IFFI Spectacle Enthrals @50

By Pickle  December 2, 2019

The Golden Jubilee edition of IFFI witnessed over 200 acclaimed films from 76 countries , with Russia as the country of focus. It also included 26 feature
films and 15 non-feature films in Indian panorama section. More than 10,000 film lovers participated over its nine days of star-studded gala ceremonies and knowledge sessions

Delivering on its promise to keep thousands of film fans, critics, theatre artists, aspiring actors and industry professionals captivated during the nine days of cinematic revelry in Goa, the Golden Jubilee celebrations of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) managed to bring the best of world cinema and talent under one roof.

One of Asia’s oldest festivals, IFFI saw a grand opening on 20th November at Dr Shyama Prasad Stadium, Bambolim. It was graced by stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth, besides various senior dignitaries from the Government of India including Minister of Information & Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Shri Amit Khare and Chief Minister of Goa Dr. Pramod Sawant. With more than 7,000 delegates, 200 landmark films from 76 countries, knowledge sessions, masterclasses, awards ceremony, cultural programmes, World Panorama and Kaleidoscope, and IFFI Film Bazaar, the cinematic extravaganza got bigger and better this time. Besides the festivities associated with the Festival, IFFI @50 also served as a prominent platform
to network, learn and enhance knowledge about the nuances of film making.

Opening Ceremony

Hosted by master of entertainment Shri Karan Johar, the opening ceremony was flagged off by the great doyen of Indian cinema Shri Amitabh Bachchan and the ‘Thalaiva’ of Indian film industry Shri Rajinikanth, in the presence of Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar and other official dignitaries. Shri Rajinikanth was conferred the ‘Icon Of Golden Jubilee Award’ for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema, a first time award beginning with the 50th edition. One of French cinema’s defining faces actress Ms. Isabelle Anne Madeleine Huppert was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The inaugural ceremony also witnessed some enthralling audio visual performances which kept the audience spellbound through the evening. Noted music singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan and his band won the hearts with a spectacular performance.

Opening Film

The 50th edition of IFFI began with the screening of the Italian film Despite the Fog. The film journeys into the plight of refugees who are abandoned on the streets. In the film, Paolo, a manager at a restaurant finds an eight-year-old child on the cold streets and decides to take him home. The director delves into how society reacts to the presence of the child.

Speaking about the film, Director Goran Paskaljevic said, “It’s an intimate story. There are many films already done on the subject. But this is a story about whether people accept or don’t accept refugees in Europe and most cases they don’t. It serves a metaphor to explore the xenophobic fog prevalent in the region.”

Mariella Li Sacchi, one of the producers, stated that “the film isn’t a mainstream film, but a political statement”.

Legends of Indian cinema Ilaiyaraja, Prem Chopra, Manju Borah, Aravind Swamy and Haubam Paban Kumar were felicitated on the closing ceremony

Multimedia Exhibition

Adding yet another dimension to the IFFI experience this year was a one of its kind hi-tech digital, interactive and multimedia exhibition put up by the Bureau of Outreach and Communication and National Film Archives of India (NFAI) at Darya Sangam, near Kala academy. Named IFFI@50 the exhibition traced the journey of IFFI over the last five decades as it showcases Indian cinema to the world while also providing a platform in India for showcasing world cinema.

The exhibition leveraged novelhi- tech features like Zoetrope (moving picture creative installation), 360 bullet shot, 360 degree immersive experience area, augmented reality experience, vertical digital display panels, virtual reality tools, hologram technology, etc to create a self-learning historical experience for the viewers.

Panoramic view of the venue at the 50th International
Film Festival of India (IFFI-2019)

Amitabh Bachchan Retrospective

Shri Amitabh Bachchan inaugurated the Dadasaheb Phalke Award retrospective organised at Kala Academy during IFFI. Speaking at the launch, the veteran actor said, “I feel deeply humbled and would thank the Government of India for this prestigious award. I’ve always felt that I’m not deserving of such recognition but I humbly accept this with a lot of grace
and affection”.

Calling cinema a universal medium Shri Bachchan added that films are beyond the borders of language. The actor expressed hope that we continue to make films that will bring people together.

Indian Panorama

The Indian Panorama section of the 50th edition of IFFI opened with the screening of National Award winning Gujarati film ‘Hellaro’ directed by Shri Abhishek Shah in the feature film category at INOX in Panjim, Goa. A Kashmiri film ‘Nooreh’, directed by Shri Ashish Pandey, opened the non-feature film category at Indian Panorama. The other selections in the feature film category included five Marathi films — ‘Tujhya Aaila’,
‘Anandi Gopal’, ‘Bhonga’, ‘Mai Ghat’ and ‘Photo-Prem’. This category also included three films each in Malayalam and Bengali, two in Tamil and one Kannada film.

The feature film category also had a sub-section on mainstream cinema, under which popular films like ‘Gully Boy’, ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike’, ‘Super 30’ and ‘Badhaai Ho’ were screened. Telugu film ‘F2’ was also screened under this category.

