The 21st Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) this year is going to be a bigger and better affair with the introduction of more awards and films. The festival that turned competitive in 2014 with the introduction of Golden Royal Bengal Tiger Award for the Best Film, which boasts a prize money of Rs 51 lakh, has this year emerged as one of the single largest cash awards given at any international film festival across the world.
According to Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary, I&CA Department, “The Abu Dhabi Film Festival so long gave the highest cash award but now that the festival has been cancelled, Rs 51 lakh, which is given to the Best Film at the Kolkata International Film Festival, has emerged as the single largest cash award given at any international film festival.”
The festival, which went competitive in 2014 with two award categories -- the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger Award for the Best Film (Rs 51 lakh) and the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger Award for Best Woman Director (Rs 21 lakh) and the NETPAC Award-- has this year introduced two more competitive sections. This year’s edition will see a cash award of Rs 1,00,000 each for the Best Documentary and the Best Short film. Besides, a special jury award will be given to the best film in the Indian Select category by Indian Film Critic Association.
Announcing the list of awards and the festival highlights, KIFF director Jadav Mondal on Tuesday said, “Last year we received an overwhelming response. So, we have introduced two new award categories. The number of entries received this year too has multiplied.” The film festival logo and the Golden Royal Bengal Trophy too was unveiled on the occasion by actor and member of parliament Moon Moon Sen, actor and festival committee chairperson Ranjit Mullick, filmmaker and festival committee member Haranath Chakraborty, actor-director and festival committee member Arindam Sil.
The festival too will be inaugurated by actor Amitabh Bachchan, which will be the actor’s fifth in a row. “Mr Amitabh Bachchan will be the chief guest this year too. Unfortunately, Shah Rukh Khan won’t be able to make it to the festival this year because he is busy shooting for his upcming film Dilwale. The festival will also be attended by Vidya Balan, Jaya Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, Moushumi Chatterjee and a number of other actors and filmmakers,” said Mondal.
A total of 149 films by 137 directors from 61 countries will be screened across 12 venues over a period of eight days. Interestingly, this is also the first time the dates of the festival have been altered. The annual fest which is held between November 10 and November 17, this year will be held from November 14 to November 21. Interestingly, all the films that will be screened this year in the competitive categories have been made in 2015. One of the biggest attractions this year will be Spanish director Carlos Saura’s 2015 film, Zonda, folclore argentino, which is yet to be screened at any film festival in India. The festival will pay tribute to Manuel de Olivera, where the master filmmaker’s six films will be screened. The Great Master section will screen six films by French filmmaker Jean Renoir, which include classics such as The River, Grand Illusion, The Rules of The Game, French Cancan, Experiment in Evil and The Vanishing Corporal.
The number of entries in the competitive section, which sees the Golden Royal Bengal Award given to the Best Woman Director, too has increased. The festival, which received 72 entries from 22 countries in the last edition, has escalated to 121 films this year. “We have shortlisted 14 films for the award and all the 14 women directors will be present at the award ceremony to be held on November 21, the closing day of the festival,” said Sil.
Actor Sharmila Tagore, like last year, has once again been appointed the chairman of the jury board. Others members of the jury comprise Chinese actor Ban Lai, Sri Lankan actor Swarna Mallawarachchi, Polish filmmaker Filip Marczeweski and Israeli filmmaker Samuel Muoz.
The festival has also introduced a new section, India Unheard, where six films in non-so-popular languages such as Konkani, Rava, Kodava, Nepali, Tulu and Ladakhi will be screened. “The centenary tribute this year will feature films of stalwarts like Anthony Quinn and Ingrid Bergman master films such as Kon Ichikawa, Orson Welles and Debaki Kumar Basu,” said Mullick.
The Short & Documentary section, which turns competitive this year has received 433 entries of which 176 have been selected. “We have shortlisted 15 shorts and 20 documentaries, which was a daunting task given the large number of entries,” said Sil.
The Bengali Panorama, however, will screen only three films. “The reason behind fewer Bengali films this year is that we wanted to screen unreleased films. We hope the number will increase next year,” added Sil.
In an initiative to reach out to more people and popularise the event, the festival committee has come up with a merchandise range that includes T-shirts, key rings and other attractive products.