Panaji: The countdown for the 50th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) to be inaugurated in the city on November 20 may have very well begun; however, it is still uncertain as to whether the Kala Academy Complex, one of the main venues for this annual film event, would screen films for the delegates this time or not.
According to Minister for Art and Culture, Govind Gaude, who is also the chairman of the Kala Academy-Goa, it is humanly impossible for any contractor to complete the work as regards structural strengthening of Kala Academy Complex, followed by its renovation, within a period of one month. “And we don’t want the public money to be wasted by undertaking this work haphazardly, within the limited time available,” he added.
“We, therefore, propose to take up painting work and some beautification of the Dinanath Mangueshkar Kala Mandir, which serves as a cinema hall during the film festival,” the Minister for Art and Culture mentioned, pointing out that the main objective of the government would be to make this auditorium presentable to the delegates and dignitaries at the film festival.
“We are awaiting direction from the Chief Minister and would soon take up the patch-up work of the KA auditorium,” he informed, adding that as the cost of this work would be around Rs 5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh, a short-term tender would be floated for the same, and the said task completed well before the inauguration of the film festival.
Meanwhile, vice chairman of the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), Subhash Phaldesai, after attending the IFFI 2019 review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in the city, said that the ESG has already discussed the issue of hiring local theatres for IFFI, which are within a distance of 10 km from the official IFFI venues.
“These theatres, however, need to have some standard; we just cannot hand over any theatre to the directorate of film festivals (DFF),” he added, pointing out that the number of theatres required would depend on the number of films to be screened at the film festival.
The Chief Minister, during the meeting directed mobilisation of all concerned government departments to assist the film event in becoming a success. Phaldesai said that all the preparations for the IFFI 2019 including festival erections and decor would be complete by November 15. “We will then have at least four days for fine tuning these preparations, if need be,” he added.
Incidentally, the Kala Academy complex is facing structural problems, and it is still not clear as to whether the patch-up work of the particular auditorium would also guarantee safety of the audiences in this cinema hall.
The KA sources have maintained that the roof of the Dinanath Mangueshkar Kala Mandir, which has been plastered many a times, is already overweighing and needs to have permanent repair.
Meanwhile, the final visit of the technical committee of the DFF, which inspects the venues for the IFFI, is yet to happen. The report of this committee would play an important role in the continuation of Kala Academy as a festival venue.
The ESG, which is a partner of the DFF in organising IFFI, is still awaiting government’s decision as regards Kala Academy Complex.
The ESG sources maintained that total capacity of the two Maquinez Palace auditoriums is 305, that of the four-theatre Inox Multiplex is 1,271, and the capacity of the Dinanath Mangueshkar Kala Mandir at Kala Academy is 975. These three venues collectively provide 2,551 theatre seats for the film festival.
As per the ESG statement, this year being the golden jubilee year of the film festival, it expects around 10,000 registrations from the delegates, 2,000 more than the registrations recorded annually. This indicates that even if 50 per cent of the delegates – around 5,000 – who have registered for IFFI 2019 turn up at the venue and then half of them – 2,500 – decide to watch film shows, then all the three regular venues of IFFI should be available and screening films.
When asked if there is any Plan B with it, in case the technical committee rejects Kala Academy on safety grounds, the ESG sources informed in negative. “There are plans to hire local theatres for screening of films at the IFFI,” the sources maintained.
Ironically, the local theatres – Samraat and Ashok – need some facelift, and would definitely not be a matter of pride for any international film festival, if they are not repaired and renovated as per the specifications of the international film festivals.
With just over-a-month left for the curtains to rise on the IFFI 2019, it would be interesting to see how the DFF as well as the ESG handle the tricky ‘venue situation’ for the mega film fiesta.