THE CHANGING SCENARIO OF INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALS OF INDIA
Goa is going to host 49th International Film Festival of India in Nov this year. This will be the 15th International Film Festival of India to be held in Goa in succession, the first being in the year 2004. Goa is the only state to have this unique privilege of hosting IFFI continuously for 15 years in one state. International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has undergone many changes over last 20 years. I have the privilege of attending all IFFIs and Filmotsavs since 1983 as a very regular delegate of IFFIs and travelled all over India along with IFFIs. As such, I am going to share my personal experience in this article.
49th IFFI is going to enter 66thyear, when the first International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was held in Mumbai in 1952. After travelling through various cities and undergoing various organizational and structural changes, it finally reached Goa in 2004. With the BJP Govt. coming in the centre, Goa was finally declared as the permanent venue for hosting the International Film Festivals of India in 2014.
It is for the third time that this year, 49th IFFI at Goa will be held only for 9 days i.e from 20th to 28th Nov 2018, as compared to 11 days in previous years. In fact there have been many changes in duration and the dates of IFFI/ Filmotsavs ever since I was given accreditation of delegate status by Ministry of I&B/DFF in the year 1983.This was the time when there was no registration fee as compared to Rs. 1000/- now. Initially, IFFIs were held in the month of Jan every year from 3rd to 17th Jan for 15 days at Vigyan Bhavan. Jan is the coldest month of the year in Delhi. One could see delegates wearing all colors of wollen clothes, wraped in woolen shawls during IFFIs at that time. 9th IFFI was the first IFFI to be held in newly constructed Siri Fort Auditorium in 1983. The 10th IFFI was, however, held back at Vigyan Bhawan again in 1985. All the subsequent IFFIs were held at Siri Fort Auditoria I to IV. Initially Auditorium I (Main Hall) was constructed in 1983 and then Auditoria II, III and IV were added subsequently over the years.
It was in 1987, during 11th IFFI at Sirifort that the dates of the IFFI were changed as 10th to 24th Jan in place of 3rd to 17th Jan earlier. This continued for 3 years up to 1989. The duration of the IFFIs was reduced from 15 days to 11 days during IFFIs held from 1990 to 2000. The 32nd IFFI proposed to be held at Bangalore in 2001 was cancelled due to draught conditions in Karnataka. The dates of the IFFI held in 2002 at Siri Fort were preponed as 1st Oct to 10th Oct 2002. The dates of IFFI 2003 were again changed as 09th Oct to 19th Oct 2003. The first IFFI at Goa was held in Nov 2004. All the IFFIs at Goa from 2005 to 2011 were held from 22/23/24 Nov to 02/03/04 Dec. The dates were again changed to 20th Nov to 30th Nov in IFFI 2012 because of lot of resistance from the public of Goa for coinciding with the big Mass in first week of December every year.
The first IFFI was held in Mumbai (New Empire Cinema) from 24th January to 1st February, 1952. The entire festival was organized by Films Division with the patronage of the first Prime Minister of India Pt. JawaharLal Nehru. The festival was subsequently taken to Chennai, Delhi & Kolkata. In all, it had about 40 feature and 100 short films. The festival was non-competitive in nature. It had twenty three countries including United States. The Indian entries for the festival were Awara (Hindi), Pataal Bhairavi (Telegu), Amar Bhoopali (Marathi) and Babla (Bengali). This was the first International Film Festival held anywhere in Asia. The well known films shown during the festival were Bicycle Thief, Miracle of Milan & Open City from Italy. Yukiwarisoo (Japan), Dancing Fleese (UK), The River (USA) and Fall of Berlin (USSR). It was for the first time that the Indian Film Industry was exposed to a vast range of outstanding post –war era films.
It was decided by Govt. of India, to hold a non-competitive festival of Festival Films (Filmotsav) alternating with IFFI. While the Filmotsavs were organized at major film producing Centres of India to promote film culture, IFFI was held in New Delhi only. The first Filmotsav was held in 1978 in Chinnai. The Indian Panorma section was also introduced in this festival. The main stream cinema section was introduced in 1987. No film was considered worth giving Golden Peacock Award this year. It was therefore decided to do away with competition sections and all festivals from 1989 onwards would be non- competitive.
The Festival moved to Goa in 2004 (35th IFFI) for the first time under the patronage of Sh. Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa. The most important feature of 39th IFFI (2008) was the screening of a popular film of silent era ‘KALIA MARDAN’ by Dada Saheb Phalke, with LIVE BACKGROUND MUSIC. It was a unique & thrilling experience to watch this Live Background Music for the first time in the history of IFFIs.
The most important feature of 40th IFFI (2009) was the exhibition of Magic Lantern show by Patwardhan Brothers at Kala Academy. During 41st IFFI held at Goa in 2010,two more Awards; Best Actor and Best Actress were re-introduced.
