In the year 2015, Raja Bundela, a dynamic alumnus, from the National School of Drama and Film & Television Institute of India, took it upon himself to carve a place for films in the hitherto virgin area of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Known as Bundelkhand. He was successful in convincing the government of MP and their various departments of Culture and Tourism to help materialise his dream. The first Khajuraho International Film Festival was thus born on 25th April 2015 in a glittering ceremony attended by stalwarts like Ramesh Sippy, Manmohan Shetty, Vikas Mohan, Prakash Jha, Govind Nihaliani, Om Puri, Tom Alter, Deepti Naval, Meeta Vashist, Susmita Mukherjee, Ramesh Taurani, Ali Peter John and many other dignitaries. The festival was flagged off by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Khajuraho International Film Festival ‘16 saw a steep and joyous jump at all levels as local population clamoured to see this new event which they had never experienced before in their quiet region, mainly known for its dance festival and seasonal tourism. Since there were no movie theatres available in Khajuraho, 2016 introduced the unique concept of ‘Tapra Talkies’ in which the audiences sat in a make shift ‘Tapra’ or tent watching films screenings. Tapra Talkies was inaugurated by Shri Manmohan Shetty and the first film to be screened was Academy Award winning director Jeffrey D. Brown’s ‘Sold’.

Khajuraho International Film Festival ‘17 will be flagged off on the 16th of December 2017 by the CM of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vice President of India Shri Venkiah Naidu has been invited for the closing ceremony. Since there was an overwhelming crowd last year, with limited sitting capacity, this year the festival will also be spilling over into the neighbouring towns of Chattarpur and Panna.

Raja Bundela dreamt of a film festival which would offer a bouquet of regional films, children films, tribal films, films on women and main stream cinema. Khajuraho International Film Festival is not an elitist’s festival where the intelligence and bureaucracy are doled out free passes but a people’s festival where the rural population come out in large numbers to witness the culture of film viewing in creative spaces. The aim is to create an ‘Utsav’ or ‘Mela’ where the community  actively commute together, sometimes on tractors and bullock carts, eat together and view select and award winning films together ,which they may not have got an opportunity earlier to ever see in their region. The three hour long ethnic and cultural event presented every evening of the festival is a huge attraction. One hour of ethnic, cultural traditional dance forms while the remaining two hours are interspersed with contemporary form of creative expression including sizzling Bollywood events by invited artists from Mumbai.

In a region where people struggle hard to sustain their livelihoods and are often at the mercy of nature for their sustenance, an annual seven day cultural festival during the cold winter month of December, eating roasted peanuts and watching a wide plethora of varied films in happy artistic spaces is a delicious change. It is universally believed that when people are exposed to art and culture it stops the society from becoming rigid and regressive.  Some years ago China saw a steep decline in people going to the cinema halls, the government then decided to subsidise the cost of the tickets and the industry started breathing again. The same situation is happening in India as the single screen cinemas are turning into more lucrative Malls and the multiplexes are slowing shutting down due to lack of viewers

This is where film festivals come in to recreate interest in cinema. When people watch various flavours of films in different languages they get an idea of world view and they are able to form their own taste rather than depending upon whatever is force fed to them. Since the inception of KIFF in 2015 a new phenomena has emerged, as youngsters excited by the festival have started making their own short films, sometimes relying only on their phones and on You Tube videos to help them. Last year 2016 KIFF provided a platform for these young filmmakers to exhibit their work and the teams were felicitated on stage during the festival. This has led to further excitement as KIFF has announced a short film competition to select emerging filmmakers from the region, the winners of which are likely to be contenders for scholarships to study their crafts in Mumbai.

In 1994 Raja Bundela had formed his media company Prayaas productions which had over the years made several television shows for Sony, Zee, Doordarshan, NEPC etc. , feature films and its sister concern Natak Company had produced several theatrical productions. However Khajuraho International Film Festival is a very big dream and it needs the support of the entire film industry to keep the interest of movie goers alive in the B & C towns. The support can be in the form of engaging in discussions, offering master classes, sending films, conducting workshops or any other valued exchange of energy. Khajuraho International Film Festival’s aim is to create events, spaces, and opportunities to nurture, encourage and develop contemporary forms of creative expression.

Two years ago, seeds of Khajuraho International Film Festival were sown which has now blossomed into a plant but the dream remains to make it one of the biggest trees of Cinema in the country, nurturing it at the grass roots where it belongs. The growth has been immense over the last two years and as Khajuraho International Film Festival steps in to its third edition, there is a constant endeavour to exceed all expectations beyond imagination with the goal to make it one of the most respected film festivals not only in India, but across the globe.

We are looking forward to welcoming Shekhar Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Prem Chopra, Anurag Basu, Manmohan Shetty, Ramesh Sippy, Ramesh Taurani, Govind Nihalani, Kulmeet Makkar, Anjum Rajabali, Mita Vashisth, Meghna Ghai Puri, Vivek Agnihotri, Pallavi Joshi, Kanwaljeet Singh, Anuradha Patel, Bharti Achrekar, Govind Namdev, Sushant Singh, Amit Behl, Pankuj Parasher and many other luminaries who have confirmed to grace the third Khajuraho International Film Festival with their valuable presence.

“I loved the enthusiasm of the Festival hosted in such a small town. The local talents, the films and the cultural events were simply amazing.”  Veteran Actress Tanuja

“Everything was organised to perfection and I simply loved to be a part of this festival.” Boney Kapoor

“It was a wonderful experience to be a part of Khajuraho International Film Festival.” Prakash Jha

“I was extremely delighted to witness such a fantastic film festival.” Ramesh Sippy

“It was really exciting to be part of Khajuraho international Film Festival. I loved the dance performances and it was really wonderful to see the local children and performers. It’s very inspiring.” Neerja Naik, Executive Producer and Actress of Hollywood Film ‘Sold’ directed by Academy Award Winning Director Jeffrey D. Brown.

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