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Lalit Rao

Mr. Lalit Rao is a veteran film critic as well as a French teacher, technical translator and interpreter from Jaipur, India. He is currently writing a book on 25 best French films (1990-2015). Since April 2013, he is the member of the prestigious film critics’ organization FIPRESCI. Apart from ‘‘World Cinema’’, he is interested in chess, foreign languages, linguistics and philosophy. As a film critic, he regularly posts about cinema on social networks namely Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. He is also the associate editor of the quarterly magazine ‘‘Cinematography Art’’ published from New Delhi, India.

Mr. Lalit Rao has reported extensively on French language, philosophy and film festivals especially ‘‘World Cinema’’ through more than 40 blogs and 8 video channels. In 2008, he launched Cinema-poet 2008, his first YouTube channel about ‘‘World Cinema’’. In 2013, Mr. Lalit Rao launched his second YouTube channel called ‘Indian talkies 1913’ (Videos about Indian Cinema) to promote Indian cinema. It is on these two channels that he regularly uploads videos related to ‘‘Indian Cinema’’ and ‘‘World Cinema’’.

One of India’s famous cinema journals ‘‘Deep Focus’’, and ‘‘Bangalore Film Society’’ were represented by him as their correspondent in Paris, France for 2005-2006. He also presented a paper on Canadian cinema entitled ‘‘A brief overview of Francophone cinema in Québec’’ during 20th International Conference on Canadian Studies, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 27-29 February, 2004. Apart from writing 1000 reviews on IMDB, it was in 1996 that Mr. Lalit Rao created ‘‘KINEMA’’, a database with information on 25,000 films from all over the world.

His articles in French and English have appeared in magazines and websites such as Deep Focus, Blog, Kinoglaz, Objectif-Cinema, Sancho Does Asia and Séquences.

As a film critic, Mr. Lalit Rao has participated thrice in BBC polls to determine : a) 100 greatest foreign language films, b) 100 greatest films directed by women and c) 100 greatest comedies of all time. In April 2022, Mr. Lalit Rao was nominated as a jury member (short films) by Italian cinema and theater critic Ms.Paola Dei for 4th edition of Bulli Ed Eroi Concorsco Bellezza 2022 held in Sienna, Italy.  In March 2022, Mr. Lalit Rao participated in 13th Bangalore International Film Festival 2022 (3-10th March, 2022) as a member of the prestigious FIPRESCI jury. His assignment included watching 12 Asian films in order to give the award to the best film.

On 30/09/2021, Mr.Lalit Rao gave a message of congratulations to Iranian children on  the occasion of National Children’s Week held in Iran from October 8 to 14, 2021. In February 2017, he participated as a jury member (Kannada Cinema) during 9th Bangalore International Film Festival 2017.In 2014, he attended 19th International Film Festival of Kerala 2014 as a member of FIPRESCI jury (Malayalam Cinema).

Mr. Lalit Rao studied Master 2 at Université de Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris where he worked on ‘Distribution of Indian cinema’ in France. As a film critic, Mr. Lalit Rao has attended numerous film festivals in France and India !!



A report about 53rd International Film Festival of India IFFI Goa 2022 © Mr.Lalit Rao (FIPRESCI)

It was with an Austrian film ‘‘Alma and Oskar’’ directed by Dieter Berner that 53rd International Film Festival of India 2022 got off to a good start. It is a film about one of the greatest expressionist artists of the 20th century Oskar Kokoschka who dominated the world of painting in Austria during 1900s. In the history of IFFI, it was for the first time that an Austrian film was chosen as the opening film. Apart from the director Dieter Berner, the film’s producers Alexander Glehr and Johanna Scherz and lead actors Emily Cox and Valentin Postlmayr were present at INOX 1 during the screening.

By and large, film festivals are organized all over the world to promote serious cinema. It can also be said that film festivals promote the auteur cinema of the country where it is organized. For example: Cannes film festival and Berlin Film festival. Both these film festivals are conducted in such a manner that both French cinema and German cinema are able to get ample opportunities to be seen, appreciated and sold during these festivals.  However, one encounters a different kind of a scenario during IFFI as India’s commercial cinema Bollywood takes precedence over local and regional cinema especially during the opening ceremony. It is hoped that this trend would be reversed in future editions of IFFI.

