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February - March 2009


Who Owns IFFI?

by Nikhil Gajendragadkar

International Film Festival of India is the oldest film festival, and, according to the government, the most prestigious one. If so, the organisers must concentrate on the reputation of it. But a controversy of the Ownership of the festival arose  during the 39th edition of IFFI, held in November-December 2008  in Goa.

A Look at the Festival

Goa or rather its capital city, Panjim, has been declared as the permanent venue for  the International Film Festival of India. The decision is four years old. Now suddenly there  is a talk, or threat,to pull it out of Goa.

Why? What is the problem?

It all started at the inauguration function itself. Mr.Digambar Kamat, Chief Minister of Goa mooted the idea of  Brand Goa. In short, the festival should be known as Goa film festival. Less than two days the new director of the Directorate of Film festivals SM Khan strongly objected to it. ‘The name will remain IFFI, if needed(read, if Goa pushes its idea of branding) the festival will be moved to other place,’ he made it clear from his side.

 Now the question is what is important? the festival or the brand? Quality of the films and the festival or the name and marketing of it? Once again there was a talk of making this festival better than Cannes or Berlin etc. film festivals. Why are we so obsessed with these foreign festivals ? It will be wise to concentrate on making this festival better in more ways than one. Selection of good films and organising events  in seamless manner are areas on which the organisers should more careful about.

  Entertainment Society of Goa, co organiser of the event did handle some programming and other sections; but they should not think that they can take over and carry  the entire festival on there own. The festival is the  responsibility of Department of Film Festivals, that is why that government department was created and still exists.  Are they doing a good job? There is no satisfactory answer.

 It is high time the Directorate of film festival should  give a serious thought to  the standard of films it selects for this festival. This years’ standard left film lovers cryng for a better deal. There were too many Asian films. Though this region is emerging as a major film production centre, still one must keep in mind that it is ‘emerging’. There is wide  gap- as far as content, treatment and style of film making is concerned- between these countries and other film making nations, including India. Countries like Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan have a long way to go to compete with best films coming from other parts of the world. Naturally many films failed to impress. Number of European films included in the festival was less than usual ,but few of them were really good.

  This year also films from USA and UK were too few. ‘Changeling’ a film by noted director-actor Clint Eastwood ,and  a film by Woody Allen were included in the catalogue but were not shown. Reasons are still not clear, perhaps distribution rights, other commercial  causes can be there. Such things deprive film lovers and  should be averted in the future.

  In sections like Retrospective, Homage ,Tribute ,Celebration etc more that two dozen old films were included, last days of the festival saw repeat shows of some films. That means the DFF  failed in procuring good films, which are honoured in other important festivals. Though the Main Stream section is cancelled ,still  commercial films like ‘Jodha Akbar’ and few more were included in Indian Panorama  section. There is no harm in arranging some repeat shows of a top class films or even showing a commercial film, which is exceptionally good, otherwise one gets the impression that major film makers are avoiding IFFI.

This will hinder the growth of the festival.

  ESG brought out separate ‘daily’ during the festival period, as if a rival to IFFI Daily being published by DFF. Instead of indulging in such petty rivalry both should work together in conducting the festival more smoothly .Look in to the problems of film lovers are facing, increase seating capacity by involving local theatres in the festival. IFFI itself is a brand ,owned by India. Now do not fight over the ‘right’ of it, work hard to make it real International and worthy of praise.

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