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Make in India, Show the World

admin   September 2, 2020

Confideration of Indian Industry’s Global AVGC Summit FX (Sept 1-4) took off on a bright note. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statements on India as hub for toy industry, encouraging creation of digital games based on Indian culture have given a huge fillip to Summit FX deleberations on animation, gaming, VFX made in India and serve the world

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements on turning India into a toy hub and his clarion call for creation of digital games and needed technology and innovation in this space resonated at the inaugural session of CII’s Global AVGC (Animtation, VFX, Gaming, Comics) Summit FX 2020. Prime Minister emphasised this on two occassions — first time at a meeting to boost toy manufacturing in the country and second time at his radio address Mann ki Baat.

Taking nuggets from PM Narendra Modi’s speech on digital gaming potential, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Environment; Forest & Climate Change and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises emphasised huge potential for Indian gaming sector and announced a Gamification Centre to be set up at IIT Mumbai.

“We have formed an expert committee, through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting & IIT Bombay. The committee has submitted its report to create a gamification centre. This is a landmark decision that will act as a forum for our entrepreneurs and help them to move ahead within the industry,” said Javadekar at the Summit FX 2020 inaugural address.

Javadekar said AVGC is not only a sunrise industry but a very promising industry and India has an opportunity to develop and become a leader in this field. “Gamification and animation will become a major export for the country and a wealth generator,” he added.

He also emphasised that worldover there is violence in gaming and need of the hour is value based gaming. “This sector has the potential to change the way our children learn, and therefore the four days of deliberation by CII at Summit FX, will give us concrete recommendations and suggestions for the government and private sector to work together,” he maintained.

Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said the government is working on an National AVGC Policy and creation of National Centre for Excellence in Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics in IIT Mumbai. “There is a consensus building that the Central and State Governments need to come together to promote Centers of Excellence for AVGC industry. We need to work with the State Governments further, and it is in this line we are working and finalizing the AVGC policy for the Government of India,” said Khare.

The vision of NCoE is to become one of the leading institutes globally, offering world class education in AVGC sector and productively engage with the industry. The Government is in consultation with industry stakeholders and the centre is likely to come up in one to two years.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry said Summit FX has been curated and nurtured to create a facilitative environment for the growing AVGC sector. “The gaming industry today has the potential to promote Indian culture across the globe,” he said.

Chandrajit Banerjee maintained that Summit FX will help develop timely thought leadership and insights to add value to the content creators, broadcasters, buyers, studios, production companies, distributors, technology providers and developers across the AVGC sector.

K Madhavan, Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Managing Director Star India Pvt Limited & Disney India stated the total global value for AVGC business is approximately 260 billion, while Indian share currently is less than 1 per cent. The contraction of the industry due to the ongoing pandemic, can be corrected with the right policies and regulations and we will be able to bounce back to meet our target of 100 billion in 2030, out of which we expect a 15% contribution from the AVGC sector.

Madhavan prioritised three focus areas — creation of special economic zones for content production across the country; a relook at GST for AVGC Sector; need to have an AVGC policy making more Indian states to participate and create India as a global AVGC hub.

It is of utmost importance to form a Council where financial resources from the Central and the State Governments can complement other resources and investments, stated Biren Ghose, Vice Chair, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Country Head Technicolor India. “CII can help facilitate this concept. While six States are pursuing an AVGC policy, it is urgent to have a National AVGC policy acting as a fountain of thought for other State policies. It is imperative to see how resources can be combined with the States and private sector to create one integrated plan, such as the national highway, to help create digital infrastructure across the nation.”

Siddharth Roy Kapur, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Managing Director, Roy Kapur Films expressed the need for the Ministry of Home Affairs to open up Cinema Halls as there is a lot of worry and anxiety in the film industry, both on the exhibition and film side.

Summit FX 2020 has over 30+ Knowledge Sessions, 120+ speakers and 15 buyers deliberating on a wide range of issues that cuts across the spectrum looking to develop a cohesive industry engagement with core cross sectoral policy dialogues and strategic exchanges.


Cannes Virtual Film Market From June 22-26

admin   May 1, 2020

In the aftermath of COVID 19, Cannes Film Market has chalked out an alternative plan to conduct the world’s biggest film market virtually as close to replicate the mirror image of the market from June 22-26, 2020. The Cannes Film Market has not been disrupted since its inception in 1959.

Officially, the Cannes Film Festival is cancelled-first time in 73 years-but the market will happen online. Jérome Paillard, Executive Director and boss of Marché du Film has confirmed the online market plan in his interactions with the media

Accreditation for the Marché du Film Online will be available for industry professionals at an early bird rate of €95 until May 29 and €195 normal rate after that-incl. a one-year subscription to Cinando. The online registration will begin early next week.

The scenario in the decade beginning 2020 has challenged the status quo of the world’s biggest film market. Emerging technology is set to provide solutions for core Cannes Film Market activity-online interactions between film sales companies, OTT platforms, distributors, festivals, and programmers.

Using the Cinando platform-networking app of Marche-Cannes film market will have online market screenings and will adopt same rules and conditions for invitations only access-for sales agents, festival programmers and invitees. The Cinando Technology platform is enabled to provide secured encryption, the rights management, viewership tracking and the Cinando streaming platform is used by Toronto and Cinemania.

