The International Film Festival of India (Iffi) ended in Goa on Tuesday, but it was one of the most disappointing editions of its kind. It’s like giving up smoking, and not missing it either. The 39th Iffi in Goa, which huffed and puffed to its conclusion on Tuesday, was a spectacle with neither style nor substance. From all accounts, the ten-day jamboree was a disappointment. Its very raison d’etre — the exposition of the best of world cinema — seems to be going, going...well, not gone yet. Over the decades, efforts have been made by the I&B Ministry’s Directorate of Film Festivals to carry the event to the next level. In vain.
Now with the directorate’s role almost decimated and the domination of the Entertainment Society of Goa, strange bedfellows invite and receive film entries. British and Australian cinema were conspicuous by their absence. Hollywood was scantily represented, a snafu that has persisted every since major US studios concluded that premieres at the Iffi don’t buoy their films’ market value.
Curiously enough, the Iffi experienced its ‘golden era’ during the 1970s. Not only were the stock of films on show infinitely more exciting but it was also a dream come true for film majnus to be within the radius of so many master directors under one roof. Satyajit Ray shared a press conference table with Akira Kurosawa, Michelangelo Antonioni and Elia Kazan. Subsequently, such celebrated names as Roman Polanski and Miklos Jancso have attended our festivals and interacted with students and film society enthusiasts. This time, the Iffi succeeded in coaxing the incomparable French actress Catherine Deneuve to fetch up. Shockingly, only a handful of mediapersons showed up at her official press meet.
The Iffi’s permanent residence in Goa certainly needs to be reviewed. Film lovers travel to festivals not to laze on beaches. They go for their annual quantum of film solace. In fact, nostalgiaphiles agree that there was nothing like scrambling for the vast variety of international cinema at Delhi’s Siri Fort, at the height of winter. The Iffi is no longer cold today, it’s hot and humid. A perfect reason perhaps to kick the habit.