By Pickle  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.


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


India Enchants John Bailey

The Big Bachchan of Bollywood


IFFI 50 & Fantastic-Lifetime Achievement Award to Isabelle Huppert





Infusing Life With Dubbing AT VR Films & Studios

Transforming Hollywood from pixels to voxels

Government of India committed to Safeguard IP content: Commerce Secretary

Must do Things at AFM

Why India Attracts Foreign Filmmakers

Architect of AMAZEMENT

Pickle at MIPCOM 2019


Super Audio: Licensed to Thrill

Jungle Book Season 3 Ready

Sailing well in Animation Waters

Issuance of VPL in India

Editor’s Note: 44th Toronto International Film Festival Pickle Sept 2019 Edition


Seven Indian Indie Filmmakers To Watch

Indian Cinema Of Today: A Culturally Responsive Artifact

Indie Resurgence

Indian Films At Toronto a Sparkling Quartet

A Call From Uttarakhand For Filmmakers Of The World

IFFI Matters @ 50

Four Indian Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019

India Pavilion at Toronto International Film Market 2019

Made in Afghan Film ‘Hava, Maryam, Ayesha’ To Compete at Venice Festival

Keerthy Suresh: The Mahanati of Mahanati. Best Actress, National Film Award

Uttarakhand Bags National Award for Most Film Friendly State

66th National Film Awards Winners for 2018

Watan Adds Colour to Indian Independence Day

dream hampton and Brie Miranda Bryant to Feature in MIPCOM’S Women in Global Entertainment Lunch 2019

Making a Song and Dance of it

NFDC Invites Applications for Production of Films in Indian Languages; Deadline September 8, 2019

IFFI Calls for Entry for Indian Panorama in 50th Edition

Ease of Filming in India

Come, Film In Inida

Why TikTok wants to invest $1 billion in India?

Priyanka Chopra’s The Sky is Pink Set to Premiere in 2019 Toronto Internaitonal Film Festival’s Gala Section

Gitanjali Rao’s Animation Feature Bombay Rose to open Critics’ Week at Venice International Film Festival

76th Venice International Film Festival to Open With Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’

Indian Cinema’s Soft Power Misses the Mark in Nirmala Sitharaman’s Maiden Budget Speech

Shahid’s Kabir Singh Becomes Top-Grossing Film of 2019

Finance Minister Proposes FDI Norm Relaxation in Media

Media & Entrtainment as Champion Sector Figures in the Economic Survey 2018-19

Indian Cinema’s Steady Rise on Global Stage

Glimpses of the future

IFFI Marching Towards 50th Edition

India – Revolution Over The Top

Cannes or Netflix? Is Netflix an acceptable remediation for Cannes’ decades-long little regard for Indian Cinema?

Play Small & Live Long Did Wonders for Me

India at its Heart, Blockbuster Breaks Many Rules in China

Are Multiplexes Temples of Cinema or Churches of Ads and Snacks?: Pierre Assouline

Setting Eyes on New Frontiers

Get Ready For Mipcom: A Quick Guide

Asghar Farhadi’s ‘Everybody Knows’ to Open Cannes Film Festival



About Us

Contact Us

Connect With Us