Marche will also integrate Zoom video-conferencing software in Cinando’s Match & Meet platform to organise online meetings for delegates and exhibitors which normally would have happened in a booth, cafeteria or buyers lounge. Live streaming of conferences is also being worked out. Marche which had earlier planned to launch Speed Meetings program – one-to-one meetings on co-production, locations, remakes, services, technology will conduct meetings online via Zoom/Kaltura/Vimeo.

Programs and conferences will be readapted to offer the same opportunities for networking and presenting new projects. Booking screenings is free, the cost of uploading the film via Cinando will cost between 6€ and 18€ depending of requested quality and storage duration.

The Producers Network will also be online on the Marché du Film Online platform. At the breakfast meetings every morning from regisered producers network delegates will be be able to interact with Moderators and Guests of Honor who will share their valuable insight on today’s film industry. The producers network events are intended for producers with at least one feature film with a commercial release within the past three years.

The Cannes Film Market’s virtual booth will be something similar to a webpage on the Marché du Film Online platform. The features of the virtual booth (web page) and costings will differ according to adds on and web tools – from the base structure. The exhibitor companies, institutions and country pavilions will be able to design and add features to the wordpress page. Finer details are awaited.

For example, it is possible for country pavilions to host interactive meetings and one-on-one meeting for companies as well as interactions between government representatives of various countries for collaboration.

AT THE VIRTUAL BOOTH (VIA WEB PAGE)

Sales agents will be able to connect with buyers and to display their new films and projects-in-progress at a dedicated online booth.

Online Screenings will be programmed with set schedules in fifteen virtual cinemas to maintain the market momentum and allow time for viewing and negotiation.

Institutions from all over the world will have the chance to present their national cinema, film commissions and film locations, support their producers and organize meetings in a virtual space That mirrors the traditional Village International pavilions.

A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE MARKET

  • Visit virtual booths and pavilions & discover exclusive films and projects-in-progress in online dedicated spaces as if you were in Cannes!
  • Sales companies will be able to connect with buyers and institutions from all over the world will present their national cinematography, film commissions and film locations…
  • Organize meetings in a virtual space with professionals from all over the world via the Marché du Film networking app Match & Meet, integrating video calls.
  • Attend online screenings – films / project presentations – in about 15 virtual cinemas & enjoy reruns organized in different time zones to allow time for viewing and negotiation! The platform will be based on Cinando’s technology and with strict security measures incl. DRM, individual watermark and real-time management and monitoring of admissions to screenings.
  • Explore the Marché du Film Online programs & conferences: programs and conferences will for the most part be transported to the digital space: Cannes Docs, Cannes XR, Producers Network, Frontières will be reshaped to this new digital environment.
  • Join Speed meetings around composers, book publishers or producers.
  • Discover VR projects with Cannes XR, our program fully dedicated to immersive entertainment, which will present its projects in an environment where films can be viewed with a VR headset.


IFFI is not just a Festival, but Festivities

admin   November 24, 2019

Ravi Kottarakara, a film industry veteran of 40-years and a key IFFI member who has been associated with the event since the 80s, shares his journey, highlighting how the film extravaganza has grown by leaps and bounds since 1952, when the idea was conceived

Your best memories and nostalgia of IFFI

I have been attending IFFI since 80s. You know that IFFI started in 1952. Frank Capra was invited and a small controversy took place when Pataal Bhairavi was screened. People asked why Pataal Bhairavi was screened. With humility they said, it represents the ethos and culture of Indian cinema. It has been screened not for any artistic representation. It was a big argument but then it still went on continuing, then every year we had IFFI.

I still remember watching film Taxi Driver. That was a Robert De Niro film and first of its kind in that genre. I found it slightly bold. I learnt the art of filmmaking from that movie. Next year, we had a Kannada film called Ondanondu Kaladalli which was directed by Girish Karnad and starred Sunder Krishna, Shankar Nag and Sundar Raj, screening at the event which took place at Delhi.

Since then, I started attending the festival every year. In 1980 we had Shatranj Ke Khilari and in 1981 we had Aakrosh. To my knowledge Aakrosh is the first film which was shot on 16mm and then blown upto 35mm screen. That movie won the first Golden Peacock Award. In 1980 there was Bhumika which was Smita Patil’s film directed by Shyam Bengal. Thanneer Thanneer was also screened the same year. Similarly in 1982, 1983 the festival went well. In 1984 the festival took place at Mumbai where I saw a fantastic film Koyaanisqatsi. The hero of the film was photography and the heroine was music. It took nearly 14 years to get the film made. The film represented the culture change. It stated that even if the culture will be replaced by globalisation and computerization, you will come back to the roots, to the nature, from where you started. The film was based on this and it is one of the finest movies ever made.

Earlier the film festival was of 14 days. First week 70 shows, second week 70 shows, every day 5 shows. One day N T Rama Rao chief minister of Andra Pradesh on his regular visit to he Ramakrishna theater where festival films were screened found that all the delegates had to go out to have lunch in between the short gaps. He immediately arranged Chicken and Vegetable biryani for all the 1000 odd delegates and told thier duty was to watch films and learn about cinema and gain technical skills.