To the dismay of general public, film industry professionals and film critics, scheduling of films remains a major issue at IFFI and is considered to be a major drawback for cinéphiles and critics who come from all over India to Panaji to watch as many acclaimed films as possible. For this year’s edition Spanish master director Carlos Saura’s films were shown at an unapproachable venue Inox, Porvorim. Most film critics complained that they couldn’t manage to see 15 competition and Indian panorama films. However, there were some lucky world cinema enthusiasts who managed to see ten good films during the festival. This is considered to be a healthy sign of any good film festival.

For its 2022 edition, NFDC’s ‘‘Film Bazaar’’ held at Marriott resort, Miramar, Panaji  somewhat lacked the vigor as delegates and critics were made to run helter-skelter to get their badges and media kits. Some of the media persons returned empty handed as badges and media kits weren’t given to them.

Apart from the critically acclaimed films, master classes and talk shows are real crowd pullers at IFFI. However, it should be mentioned that Maquinez Palace 1 is too small a venue to organize either a master class or a talk show with famous people from Indian film industry. A bigger venue with  facilities for media persons is the need of the hour. In this regard, let us all  hope that ‘‘Kala Academy’’ will be ready in time for 54th IFFI 2023.

It is with great displeasure and regret that  everybody’s attention must be drawn towards ‘‘Nadav Lapid’’ controversy that has tarnished the image of IFFI. Some key questions need to be asked such as who were the people who took the decision of inviting him ? Why was this perverse Israeli filmmaker not interrupted when he was hell bent on unjustly calling a film chosen by preview committee members as a ‘‘propaganda film’’. It is hoped that festival authorities will learn some lessons  from this nasty incident and will ensure that the trend of inviting mediocre or obscure filmmakers to IFFI as jury members must end. 

Finally, a  lot of serious discussions and reporting work is carried out at PIB media center. It is one major spot where media persons stay for most of the day either to draft reports or attend press conferences. Apart from packed cinema halls, PIB media center would attract huge crowds whenever Bollywood actors came for press conferences. Bollywood actors Anupam Kher and Jackie Shroff attended such popular press conferences. As vlogging is getting more and more popular, some interactive sessions for journalists are needed including a briefing for media persons about the directors and actors who would attend and whose films would be presented during IFFI. This would be helpful for all those media persons who prepare comprehensive festival reports for  newspapers, magazines and online publications.


Top 10 films seen during 53rd International Film Festival of India 2022

Below is the list of Top 10 "World Cinema" films that film critic Lalit Rao (FIPRESCI) saw at INOX during 53rd International Film Festival of India IFFI Goa 2022.

1) When the Waves are Gone directed by Lav Diaz, Philippines 2022.

2) The Chambermaid directed by Mariana Cengel Solcanska, Slovakia 2021.

3) Close directed by Lukas Dhont, Belgium  2022.

4) Domingo and the mist directed by Ariel Escalante Meza, Costa Rica  2022.

5) The Novelist's Film directed by Hong Sang Soo, South Korea  2022.

6) Decision to leave directed by Park Chan Wook, South Korea  2022.

7) Red Shoes directed by Carlos Eichelmann Kaiser, Mexico  2022.

8) Bulldog directed by André Szardenings, Germany 2022.

9) Perfect Number directed by Krzysztof Zanussi, Poland  2022.

10) Fairytale directed by Alexander Sokurov, Russia  2022

PS : Apart from this list of Top 10 films, Mr. Lalit Rao met and spoke about cinema with 3 directors who were present in Panaji for 53rd IFFI 2022 namely Lav Diaz (Philippines), Ariel Escalante Meza (Costa Rica) and Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland). It was good listening to their ideas and perspectives.



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About Lalit Rao

RAO Lalit

Mr. Lalit Rao (member-FIPRESCI) writes for this website on a regular basis as a film critic publishing reviews on his profile

In February 2017, he participated as jury member during  9th Bangalore International Film Festival 2017.

In 2014, he attended 19th International Film Festival of Kerala 2014 as a member of film critics’ jury.

As a film critic, Mr.Lalit Rao has attended film festivals in India as well as France namely International Film Festival of India (IFFI), International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil, Paris : Cinéma du Réel-Festival International de films documentaires, Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent? Saint-Denis, Rencontres Internationales du Cinéma de Patrimoine, Vincennes & Festival International des Cinémas d'Asie, Vesoul. 


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