IFFI Steering Committee Member and Director, Rahul Rawail felicitating Director
and Producer, Farah Khan at the 50th International Film Festival of India

NFAI Calendar

The NFAI Calendar 2020 was launched by I&B Secretary Shri Amit Khare. The calendar focuses on the musical instruments in Indian Cinema featuring 24 rare images from the collection of the archive. A rich compilation of the treasure of Indian musical instruments in Indian Cinema, the calendar features rare images of Raj Kapoor playing Tamboora (Valmiki, 1946); Jayashree Gadkar playing Veena (Seeta Maiya, 1964); Vishnupant Pagnis playing Ektara (Narsi Bhagat, 1940); P L Deshpande
playing Tenor Banjo (Gulacha Ganapati, 1953); Sivaji Ganesan playing Nadaswaram (Thillana Mohanambal, 1968); Neralattu Rama Poduval playing Idakka (Thampu, 1978); Raj Kumar playing Shehnai (Sanadhi Appanna, 1977), Kalpana playing Violin (GejjePooje, 1970), Kishore Kumar playing Harmonium (Shabash Daddy, 1978), etc.

Oscar Retrospective

A session on Oscar Retrospective was held on Day 1 at IFFI Goa. Moderated by Journalist and film critic Naman Ramachandran, the session had the Festival Director, ADG, Diretorate of Film Festivals (DFF), Chaitanya Prasad along with the editor of American Film Editor who also worked on the restored version of Casablanca, Ms. Carol Littleton. “We have grown up watching these films and admiring them. To be able to see these films on big screen is an experience in itself,” said Mr Prasad.

Ms Littleton spoke about how huge amount of efforts involved behind Oscars. “We work throughout the year. There are outreach programmes, workshops, seminars to make technicians technically sound. We also look at science of making films. Artistic and scientific sides both are important for making a film,” she said.

The specially curated “Homage Section” paid tribute to 13 eminent individuals who have contributed to Indian cinema during their lifetime

Country Focus-Russia

This year, Russia was the focus country at IFFI. Speaking on the joint production of films and cultural exchange through films, Russian Ambassador to India Mr. Nikolay Kudashev said that such efforts will bring the spirit of India and Russia together. Head of Russian delegation
at IFFI and Editor in Chief of Kinoreporter Ms. Maria Lameshev said that there was a great interest for Russian films among Indian people. She added that according to the co-production agreement, 40 percent of budget of the film would be given back by the Ministry of Culture. She extended her support in facilitating meetings for possible co-productions in future.

Eight Russian films–Abigail, Acid, Andrei Tarkovsky: A Cinema Prayer, Beanpole, Great poetry , Once in trubchevsk , Why don’t you just die!, and The Hero- -were screened in the Country Focus section of IFFI this year.

Accessible India – Accessible Films

A joint collaboration between IFFI, Saksham Bharat and UNESCO, the 50th IFFI edition screened three films for those with special needs with an aim to promote the creation of inclusive spaces for the differently-abled through audio description. The section opened with ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ directed by Rajkumar Hirani. Attending the festival for the first time, actress Taapsee Pannu said that she was surprised to know such films were made. “I’ve not seen films that use audio to explain the scenes; so I wanted to surely see how it’s done,” she said. The other films screened were ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’, ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’ and the Konkani film ‘Questao De Confusao’ with additional narration for the visually impaired.

Singer and Music Composer, Hariharan, Lesle Lewis and Tanushree Shankar being felicitated, at the closing ceremony of the 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2019)

Open Forum

The 2019 edition of the Open Forum organised by the Federation of the Film Societies of India opened with the pertinent topic: Focus on IFFI @50: Flash Back and Moving Forward. The session was inaugurated by Chaitanya Prasad, Festival Director, ADG, Directorate of Film Festival (DFF), Kiran Shantaram, President, Federation of Film Societies of India, AK Bir, Filmmaker and Chairman of Technical Committee, IFFI 2019, Alexey Govorukhin, Executive Producer, Kinoreporter Magazine, Russia and Marianne Borgo, actress from France.

I congratulate the entire IFFI team for a grand Golden celebrations of IFFI 2019 with impeccable choice of films. It was a great learning experience for filmmaker’s like us to network and understand the wide range of language of cinema Chandrakant Singh, Film Maker

Celebrating Constitution Day

Films Division, Government of India, Mumbai celebrated ‘Constitution Day’ on 26th November. Three documentaries: ‘Our Constitution’, ‘India’s Struggle for Freedom: We the People of India’ and ‘Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’, were screened to mark the occasion. The widely publicized screening of these films was open to all and free.

Film Education

An open forum held at IFFI brought to fore the urgent need for monitoring the quality of education being imparted by various film institutes in the country. Present at the session were panelists – Filmmaker, Cinematographer and Script writer A K Bir, Filmmaker M K Shankar, Filmmaker Ajay Bedi and Head of department, SRM School of Film Technology, R D Balaji. The panellists also raised concern about the mushrooming of film institutes and the affect that it has in reality on students. The session was moderated by Shashwat Gupta Ray, Resident Editor of Gomantak Times who opined that there are more than 100 film institutes, almost 1400 mass communication institutes that claim to teach the art of filmmaking.

Memorable IFFI

The golden jubilee edition brought to the shores of Goa the best of recent International cinema, along with special sections such as Golden Peacock Retrospective, Debut Film Competition, Soul of Asia retrospective, Master Film makers collection, Festival Kaleidoscope section, Accessible Films for Differently Abled, World Panorama 2019, Filmmaker in Focus, Restored Indian Classics, ICFT-UNESCO Gandhi Medal competition, Retrospective of Indian New Wave Cinema , Konkani Film Package and Dadasaheb Phalke Award. The 50th edition of IFFI also showcased fifty films of fifty women directors which reflect the contribution of women in cinema.

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