The advantage of the festival is that it increased my knowledge and learning because you watch so many films. Slowly the government realized that we should have a permanent venue. By 2002, it was decided that the film festival should be given a permanent venue, like Cannes film festival has. They decided for Goa. The late Goan CM Manohar Parikar invited us to hold the festival in his state. And since 2004, there has been no looking back.

Our festival is growing every year. Today it has come to a stage where we are having roughly 13,000 visitors and the number and the quality of films has increased. In fact, in 2005-06 we started the master classes which was a big success. Lot of people started coming in, number of foreign delegates also started increasing. They started doubling year by year. Since this is the 50th year, we are going to have a whole team of foreign delegates.

I am also thankful to the government for putting me in the steering committee every year. This year too, I am part of the committee and we are honouring around 12 stalwarts plus we will be screening around 24 films.

We will have Oscar section separately, then best of Indian films. For the first time, we are trying to make a film for the visually impaired being screened there. The most important is the selection for this time for the festival is fantastic. It will be in fact the better selection than Cannes. In Cannes they have gone little bit EU oriented. But, we have not gone EU oriented, we are only deciding the best films. Thanks to our government under the great leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, our I&B Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar has taken lot of efforts and his entire team, Directorate of Film Festival, ESG they had many meetings to ensure that this festival becomes a big success. There is going to be a big opening ceremony where Shankar Mahadevan is performing with a silent movie being screened along with the live recording. The most important thing is honouring and respecting legends. We are honouring the Great Amitabh Bachchan ji and Shri Rajnikanth. This festival is a place where you will see only festivities. Everyone being honoured, everyone enjoying. People have visual treat as they get so many films to watch. It is a journey since 1952, when this dream was conceived, on the footsteps of festivals like Cannes and Locarno. Today IFFI ranks amongst top 10 festivals.

How has IFFI Influenced Film Makers?

Today we can proudly say we make some of the best films in the world. Not only art films, but commercial movies too. We should thank IFFI for making us stand at this position today. If IFFI wasn’t there, many of us wouldn’t have the awards, recognition that what we have today.

Finally talk about your father K.P Kottarakara’s association with festivals?

My father never attended 1952 festival but after that he attended all the festivals. His film Pasamalar was also screened in the festival.

People surrounding him, friends, all his subordinates like Rishikesh Mukherjee, Tapan Sinha, Basu Da, B R Chopra, Shakti Samant, C. V. Sridhar and all those stalwarts, they all watch films. Their intention is not just see the film but learning the art of filmmaking. My father always used to say, if you want to make good films, watch films and the right place to watch films was IFFI. That time we never had any place, we never had DVDs, there was no internet. Only place where you got access to foreign films was IFFI.

Do you think festivals will continue to run in future despite the fact that new screens are emerging and technology is growing?

Till the time there are passionate filmmakers, the festivals will survive. It will only grow day by day and remain in the hearts of people because it’s a place where you watch the best films, speak to the great people who are involved with films, be a part of master class, learn things, learn from friends, fellow filmmakers, meet them and greet them. It’s a storehouse and like a huge library where you can watch lot of films, enjoy and build your career upwards.


IFFI Immensely Contributed to Indian Cinema

admin   November 24, 2019

IFFI has significantly contributed to the Indian cinema’s reach in markets around the world, says 82-year-old documentary and television filmmaker Dr S Krishnaswamy, who shared close rapport with legends like Satyajit Ray

The International Film Festival of India has a tremendous influence on India’s soft power and has significantly contributed to the Indian cinema’s reach in markets around the world, says 82-year old Dr S Krishnaswamy, well-known documentary and television filmmaker who has made over 500 films in a career spanning 55 years. He was the Secretary to the Jury of the 4th IFFI 1969 under the chairmanship of actor-director Raj Kapoor. He co-authored the book Indian Film with Erik Barnouw.

The other Jury members included Argentina’s Leopoldo Terre Niesson, noted writer R.K. Narayan, South Korea’s Han Chul Ryn (Critic), Poland’s Han Chul Ryn (Critic), Prof. Jerzy Toeplitiz (Critic from Sweden), actress and director Mai Zctterling from the UK, John Russet Taylor (Critic from USA), and Albert Johnson from the erstwhile USSR, among others.

“The 4th IFFI took place in the Convention Hall of the Ashoka Hotel,” remembers Dr Krishnaswamy during the time when cinema as an art form was taking shape. In addition to assisting the Jury, Dr Krishnaswamy also covered and wrote about the festival in The Hindu.

Dr Krishnaswamy is the son of legendary filmmaker late K Subrahmanyam, who was known for producing and directing the pathbreaking film Thyagabhoomi in 1937. He remembers his father attending IFFI in the beginning years.

Dr Krishnaswamy was active in the festival circuit for three decades and was instrumental in creation of festival for documentaries in India. During those days he was given the responsibility of creating market for Indian films in IFFI. “The focus was to get in touch with any potential importer abroad. The primary objective was to get together to match the film with the market. Art films had markets in USA and Europe. Art films could be sold in Indonesia. Some countries preferred only commercial films. The concept to promote Indian films was born out of IFFI”.