42nd IFFI (2011) was organized by IFFI- Secretariat under Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, New-Delhi. This secretariat was created for the first time. Mr. Shankar Mohan, who is a Film Maker, Actor, Film Curator, Administrator and Film Academician was appointed as the Director IFFI for the first time. He was also the Festival Director of MIFF 2012 held in Mumbai in Feb 2012. Later on, he become the Director of the Directorate of Film Festivals New Delhi, Ministry of I&B. He was the Festival Director of 45th IFFI (2014) held at Goa.
Since 43rd IFFI was held in the Centenary Year of Indian Cinema, a new award, called CENTENARY AWARD was instituted by Ministry of I&B, which will be given to the film for Best Technological Excellence.
44th IFFI had 160 foreign and 151 Indian films,in addition to a large number of films from North East. It was a very successful festival. 45th IFFI was held at Goa from 20th Nov to 30th Nov 2014. Since Goa was declared as the permanent venue for IFFIs, in 2014 the overall administrative arrangements were better. The Opening and Closing functions were held in newly constructed Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium in 2014 for the first time.
A new award, called “ICT-UNESCO Felini Medal” was instituted in IFFI 2015. This first UNESCO/Felini award was won by Indian film,“ Cinemawala” directed by Kaushik Ganguli.
The Indian film ‘Beyond The Clouds’ by the legendary world renowned Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi opened 48th International Film Festival of India in Goa on the 20th of November, 2017. This film was also nominated for the Best Film Award at the London Film Festival 2017. Apart from marking the official debut of the young talent Ishaan Khattar into the world of cinema, this film was also the first Indian film by Majid Majidi.
The 48th IFFI (2017) was also the first festival under the aegis and guidance of Ms. Smriti Irani, Hon’ble Minister of Information and Broadcasting. It is for the first time that Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium was almost full during the Inaugural ceremony. During last four years, this stadium was never full by more than 50%.The stage was set up beautifully. The format of the entire function was totally changed. The usual “vote of thanks” was not given. The entry of Shah Rukh Khan on the stage was totally in a new style and dramatic. The “rope dance” was the novelty of the show. The entire cultural programme was excellent. It is for the first time that that a record number of most popular celebrities and superstars like, Shah Rukh Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Sridevi, Nana Patekar, Anupam Kher, Prasoon Joshi, Subhash Ghai, Sudhir Mishra, Vishal Bhardwaj and many more graced the opening ceremony. I had never seen such a large galaxy of stars coming to any IFFI/ Filmotsav so far.
For the first time the 48 th IFFI was conducted by NFDC instead of DFF (Directorate of Film Festivals /Ministry of I&B), as desired by I&B Minister. It was also for the first time that CM dinner was hosted first, after opening ceremony instead of being hosted on the last day after the closing ceremony, as per the earlier practice.
Both the inaugural films, ‘Beyond The Clouds’ directed by Iranian director Majid Majidi and closing film ‘Thinking Of Him’ directed by Argentinian director Pablo Cesar were the co-productions of India with Iran and Argentina. The festival had a large number of internationally acclaimed films from renowned filmmakers, besides 6 Master Classes and 8 Panel discussions. It was for the first time that the films of the Biennale college 2017, Venezia segment of oldest International Film festival of the world, Venice International film Festival were included in IFFI.
IFFI DAILY bulletin which was being published by DFF for many years, was discontinued. “Peacock” daily bulletin which was also being published by ESG simultaneously for few years, along with IFFI Daily, became the main bulletin in 48th IFFI.
It is for the first time that mixed “Virtual Reality” sidebar was set up in Maquninez Place building, under New Initiative. Two films, “Hindi Medium” and “Secret Superstar’ were screened under, Accessible India section. This section was specially meant for visualy and hearing impaired children. Accessible India section was organized by an NGO called Saksham and UNESCO. 48th IFFI had sections like, “Restored Classics”, James Bond Retro, showing 9 films, BRICS Film Festival award winning films. This time, Canada was chosen as the country Focus. Atom Egyon, Canada’s one of the most celebrated art house Director, was conferred with the “Life Time Achievement Award’. Super star, Amitabh Bachchan was rightly chosen for the Best Film Personality of the year award by the Ministry of I&B. 3 films of Dada SahebPhalke award winner of the year, K Vishwanath, were screened.
It is for the first time that a circular LCD wall was setup in the center of the Inox courtyard, where films of various countries were being shown continuously. The circular LCD was mounted on a newly erected steel structure. This was the new attraction of the complex and looked very attractive at night. Besides regular film shows, Projector mapping adding its own attraction.
Curtains came down with the screening of “Thinking of Him”, coproduction of Argentina and India .The film has been directed by Pablo Cesar and uses 3 languages, Bengali, Spanish and English.
I wish a great success of 49th IFFI to be held at Goa in November 2018.