The year 1980 had special significance for lovers of good cinema in India. It marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Satyajit Ray's epoch-making Pather Panchali, the film that put India on the world map. It was in perfect order, therefore, that Filmotsav 1980, hosted by Bangalore from the 3rd to the 17th of January, had a full retrospective devoted to the master's work: 22 feature films and three documentaries. From the profoundly moving Pather Panchali to the delightfully inventive Joi Baba Felunath, the Ray retrospective covered virtually the entire body of the director's work until then.
Interestingly, Jean Renoir, the French film director with whom Ray interacted closely during the shoot of The River in Calcutta in the early 1950s, was also represented at that year's film festival by a package of seven of his cinematic masterpieces. Filmotsav 1980 was also enriched by retrospectives of two other masters of world cinema - the Paris-born Polish émigré Roman Polanski and the Egyptian great Youssef Chahine.
The sheer quality of the 90-odd films that were entered in this non-competitive festival proved beyond doubt that the Indian film festival had begun to emerge as an event that could attract the best in the world. Films from as many as 35 countries were showcased at Filmotsav 1980. The 15-day festival, inaugurated by Indian cinema legend Devika Rani Roerich, attracted upwards of 80 foreign delegates.
At the 1980 Filmotsav, the feast of films included some of the most celebrated productions of 1979. The festival's main section had Werner Herzog's Nosferatu - The Vampyre, Nagisa Oshima's Empire of Passion and two Andrzej Wajda films, The Maids of Wilko and Rough Treatment.
Also screened at the festival were several wonderful films from Latin America, including Miguel Littin's The Jackal of Nahueltoro from Chile and Tomas Alea's The Survivors from Cuba. The entries from Europe, too, were impressive. On show were Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun and Volker Schlondorff's The Tin Drum. The main section of the festival paid a special tribute to the creativity of the Hungarian filmmaker Istvan Gaal by screening four of his most celebrated films.
Clearly, Filmotsav 1980 was a huge success on all fronts.
Text: Saibal Chatterjee
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