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Goa, coping with the pressures of a shiftover of the IFFI from New Delhi

Panjim, Goa, Nov 22: Faced with having to cope with the pressures of shifting its venue from the Indian national capital to the country's smallest province, the IFFI (International Film Festival of India) is currently working to win friends and influence people here in the former Portuguese colony of Goa.

India's attempt -- which started since the IFFI shifted here in November 2004 -- is aimed at recreating an "Indian Cannes" of sorts, in this small region, known better for being a holidayer's paradise and region filled with beaches and an interesting mix of food and music.

Goa's main problem: it doesn't have much of a film-culture of its own.

Two other problems, at least, also afflict the shifting of the film-festival here. One is political. Opinion tends to get sharply polarised here.

When the IFFI first came to Goa in 2004, the supporters of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were its big fans. Now that that party is in opposition, it is the ruling Congress which is trying to make the most of the event, while allies and supporters of the BJP go about criticising the event.

In the meanwhile, Goa is also getting squeezed between the various Indian regional film industries, a few of whom are for Goa being the venue of IFFI, and more believe that their own region could play a better host.

Bollywood -- as the moneyspinning mainly-Hindi, Mumbai (Bombay)-based film industry from western Indian is known -- appears to be largely in favour of the festival being hosted in Goa. Regional Indian film industries from Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) and Kolkatta (West Bengal) appear not so well disposed to the festival being sited here.

But the Confederation of Indian Industry, a national level trade body that sees the money, rather than the entertainment, side of films to be important, itself largely appears to be supportive of Goa as the venue.

Government employees, themselves a harried lot having to cope with this small region's stretched infrastructure, sometimes show their dislike of having to work on a festival being held in Goa rather than in New Delhi, a city they are more used to.

Goa, India's smallest state, also has the challenge of coping with the difficulties of building its infrastructure upto par, raising money to fend for the festival, and pulling off things without too much inefficiency amidst the growing number of impatient fans and film buffs thronging to the festival.

This year the state has attempted to increase the number of seats available at the festival, and extend screenings to a few more theatres. Also, the process for applying -- for both delegates and media -- has been placed online, which speedened up things but also ran into some technical glitches in a case of some registrations.

Panjim, the Goan state capital, announced that the street carnival-style fanfare would be minimised during IFFI 2007, which begins here on Friday, November 23, 2007.

This is seen as important to avoid dislocations and further traffic-jams in this small state-capital of barely 50,000 inhabitants, whose population swells to double its size daily because of the influx of government servants and others.

Meanwhile, the Entertainment Society of Goa, the organisation which is entrusted with the local preparations for the event by the regional governmentn announced it would organise a series of competitions in time for the IFFI.

It said IFFI this year would create "talent platforms" for Goa with film-related competitions to encourage local participation.

These competitions would include a lyric writing competition (in the languages of English, Hindi, Konkani, Marathi). Participants would have to submit a single entry of their original lyrics.

There would also be a multi-lingual film story competition; music compsition competition; a photo-competition to shoot unknown locations in scenic Goa for filming; and even a floor-painting competition depicting film personalities.


By Frederick Noronha fred@bytesforall.org

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