Packed into the nine-day festival were 200- odd films from 76 countries, which offered cineastes a wide sampling of last year’s most lauded works, besides a slew of landmark films of historical worth from across the world.
The 50th edition of Asia’s oldest international film festival was a major success. Packed into the nine-day festival were 200- odd films from 76 countries, which offered cineastes a wide sampling of last year’s most lauded works, besides a slew of landmark films of historical worth from across the world.
The best of contemporary world cinema apart, IFFI 2019 brought to film fans in Goa an impressive array of films from the past, including a package of nine previous winners of the Golden Peacock, the festival’s top trophy that now comes with a cash prize of over $55,000.
The Golden Peacock retrospective included the 1963 winner, Changes in the Village, directed by Lester James Peries, who is regarded as the father of Sri Lankan cinema. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan (2014) was also in the segment along with James Ivory’s The Bostonians (1984), Miklos Jancso’s Hungarian Rhapsody (1979), Samira Makhmalbaf’s At Five in the Afternoon (2003) and Sergey Dvortsevoy’s Tulpan (2008). The sole Indian film in the selection of Golden Peacock winners was the Bengali film MonerManush (2010), directed by Goutam Ghose.
A bunch of equally fancied names were part of IFFI’s Festival Kaleidoscope, which showcased films that earned critical accolades. Led by Bong Joonho’s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, this section includes several other titles that premiered in Cannes: Mati Diop’s Atlantique, Jessica Hausner’s Little Joe and Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
Another commemorative segment aimed at underlining the special status of the 50th edition of IFFI was a retrospective of Oscar- winning films. Entries in this section ranged from Casablanca, Gone With the Wind and Ben-Hur to The Godfather, Forrest Gump and The Silence of the Lambs. All About Eve, The Best Years of Our Lives, Lawrence of Arabia and The Sound of Music completed the line-up of Oscar winners.
All eyes were also on the ‘filmmaker in focus’ Takashi Miike, a Ken Loach mini-retrospective, two restored Indian classics (RitwikGhatak’s Titas Ekti Nadir Naam and Uday Shankar’s Kalpana) plus Master Frames and Festival Kaleidoscope, sections devoted to films hailed in Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto.
Six films were screened as part of the Takashi Miike retrospective. The package included the relatively mellow The Bird People of China. The other Miikefilms in IFFI are Audition (1999), with which the maverick Japanese director known for his no-holds-barred depiction of violence and sexual excess began to acquire international fame; Ichi the Killer, a manga adaptation that is still banned in several countries; the yakuza thriller Dead or Alive; the samurai film 13 Assassins; and First Love, which played in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight this year.
The 50th IFFI competition had assembled 15 films that gave the fivemember jury headed by John Bailey, veteran Hollywood cinematographer and former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, plenty to choose from. As for the composition of the jury, IFFI had rarely got it better than it has done this time. As president of the main competition
jury, Bailey worked with four top-flight filmmakers: Scotland’s Lynne Ramsay, France’s Robin Campillo, China’s Zhang Yang and India’s Ramesh Sippy.
The competition line-up included two Indian titles: Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Anant Mahadevan’s Mai Ghat Crime No. 103/2005. Among the other films in the IFFI 2019 competition were Pema Tseden’s rural- Tibet set Chinese production Balloon, Ali Aydin’s Turkish entry Chronology, Swiss filmmaker Blaise Harrison’s first fiction feature Particles, Brazilian actor Wagner Moura’s historical epic Marighella, Indonesian director Yosep AnggiNoen’s The Science of Fictions and the Slovenian film Stories from the Chestnut Woods, directed by Gregor Bozic.
World Panorama also had the Canadian film Coda, directed by Claude Lalonde. Master Frames brought together 19 films by directors such as Pedro Almodovar (Pain and Glory), Olivier Assayas (Wasp Network), Hirokazu Kore-eda (The Truth, Roy Andersson (About Endlessness), Costa Gavras (Adults in the Room), Roman Polanski (An Officer and a Boy, Goran Paskaljevic (Despite the Fog), Werner Herzog (Family Romance LLC), Atom Egoyan (Guest of Honour).
Russia was the focus country at IFFI. Speaking on the joint production of films and cultural exchange through films, Russian Ambassador to India 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 Maria Lameshev said that there was a great interest for Russian films among Indian people. She added that according to the coproduction agreement, 40 percent of budget of the film would be given back by the Ministry of Culture.
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.