ (2014) linked to boxing, ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ (2013) about track and field sprinting, and ‘1983’ (2014) as well as ‘MSD: The untold story’ (2016) about cricket.
In addition to Akshay Kumar, who will be present for the opening ceremony of this section, stars like Chitrangada Singh and Shaad Ali, who are producer and director of ‘Soorma’ respectively; Reema Kagti, the director of ‘Gold’; Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the director of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’; and Abrid Shine, the director of ‘1983’ will be present for the respective screenings.
Furthermore, the Serendipity Art Festival in association with the Entertainment Society of Goa will present ‘Football – A beautiful Life’, a 6-day film programme from November 22 to 27, at Children’s Park, Campal, that will showcase a range of exceptional feature films and documentaries from around the world, in which human and social stories would be narrated through football. This programme will be curated by Jan Tilman Schwab, and have films in more than six languages, representing a diverse range of football stories from Spain, Lebanon, Brazil, Germany, Iceland and India.
Another collateral event will comprise of the Goa College of Art holding an exhibition in stalls set up along the Campal promenade. The 25 stalls will provide a platform to the students of the college to showcase their talent based on the digital concept. More than 100 students of the art institution will be participating in the event.
A special screening of the blockbuster ‘Sholay’ (1975) and ‘Hichki’ (2018) would also be held for the visually impaired at this film festival, in Goa. These films will be screened with audio descriptors for the visually-impaired. Since 2016, the programming package has included a specially-curated section for the differently-abled, created in collaboration with UNESCO and Saksham, under the Accessible India Campaign and Sugamaya Bharat Abhiyan.
And finally, a Goan short film, ‘Seetee’ directed by Gopinath Chandelkar will be screened during the film festival under the Goan Section. This section however is not an official section of the film festival.
Although subsidiary events and programmes are still held on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of India, they are now more oriented towards the theme of cinema. It is therefore refreshingly pleasing to see this film festival shedding its circus look, and seriously concentrating on films, which form the crux of the film fiesta.