1969 IFFI Jury Members with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

Besides the Padmashri Award, he has received four national awards for his
documentaries, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the US International Film & Video Festival, Los Angeles, the Honor Summus Award of the Watamul Foundation, Hawaai, and so on.

Dr Krishnaswamy was a close friend of filmmaker Satyajit Ray. “He never visited Madras (now Chennai) without visiting me. Satyajit Ray was the biggest influence of Indian cinema to the world.”

“IFFI has immensely contributed to the promotion and growth of Indian cinema. IFFI has done a great contribution over the years. It has had a chequered career – sometimes it has been extraordinary important, sometimes insipid, but overall excellent years,” says Dr Krishnaswamy.

“My film ‘Through a Different Lens’, that depicted contributions made by Indian cinema to Indian freedom struggle, and how some films reflected the spirit of the freedom struggle, was picked up and shown in festivals worldwide. It was originally screened in the non-competitive section of IFFI,” remembers Dr Krishnaswamy.

Dr Krishnaswamy says that cinema is a “very complex art form” and film festivals should accommodate all kind of films and genres. “IFFI has accomplished this aspect very well. From highly artistic films to successful commercial films a film festival should reflect everything. It cannot isolate itself.”

The globalisation of Indian cinema had its origin in the IFFI in two senses: the influence of important global filmmakers on India; and the impact it had on directors like Balraj Sahni and Satyajit Ray. That was the beginning of the rise of Indian cinema and India’s soft power. Dr Krishnaswamy is revered for his documentary ‘Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi’.

“Very nobly conceived and most ably executed; but the miracle is that the producer survived it,” said Prof. James Beverige of UNESCO about Dr. Krishnaswamy’s four-hour documentary in 1976. It was the first Indian film distributed under a Hollywood banner – Warner Brothers, who acquired the film from Krishnaswamy Associates who had taken a huge risk by producing this marathon film on borrowed capital. The film was not only critically acclaimed, but was a fabulous commercial success. It traces Indian history of 5,000 years.

There is also an interesting fact about this film. “Sov Export Film bought my film and never released it. Because, although the film was commercial success in India and had been released elsewhere when Soviet Union had scheduled it for release, Morarji Bhai became Prime Minister. But when they bought the film Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. They thought it was politically incorrect to release this film. I told them it is not a political film. But they said, they thought that it was a political film and bought it thinking it was a political film. Eventually, they liked the film and released it changing the title to ‘Where Centuries Co-Exist’. It was released in several countries in this title — except where Warner Brothers had the rights.

Dr Krishanswamy is happy that the idea of shifting to IFFI to Goa to create an independent identity is accomplished. “I wish the golden jubilee of IFFI a great success.”


Make IFFI Window to World Cinema for Younger People

admin   November 24, 2019

Having a long-term association with IFFI and being part of the core team that played a crucial role in moving the festival to Goa in 2004, Indian film industry veteran Amit Khanna is well-versed with the transformation of the Festival over the years. In a chat with Pickle, Amit Khanna pours his heart out on the subject that is very close to his heart

Indian film industry veteran Amit Khanna’s association with International Film Festival of India (IFFI) goes back to 50 years when he was a student in a Delhi College. However, he was drawn into the industry when he came in close contact with noted Hindi film actor Dev Anand in 1969 while assisting him with the organisation of an inaugural IFFI dinner party the late actor threw in Delhi that was attended by who’s who of the national and international film fraternity.

This association, Amit Khanna recalls, continued unabated for many years and after “I was in Navketan Films, (production company launched by Dev Anand) we continued that tradition and he would always throw a party”.

Amit Khanna was part of IFFI organizing committee for many years. “I was part of the industry organization and our endeavour was to involve everybody from the industry by ironing out any differences whatsoever between different stakeholders,” he says.

He was part of the team that played a crucial role in moving the festival to a permanent location in Goa in 2004.

However before it could be done, a lot of ground work was done with the support of some visionary people in the government. “In 2003, Sushma Swaraj went to Cannes Film festival as part of the FICCI delegation. There she saw the sheer grandeur of the festival and said ‘let’s do it like this’. She was the first person who accepted the idea (to move IFFI to a permanent location) and set the ball rolling. Ravi Shankar Prasad and Arun Jaitley later followed it up. There was a committee set up later and then I think Congress had come into power.” The committee that was set up included Khanna, Yash Chopra, noted director Shekhar Kapoor and Bobby Bedi, Manmohan Shetty apart from one or two more people. “Despite best of our efforts, any decision on the matter did not seem to be forthcoming. So, we decided to meet Mr Manohar Parikar,” Amit Khanna says.

After some prodding, the late Goa Chief Minister left the matter to be decided by the committee. “Finally, a conference was convened and I announced it. Though we had gone ahead with the announcement independently, the government at the Centre understood our stance and IFFI got a permanent venue. I am happy that IFFI will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year in Goa,” he adds.

On the question of how the film festival has evolved over year, the industry veteran says that it has opened up a new chapter in Indian cinema. “In 1952, I think the first film festival was held in Bombay with new realism as its most powerful theme. New realistic films deeply impacted people like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and others. This led to progressive cinema like ‘Do
Beegha Zamin’ emerging out of India for the first time,” he observes.

He feels that this trend is here to stay in India “because no other country in the world has got such as strong local domestic industry”. But for that to happen, the emphasis should be on “good filmmakers getting ample exposure”.

