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Two Must-Attend Film Festivals,in India
by Lekha Shankar
With almost every city in India boasting of a film festival today, it’s difficult to know which ones to choose. But two film festivals seems a cut above the rest.
The International Film Festival of India (IIFI), is the oldest and biggest film festival in the country ,which is held in late-November, in the scenic beach-town of Goa. It has the glitter, glamour, and high-quality cinema that one associates with a top-range festival .
The Kerala International Film Festival (KIFF) is held in the noisy, busy city of Trivandrum, in the southern-tip of India . It does not boast of even a cinema multiplex, but draws the largest film-audiences in the country .The open-air Opening and Closing events attract spectacular crowds.
The 2011 editions of the two festivals had much to be proud off, including a wide selection of top-range films, and an arresting-range of top-notch film personalities.
Let’s start with IIFI.
Among the top international directors who attended this year’s festival, were French maestro Bertrand Tavernier, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award , well-known Australian director Phil Noyce, who conducted a Master Class, UK director Michael Winterbottom and Indian actress Frieda Pinto , who presented the film ‘Trishna’, based on Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘Tess of the Durbervilles’, French director Luc Besson and actress Michelle Yeoh who presented the Closing Film ‘The Lady’ ,an arresting biopic about Burmese Democracy-leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Tavernier was full of humour, at receiving an award from a country that had not released any of his films. But he said that he himself had been influenced by many Indian film-makers,including Satyajit Ray. Speaking of the importance of the cinema medium, the French Director informed that three legislative laws had been changed in his country, thanks to his films.
Among the important sections, at the Festival, were those on Poland, Russian, as also a special section on ‘Football’ films, and a new 3D section.
There were Master Classes by top film-artistes like Hugh Welchman, Laurence Kardish, Resul Pookutty, Max Howard.
The Artistic Director of the festival, Shankar Mohan ,who has worked with the festival for nearly two decades, and who took independent charge of the Govt-sponsored festival only this year, said he was ‘satisfied’ with IIFI 2011.
The Kerala Festival, which is noted for its Retros, had some arresting Retros, this year – Bresson, Oshima, Theo Angelopoulos ,Adolfas Mekas, Djbril Mabety .
There were Homages to two important film-folk who died last year- Elizabeth Taylor and Raoul Ruiz . Last but not the least, was a unique Kaidan Horror Classics section, which created a stir among the audience.
Among the Jury, this year, were Australian-Hollywood director Bruce Beresford and Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu. Both directors have totally different cinematic styles and visions. But they both confessed that they shared one problem- the problem of getting funds, for their films!
Beresford, best known for his Oscar winner ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ is an Australian director who has made films in different parts of the world, including China ( 'Mao’s Last Dancer') ,and has also directed many operas.
Kaplananoglu, best known for his Trilogy ‘Egg, Milk, Honey’ ,said he made films for himself and was grateful to film festivals for internationalising him.
An important seminar at the festival, discussed the ‘ Marketing of Malayalam Cinema’ and through that, the ‘ Marketing of Asian Cinema.’
Festival Director Bina Paul said that this was a new addition to the festival.
Aruna Vasudev, founder of the dynamic organization NETPAC ( Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) , stated that there was “ A sea-change in the perception of Asian cinema” .
That was the reason for the explosion of Asian Film Festivals around the world, she added. But she admitted that distribution of these films, was still a major problem.
She urged people to read the Netpac web-site, which offered the best source-material for films from all around Asia ( http://www.netpacasia.org ) .
It was interesting to hear an actor from Kerala, Ravinder, speak of his intense efforts to spread the cinema of his state, to international territories, which included top festival -markets like Cannes and Berlin , as well as international Varsities, like New York Varsity.
" It would be nice for people to discover Kerala, through its cinema" he stated, adding " why don’t we have a barter system? They can show our films, and we can show theirs-! "
Why not, indeed?
About LEKHA SHANKAR
The Bulletin Board
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