The International Film Festival of India (Iffi) is caught in a terrible bind. Critics point to the horrible organisational mess that has accompanied the 37th Iffi in Goa. There is no doubt that the festival’s organisers, the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, have managed to put on a grand display of incompetence. Distributing over 5,000 passes for a screening in a multiplex with a seating capacity of 1,272, for instance, does not make good sense even in Cannes. But riding piggy-back on those dissenting the Iffi’s disorganisation are those who think that Goa as a permanent Iffi venue is a blunder.
Perhaps, the ammunition was provided long before November 23 when Goa and Cannes were mentioned in the same breath. The point of that comparative exercise was aspirational, in the sense of building up Goa, a natural holiday spot with a brand identity of its own, as the perfect destination for film makers and film lovers. Unfortunately, a film festival is much more than choosing a location.
There have been some comments about Goa not being the right choice because it “lacks a film culture”. The issue of Panaji not being the hotbed of cinematic creativity is a digression that need not be taken seriously. Cannes, to take the obvious example, was little else but a holiday resort for the rich before it became the toast of cineastes worldwide. This is not to say that Goa will not become the parody that cynics say it already is if it remains a bumbling I&B operation. Fix the organisational snafus and then we will see what Goa can really do.