“There should be lot of facilities for film students, for film technicians and younger filmmakers who need to travel to Goa to see films,” he suggests. According to Amit Khanna, making it cheaper budding filmmakers and film students to travel to Goa can go a long way in helping them develop better understanding of global cinema.

“Provisions should be made for the people to travel, whether through railways or any other means of transport, from major film centres in India like Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Trivandrum, Hyderabad, Bangalore, etc. If you want to expose Indian film technicians, film markets and film students
to global cinema at least this facility should be provided,” he opines.

Having a permanent auditorium for IFFI with a good number of screens, is another wish of Amit Khanna, who wants to see a world-class infrastructure for the festival to be developed sooner rather than later.

“We are not buying independent films from the world and showing it here because there are not enough screens for our own films. We have only 9,000 screens and we make 2,000 films in a year. Half of our films are not released. If you are unable to release foreign films there is no need to hold a market for them,” he says.

One of the many achievements of IFFI has been that it has been able to showcase Indian films to directors and programmers from other film industries, whether it is through Indian panorama or other sections, Amit Khanna admits. “These kinds of bridges should be built. That is the main role of a film festival in India.”

“I am proud of IFFI. It is good to see that India has a festival of international repute” he says, adding that had it not been for IFFI, I could have not seen films of masters like Luchino Visconti, Júlio Bressane, Jean-Luc Godard and had exposure to Latin American cinema or African cinema.

“It happened because of IFFI. That is the area which we need to emphasize and focus on,” Amit Khanna says.

He is also upbeat about emergence of other film festivals in India. Khanna adds that he wishes to see India becoming a country where the younger generation attends film festivals in large numbers. “That’s the whole idea of organising state festivals.”

While Amit Khanna backs promotion of films at regional level, he is also of the opinion that having big international names or upping the glamour quotient of film festivals simply won’t serve the desired purpose.

“If you invite big stars what will happen? You are wasting time, money and energy and the paraphernalia to organize the festival is so large.,” Amit Khanna says. The film industry veteran also suggests making “IFFI the window to world cinema for the younger people, film students, film fraternity, film enthusiasts and let’s call the programming guys from other festivals and showcase Indian cinema. Celebrate more cinema; parties and glamour is a side part”.

To ensure glamour at festivals like IFFI, efforts should be made to call only those stars whose films are to be featured at the festival.

One of the biggest achievements of India in recent years has been the initiative of opening a Film Facilitation Office, Amit Khanna adds. “I must compliment the Prime Minister who took the initiative and ordered setting up of the Film Facilitation Office.”

“The festival should be run by a small group of experts selected for a minimum period of 5 years. The Government should appoint juries for selecting films. Instead of having people who are no longer active, there is a need to involve younger people. The twin objective of IFFI in the coming decade should be ample exposure to young professionals and students to the world cinema and showcase Indian cinema to top festival programmers and critics from abroad,” sums up Amit Khanna.


The Adventure of a Lifetime

admin   November 24, 2019

As IFFI celebrates its Golden Jubilee year, we need to look back at the Festival’s five-decade-long exciting journey to assess where it has succeeded or failed so that our learning about world cinema and different cultures could be deepened further
By B B Nagpal

Cinema has a deeper cultural root in India than in any other country, since it has played the role of the best media for spreading information and education in a country which has a huge number of uneducated people.

The International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which was started in 1952, has played a major unifying role as it has helped greater understanding of different cultures and traditions within and outside the country.

Even as one approaches the Golden Jubilee of IFFI from 20 to 28 November, it is necessary to understand the history of the Festival and make an assessment of where it has succeeded or failed.

The Festival has become the prime festival of the entire developing world as it features not merely Asian but also African and Latin American directors in its competition.

India has led the world in terms of the number of feature films produced every year, and it was therefore natural that the Government of the day under India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru started the first IFFI 67 years earlier in 1952, though it became an annual event only in 1975.

The first Festival in 1952 — which was non-competitive — was expectedly held in Bombay which was the largest film production centre in the country. The second festival was held in 1961 and this was also non-competitive. But the Festival became competitive with the third edition in Delhi in 1965.

That year was also the first time that the Indian festival was graded ‘A’ category by the Paris-based Federation International De Producers De Films (FIAPF) coming on par with Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Karlovy Vary and Moscow festivals. The fourth IFFI in Delhi in 1969 was also competitive.

India adopted at its fifth festival in 1975 a permanent insignia comprising a representation of the peacock, India’s national bird, with a permanent motto – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum’ (The whole world is a family). It was also decided that a competitive IFFI would be held every alternative year in Delhi alternating with a non-competitive Filmotsav which would be held in different film producing centres each time.

Consequently, Delhi hosted a competitive IFFI from 1977 to 1987 every odd year and the non-competitive Filmotsav moved from one place to another in the even years. While the Indian Panorama had been introduced in the Festivals in 1978, the 1987 Festival was the first to feature commercial cinema with the introduction of the Mainstream Section. After that, the competition section was stopped but revived in 1996 and ultimately devoted to Asian cinema.

The Festival had thus been held in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad apart from Delhi until 2003.

