Every year IFFI strives to be different and succeeds. This year too, from movie buffs to filmmakers to students, everyone is lapping up the variety offered by the fest, which has kept its date with technology by showing four 3D films.
Minor hiccups aside, the 42nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which started on November 23 and will be on till Dec 3, in its first week has received a good response from filmmakers and audiences from all parts of the world who have assembled in Goa.
"I am thrilled to see a varied number of films here," says Katrina Christopolus from Cyprus.
Echoing her sentiment is Ami Drozd, director of My Australia, who says: "I am really excited that it is my first visit to India, and therefore IFFI, and I have been watching some great films."
The bouquet of 165 films is an eclectic mix. Cinegoers have been treated to some of the best films in various categories - Cinema of the World, Indian Panorama, Retrospectives, and 3D Films.
The four 3D films - Caves of Forgotten Dreams (France), Toomelah (Australia), Hara Kiri Death of a Samurai (Japan) and Pina (Germany). They are being screened at the 925-seater Kala Academy and the demand for tickets has been overwhelming.
Young film enthusiasts queue up early in the morning for tickets. "If one wants to be sure of getting tickets for films, one has to land up here first thing in the morning," rues Sunita Palkar, a Pune student.
"Watching Caves of Forgotten Dreams was indeed a treat. I am looking forward to catching the other 3D films too," said Mumbai-based director Kanchan Ghosh, who is exhibiting his short film Shwet.
In the Indian Panorama, 24 fiction films and 23 non-fiction ones are being shown and most of the fiction dramas are in the regional languages. Leading the list are five Malayalam films, followed by three each in Bengali, Marathi and Hindi, and one each in Assamese, Manipuri, Bhojpuri, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani and English.
The Hindi films are Shagird, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Sahi Dhande Galat Bande.
The non-fiction section opened with Makrand Brahme's Adwait Sangeet, while Santosh Sivan's Urmi started the fiction section. Both these films opened to packed houses.
The presence of the Mishra brothers, Pandit Rajan Mishra and Pandit Sajan Mishra, on whom Adwait Sangeet is based, added to the charm of the screening.
The Retrospective Section has some interesting films by two prominent filmmakers - Phillip Noyce of Australia and Luc Besson of France.
Noyce's Clear and Present Danger, Catch a Fire, The Quiet American and Backroads are being screened here. From Besson's stable there are The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-sec, Arthur 3: The war of the two worlds, The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional and Angel A.
Film connoisseurs have a wide range to choose from in the Cinema of the World Section. There's a film from Iceland too.
elebrities have also made their presence felt, but some of them stayed really busy.
"I was in Goa for one and a half days to deliver a lecture on 'Item Number in Indian Cinema' at the Film Bazaar. After that I was in a meeting with the organisers and some film fraternity discussing how to make India a shoot-friendly place. The meeting went on till the next day and there was no time for any films," states choreographer-director Farah Khan.
The same was the case with Jackie Shroff. "I was rushed for time," he laments. "It is always a pleasure to be in Goa. I was here to inaugurate the Raj Kapoor Lounge for Actors and Directors at the Entertainment Society of Goa, which was a great privilege, and after the various inaugural ceremonies I had to rush back."
Perhaps Shah Rukh Khan and Rituparna Sen would say the same. Film Institutes and Mass Media colleges have sent students in large numbers.
Only the screening of films at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, has perhaps not gone down well with people as it is 30 km away and thus quite inaccessible.
The transport arrangements and information kiosks at the festival are laudable.
The weekend drew large crowds. However, many day delegates were disappointed as their pass entitled them only to Indian films.
Pralay Bakshi, a media professional from Goa, said, "I have not bought this day delegate pass to see only Indian films. I was keen to see international cinema. I feel short-changed as I was not informed about this while getting my pass."