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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



IFFI 50: Awry scheduling

IFFI 50: Awry scheduling

When you are holding a competitive festival, the films in the Competition Section are the most important items in your showcase. Fill-buffs wait with bated breath to see who wins the awards at the closing function, which is scheduled at IFFI a full eight days after the inauguration. So, the suspense lasts eight days. In those eight days, if your interest is in the best of contemporary cinema, you make your own guesses, and compare your bests with the Jury’s verdicts, come November 28 evening.

Naturally, cineastes so-inclined make it a point to catch as many Competition films as possible. IFFI 2019 had 15 entries, which the selectors felt, were the best of the lot. One would expect the organisers to schedule these films at the rate of two a day, with one repeat screening each, translating into four different competition films a day, over 7 ½ days, the duration of the festival. On any given day, you would have four Competition films’ screenings, scheduled in a way that ensures no overlap. With 10 venues and up to 6 shows a day, this should not pose a problem. But a problem it was.

There must have been some compulsive or logical reasons, but the scheduling of Competition films turned out as under:-
Nov 21 8.30 am INOX 1 Particles (Previous night was a late night, with the opening cocktails and dinner)

Nov 21 5.30 pm INOX 2 Mai Ghat (ending at 7.44 pm)

Nov 21 7.30 pm Kala Academy Son-Mother (You would have to miss one of these)

3 Competition films had their first screening on a single day, and you had to miss one.

Nov 22 8.30 pm INOX 1 Antigone

Nov 22 9.00 am INOX 2 Watch List

Nov 22 9.00 am Kala Academy Stories from the Chestnut Woods

3 Competition films had their first screening on a single day, and you had to miss two.

Nov 23 8.30 am INOX 1 Captives

Nov 23 9.00 am Kala Academy Out Stealing Horses (You would have to miss one of these)

Nov 23 3.30 pm INOX 1 Lillian (This was fine)

Again, 3 Competition films had their first screening on a single day, and you had to miss one.

Nov 24 8.30 am INOX 1 Chronology

Nov 24 9.00 am Kala Academy The Science of Fictions (You would have to miss one of these)

Nov 24 12.30 pm Kala Academy The Steed (This was fine)

Nov 24 7.00 pm INOX 1 Marighella (This was fine)

4 Competition films had their first screening on a single day, and you had to miss one.

Halfway through the festival, 13 out of 15 Competition films had been screened once each.

Nov 25 10.00 pm Kala Academy Mai Ghat (Repeated, though there were two films yet to be screened for the first time)

Nov 26 9.00 am INOX 2 Watch List (Repeated) (Fine)

Nov 26 12.00 noon Marighella (Repeated) (Fine)

Nov 26 3.15 pm INOX 3 The Science of Fictions (Repeated) (Fine)

Nov 26 6.45 INOX 3 Balloon

Nov 26 7.00 pm INOX 1 The Steed (Repeated)

Nov 26 7.30 pm Kala Academy Captives (Repeated) (You would have to miss 2 of these 3)

Nov 26 10 pm Kala Academy, Uyare replaced by Jallikattu, which was to be screened on the 27th.  Intimation sent by SMS, but many missed it among the multitude of SMSs sent to the media as well as the ticket booking SMSs (You would have to miss 2 of the above 3)

5 Competition films screened on a single day, and you had to miss 2.

All 15 Competition films screened at least once, till November 26

Nov 27 9.00 am Kala Academy Particles (Repeated) (Fine)

Nov 27 11.45 am INOX 3 Antigone (Repeated)

Nov 27 12.00 noon INOX 1Stories from the Chestnut Woods (Repeated) (You would have to miss one of these two)

Nov 27 6.45 pm INOX 3 Chronology (Repeated) (Fine)

4 Competition films screened on a single day, and you had to miss one.

Nov 28 9.00 am INOX 2 Lillian (Fine)

Nov 28 12.00 noon INOX 1 Out Stealing Horses

Nov 28 12.30 pm Kala Academy Balloon (You would have to miss one of these two)

3 Competition films screened on a single day, and you had to miss one.

10 of the 28 screenings were held at or before 9 am

Number of screenings

  1. Particles 2
  2. Mai Ghat 2
  3. Antigone 2
  4. Watch List 2
  5. Stories from the Chestnut Woods 2
  6. Captives 2
  7. Chronology 2
  8. The Science of Fictions 2
  9. The Steed 2
  10. Marighella 2
  11. Balloon 2
  12. Lillian 2
  13. Out Stealing Horses 2
  14. Jallikattu 1
  15. Son-Mother 1

Jallikattu bagged Lijo Jose Pellissery, an Indian, the Silver Peacock for the Best Director. Many must have missed his film’s screening because it was advanced by a day and had no repeated screening.

At a press conference held on 19th November, a journalist colleague pointed out to the Director of IFFI that three competition films were scheduled in overlapping or same slots on the 22nd of November. The Director replied that he was aware of this fact but there were constraints, and the scheduling was unavoidable. Nevertheless, the scheduling was awry, as far as competition films went, constraint or no constraint.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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