In 2004, the Festival moved for the first time to a non-film producing centre when it came to Panaji in Goa which has since become its permanent venue. The duration of the Festival has also been reduced to nine days.

I have personally reported every IFFI from 1977 to 2012 as a journalist. In 2007, I became the first editor of the festival daily when it was outsourced, and even renamed it as IFFI Daily, and held this post five times. Expectedly, this led to my meeting a large number of film personalities from India and abroad – with many of whom I still maintain close contact. I also served as a member of the preview committee for some years around ten years earlier. The committee which met in Delhi shortlisted the films from the large number of entries received.

But the best memories I have is of the period when it was a travelling festival. I recall that in 1982 during the non-competitive IFFI in Kolkata (then Calcutta), I had the opportunity to meet the master cine craftsman
of India, Satyajit Ray. In fact, this was soon after his lone Hindi film for Doordarshan, ‘Sadgati’ and he candidly spoke about how some film critics reacted to the film and how they virtually invented interpretations about the film. I also remember his boisterous laugh over a remark made in Parliament by nominated member Nargis Dutt who had criticised the then Film Finance Corporation (now NFDC) for funding only art films of the kind Ray made.

I feel that the most lavish festival I have attended was the IFFI at Hyderabad in 1986 when the Chief Minister and actor N T Ramarao put the entire state machinery in the service of the Festival. I recall how a Bollywood actress who broke her sandals, she was given a bus just to go to a showroom to buy new sandals!

Years later in Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram), I recall visiting the famed filmmaker G Aravindan in 1988 during the Festival there, when he showed me sketches of some film ideas he had in mind. Unfortunately, he died a few years later and could not bring those ideas to fruition.

During the IFFI in 1992, I recall with gratitude the sumptuous home-cooked food I ate almost every day which the then Festival Director shared with me. The food came to her from the house of Kamal Haasan, and I am sure he still does not know that I partook of the food.

After the Festival moved to Goa, I remember veteran music director Anandji – who had come to Panaji as a section had been organised on films on music – telling me that music had lost its charm after the golden era of the fifties to seventies because music was being made not for the mind or the heart, but for dancing feet. The beat had taken over from lyricism. It was a truism which I will never forget.

And while talking about Goa, I am reminded of a festival for which I arrived just hours before the inauguration and had no time to register. The actor Suresh Oberoi who had flown in with me from Mumbai gave me his Silver VIP card, saying that he would in any case not be denied entry at the inauguration since he was a star. I will always be grateful to him for that gesture.

Unfortunately, I am reminded of a sad incident that occurred during a year when there was a section on films about football. We were attending an Open Forum when a director from a Latin American country whose film had been screened just collapsed on the dais and passed away moments after he had finished answering a question from the audience. It was a scary moment that refuses to go away.

For me, IFFI has been an adventure where I have learnt so much about the cinema and the culture of so many countries even as I enjoyed the films. I only wish the Festival would last a little longer and give us more opportunities for interaction with film delegates from India and abroad.


The Story of India’s Tryst with Cinema

admin   November 24, 2019

Started as part of the Government of India’s efforts to institutionalize the film industry, the International Film Festival of India is also the story of Indian cinema’s evolution since 1952. Here is how the story unfolded
By Manoj Srivastava

The first edition of the Film Festival was headed by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnani, Chief Producer, Films Division and organized with a budget of Rs. One Lakh only in five cities of India. The Festival began in Mumbai on January 24, 1952.

To a country that was heavily feeding on Hollywood ever since the WW-II, the arrival of European cinema was a revelation. In the words of Film Historian, B.D. Garga, “Of the 50 Feature Films screened from 25 countries, the largest number came from Italy, among them Roberto Rossellini’s Open City and Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Miracle in Milan, which came closest to the Indian socio-economic situation.”

The second edition of the Festival could not be organized till 1961 and then again, the third one in 1965, the fourth in 1969 and the fifth in 1974-75 because of various factors like wars, lack of funds and other multiple factors.

From the third edition onwards, in 1965, the International Film Festival of India became competitive and therefore graded as ‘A’ category festival by the Paris-based Federation International de Producers de Films (FIAFP). With this recognition, the festival in India came on par with Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Karlovy Vary and Moscow festivals.

The current logo and tagline of IFFI ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The World is One Family) and the Peacock were adopted during this edition. This was also the year after which the Government of India decided to take the initiative of ‘Filmotsav’, which was to be a non-competitive version of IFFI. The Festival hereafter was to be called IFFI (Competitive) and Filmotsav (Non-Competitive) and organized in alternative years. While IFFI was to be organized in New Delhi, the Filmotsavs were to be organized at major Indian film production centers like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Trivandrum by rotation. The pattern continued till 1989 after which the word’ Filmotsav’ was discarded and all Festival editions were named IFFI.

The Indian New Wave movement was gaining momentum in the 1970s and these films were finding spaces in international film festivals. However, these were costly times with no free flow of information about Festival participation. The Government of India introduced the Indian Panorama, a collection of 21 Best Indian Feature and Non-Feature films, which were to be converted into a package of films and sent for participation in foreign film festivals during the 6th edition of IFFI. Films and filmmakers under this umbrella were now promoted and sponsored by the government to sustain the movement. This edition also witnessed the emergence of the first regular Film Market set up by Indian Motion Picture Export Corporation.

