The preparations for 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) have begun in full swing. IFFI’s Golden Jubilee edition will be remembered for a long time for a string of things from honouring film industry legends Rajinikanth and Amitabh Bachchan to high profile International Jury for Competition Films.
IFFI 2020 is being planned as exciting as that of the golden jubilee edition, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is expected to be as wide-ranging and bigger as its last year edition. IFFI 2020 will celebrate 100 years of India’s legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray. The 9-day cinematic feast will embrace the works of a wide variety of filmmakers across the world with masterclasses, knowledge series and Film Bazaar.
IFFI is thrilled that South Korean film Parasite which had its India Premiere at IFFI Goa 2019 won Oscars for Best Picture. The film is running successfully in theatres now. IFFI is on the lookout for International Jury members for IFFI 2020 and some big names are expected to be part of it.
At the virtual Cannes Film Market, IFFI is meeting up with film executives, sales agents, festival heads to collaborate and looking at curating another edition of fabulous films from across the globe. IFFI will also have knowledge sessions, master classes and open forum besides festival films.
Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its pre-eminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. It has over the years witnessed numerous alterations in character, nomenclature, location, dates and duration. Through it all, it has remained steadfast in its emphasis on showcasing the diversity of Indian cinema as well as in its commitment to the celebration of excellence across moviemaking genres.
Over the past two and a half decades, several other international film festivals have sprung up across India, notably in Kolkata, Kerala and Mumbai, and they all contribute meaningfully to the collective task of taking quality cinema to people weaned principally on a staple diet of star driven, song and dance extravaganzas. But IFFI continues to retain its pre-eminent position owing to its size, scope and vintage.
Not just in the Indian context but also in relation to the other major Asian film festivals, IFFI matters. And this is despite all the inevitable ups and downs that it has seen over the years.
All the other major Asian festivals – Tokyo, Busan and Shanghai – are of far more recent origin and therefore lack the history that is associated with IFFI. IFFI hands out prize money to the tune of US$ 200,000. The winner of the Golden Peacock for the best film takes home $80,000. That apart, the best director and the Special Jury Prize winner bag $30,000 each, while the two acting prizes come with a cash component of $20,000 each.
IFFI also confers two Lifetime 375 India’s Only Film BIZ magazine for the world http://www.pickle.co.in Achievement Awards – one to an international film personality, the other to an Indian great. The moves to push IFFI up a few notches have unfolded since the coastal state of Goa became its permanent venue in 2004. IFFI now has a far more settled feel than ever before, with each improvement in terms of infrastructure and programming initiatives adding value to both the event and the location.
On the programming side, IFFI not only unveils the best films from around the multilingual country with the aim of providing a glimpse of the sheer range and dynamism of Indian cinema, it also puts together a remarkable slate of brand new world cinema titles.
IFFI also hosts many retrospectives, tributes, master classes and special sections, which enhance the variety and depth of the event. The master classes have emerged as a highlight of the festival, especially for film school students who converge in Goa during the ten-day event.
India’s first international film festival was organized within five years of the nation attaining Independence. It was a non-competitive event held in 1952 in Bombay (Now Mumbai). A special feature of the inaugural function was the screening of the first film screened in India in 1896 by the Lumiere brothers. Frank Capra was part of the American delegation that attended the festival.
After a fortnight-long run in Bombay, the festival travelled to Calcutta (now Kolkata), Madras (now Chennai) and Delhi. The first international film festival of India is rightfully credited with triggering a burst of creativity in Indian cinema by exposing young Indian filmmakers to the best from around the world, especially to Italian neo-realism.
Six decades on, IFFI continues to provide a useful platform to young Indian filmmakers who work outside the mainstream distribution and exhibition system and in languages that do not have access to the pan-Indian market that Hindi cinema has.
The Indian Panorama, a section that is made up of both features and non-features, opens global avenues for films made by veterans and newcomers alike.
IFFI now has a permanent home in Goa. The coastal state has benefited appreciably from the shift. Its cinema has received a huge fillip in the decade and a half that Panaji has hosted IFFI. Filmmakers in the coastal state have been increasingly making their mark on the national and international stage.