Filmotsav’s Madras and Bangalore editions of 1978 and 1980 were visited by legends like Istvan Szabo, Sumitra Lester Peries, Emile de Antonio, Shyam Benegal,

Girish Karnad. Since then, each city got to host Filmotsav after a gap of almost 12 years. The local enthusiasm was tremendous. This enthusiasm further created space for art-house cinema and a fan following which led to setting up of other international Film Festivals like Kerala, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore almost 20 years later.

The French New Wave took almost 10 years to reach India but when it did, it ignited the young minds. Films like ‘Bhuvan Shome’ by Mrinal Sen (1969), ‘Us Ki Roti’ by Mani Kaul (1970), ‘Maya Darpan’ by Kumar Shahani (1972), ‘Swayamwaram’ by Adoor Gopalakrishnan (1972) found a ready domestic platform in IFFI to create an audience for Indian New Wave.

Roman Polanski, then 44-year-old, attended the Filmotsav, Bangalore in the Year 1980 as the Festival presented a retrospective of his films. Michael Cacoyannis, the noted Greek Filmmaker, too, attended the Festival which had Devika Rani Roerich as the Chief Guest.

Filmotsav 1982 began in Kolkata at the Rabindra Sadan. The Festival had a retrospective of Jean Luc Godard films and the tickets for all his films were sold in two hours.

In early 1990s, the complexion of Indian Cinema began to change again due to several factors like arrival of satellite television, Doordarshan, the state television, slowly losing its monopoly and control over Indian masses made a dent in the fan following of the Festival which till now had enjoyed complete madness and monopoly over the Indian masses supported by State-funded bodies like Directorate of Film Festivals, National Film Development Corporation, Doordarshan and others.

The 32nd edition of IFFI in Delhi ushered in the new century. Earlier, not many Hindi commercial films had been able to find space in any edition of IFFI except for ‘Parinda’ by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, but this edition had ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a supposedly commercial film with smattering of minimalism of art-house cinema-style sporadically.

The 33rd edition of IFFI at Bangalore could not take place due the flood situation in the State. This was the time when the Government of India began contemplating on an alternate venue and do away with the concept of a traveling film festival. Many places to root the Festival were suggested like New Delhi, Kochi, Pondicherry and Goa, and finally Goa was chosen.

The 33rd edition of IFFI took place in New Delhi pending a decision on Goa. The highlight of the Festival was 10 versions of ‘Devdas’ produced in various Indian languages. The competition was now restricted to Asian Films. The ‘Film Bazaar’, as seen today, took shape at this edition in Delhi’s Siri Fort Auditorium Complex.

Goa was the new high for the 35th IFFI. There was enthusiasm all around, hope, expectations and the film industry participated in full force. New venues like Inox Auditoria, a promenade was developed, roads were improved, special intersections created, existing buildings like Old Goa Medical College and Kala Academy were modified and restored. Thespian Dilip Kumar inaugurated the Festival along with the Governor and Chief Minister of Goa.

The 39th IFFI in 2008 launched a business platform for International Short films by the name Short Film Center. The Film Bazaar began to gain prominence with the Co-Production Market and the Film Lab.

Actor Ben Kingsley attend the 40th edition of IFFI in 2009 in Goa and delivered a Master Class. The Red Carpet was instituted at the Festival. Online ticketing was introduced.

Inaugurated by Shah Rukh Khan, the popular Indian actor, the Festival added a new venue in Margao, Rabindra Bhavan during the 42nd IFFI in Year 2011. The concept of Film Village was experimented with to accommodate the low budget Festival delegates

From 43rd IFFI onwards the Festival shifted its inaugural ceremony to Bam bolim Stadium to accommodate a crowd of over 9,000 in the Year 2016.


THE FUTURE IS IN THE PAST

admin   November 24, 2019

The International Film Festival of India gained a status that was on par with Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Karlovi Vary and Moscow because of the quality of its programming and freedom from bureaucratic hurdles. Even though the Festival has failed to live up to our expectations in the recent past, there is still hope that it can be restored to its past glory
By Bobby Bedi

As a student in Delhi in the 70’s I have vivid memories of the Film Festival. It was a big event and all of us hungered for tickets. Films like Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord, Milos Foreman’s “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, Coppola’s “Godfather”, and Conrad Rooks’ “Siddhartha” were the class of films screened. The premiere was at Vigyan Bhawan and the festival spread over many cinemas in Connaught Place and even Archana in Greater Kailash. Special guests included Frank Capra and Satyajit Ray, who chaired the third edition. It was recognized by FIAPF, it was considered at par with Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Karlovi Vary and Moscow International Film Festivals. It was run by an autonomous body funded by the Government of India. Tickets were priceless and we used all our connections to get even one. THAT WAS THE PAST.

Today, the Festival is run by the Directorate of Film Festivals and the Director, for many years, has been a bureaucrat. Administrative skills are naturally high, but domain knowledge is negligible. This has resulted in the festival becoming a very middling event and the quality of international cinema has declined.

A nascent Bollywood that should have been a key part of the Festival has stayed away from the Festival; a loss to both. The potential of cross influence has reduced.

Somewhere around early 2002, there was a change in thinking and it was felt that the Festival no longer gained from being in Delhi or itinerant in nature. The Festival should be anchored in a single destination like Cannes, Venice, and Berlin, etc.

Yash Chopra, Manmohan Shetty, Amit Khanna and I were part of a committee that explored the possibility of Goa as a location and with an unstinting and dedicated support from the then Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, the Festival shifted to Goa. The first edition was easily of the calibre of Cannes and Venice. There was a brandnew multiplex, The Kala Academy had been restored by Mario Miranda, the promenade was full of festivity and there were party boats on the river and motorboats to ferry delegates from the Fort Aguada Hotel to the venue. Many companies hosted private events around and Hyundai gave brand-new sedans branded with the Festival logo for delegate transportation.

The attendance was fantastic and the films a cut above the previous years. The world attended it as Goa was a great holiday destination.

AGAIN, THAT WAS THE PAST. It took two years for the event to lose its lustre. The enthusiasm of a start-up, driven by a very dynamic CM, gave in to the powers of routine bureaucracy. But this time there were two bureaucracies, the Centre and the State, and often different parties in the two positions. The result was predictable.

BUT AGAIN, THAT WAS THE PAST. Let’s now look at the future. There have often been suggestions that the festival should be privatized, that the
Industry should take over. This is barking up the wrong tree. There is absolutely no doubt that art and culture needs State support. Festivals all over the world run with state support and yet retain their excellence. A festival in India needs to be world class. After all we are a gigantic film industry. Cinema is integral to Indians and I would even stretch to say that it is one of India’s binding forces. This cannot happen without State support. The method has to change. And we do not need to invent this process. It is there all over the world. We need to study the different models of successful festivals, Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Berlin or even Busan and see what works for us.

I have been attending the Cannes Film festival every year since 1994. Their quality is unmatched, and it is State supported. The difference is that it is not run by the Government. So if need want to see IFFI of the future that is as glorious or more than the past we should adapt and adopt what the best in class are doing.

My broad suggestions are:

• Get a separate body along the lines of a FICCI or CII for the entertainment sector. Let it run independently of the Government.
• The Central Government specify its objectives clearly. This could include Trade objectives, Cultural Objectives, language promotion, local cinema promotion, etc.
• Let the Goa Government clearly specify its own objectives, be it tourism or the local entertainment industry, etc.
• Let these objectives be very clearly articulated in measurable terms. Let the new body draw up budgets and propose to fund the process through grants from the Centre, State, Sponsors and Industry.

Give them a bit of time to set this up and then let their performance be measured against the clearly set objectives. If they are close to fulfilling them, let them be. Do not interfere at all and we will have a great Film Festival.

THE FUTURE WILL BE AS GLORIOUS AS THE PAST.



Featured Post

The Big Bachchan of Bollywood

admin   November 21, 2019

The name Amitabh Bachchan is synonymous to Indian cinema. From acting, anchoring, singing to even lending his voice to various shows, the actor’s contribution to cinema has been immense in numerous ways. And even after 50 glorious years in the industry, the megastar continues to rule the roost. The Indian government will acknowledge Amitabh’s achievements and contribution to Bollywood at the upcoming international Film Festival in Goa by honouring him with the most coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award

by Poornima Bajwa Sharma

“Basically I am just another actor who loves his work and this thing about age exits only in media,” Amitabh Bachchan once shared in one of his interviews. Well, we can’t agree more as Amitabh is the only actor who is perhaps giving new age actors, a run for their money, even after spending so many years in this industry.

Big B started his film career in 1969 with the film Saat Hindustani, his only Black and White movie. The film was well received by the critics, who were bowled over by young Amitabh’s performance and declared him as the upcoming superstar on the block.

Cut to 2019, Big B is today a living legend and is busy doing equally good work. His recent films like Pink and Badla are testimony of his award-winning performances till date.

Besides conquering the film industry, Big B is the only actor who has been ruling the small screen too for almost two decades now. Ayiye deviyon aur sajjanon! hum aur aap khelte hain Kaunbanega crorepati” has been resonating in every household at night, since 3rd July 2000, till today.

From 13 million followers on Twitter to a separate Wikipedia page devoted only to the awards he has won, there are enough reasons why it has been suggested that Bollywood can certainly be called ‘Bachchan’!

The International Film Festival of India, slated to happen in Goa from November 20-28 this year, will be acknowledging all these glorious years of Amitabh Bachchan and his incredible contribution to the Indian cinema. The mega star will be hounoured with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award at the do that will also screen six films of the actor.

So, while, the entire industry and his ardent fans are looking forward to the special occasion where Amitabh Bachchan will add another feather to his cap, here’s a look at what his colleagues from the industry, have to say about him.

Amitabh Bachchan had already arrived. With hits like Zanjeer, Abhimaan and Nama Haram to his credit, the actor got an incredible push in his career when Ramesh Sippy casted him for his movie Sholay. The 1975 film is till date the biggest movie of Amitabh’s career and of the Indian cinema too. It was destined for Amitabh to be a part of such an iconic film as Sippy shared how he first thought of casting Shatrugan Sinha in the film. But since, he was already busy with other films, the role landed in Big B’s kitty. And rest, they say, is history! Big B and Sippy ruled again in 1980 with another blockbuster Shaan.