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Osian's-Cinefan Film Festival begins today

The 9th Osian's-Cinefan Festival will not only screen several Arab films but will also pay a tribute to Japan's master filmmaker Kenzi Mizoguchi, writes Arnab Banerjee.
By Arnab Banerjee
UPDATED ON JUL 23, 2007 07:36 PM IST

One of Asia’s leading film festivals Osian’s-Cinefan is back. Having grown with some minor and major hiccups all these eight years of their existence, the film festival has managed to attract cinema lovers from far and wide.

This year too, the number of films, which has grown from less than 120 films last year to 140 films this year, promises to showcase a wide cross section of films devoted principally to the concerns of the Asia and the Arab world.

Established in 1999 in New Delhi in July every year, the Festival enjoys an international reputation for the quality of films screened over nine days complemented by panel discussions, one major seminar, an Auction of Popular Culture and Film Memorabilia along with a number of exhibitions, the Talent Campus for budding young filmmakers from South Asia, and the presence and participation of film professionals from all over the world and all over India.

A Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished contribution to writing on cinema is presented – perhaps the only Festival in the world that recognises the role of the scriptwriter and the critic in the creation and the promotion of films.

The fact that there are some renowned filmmakers and critics, not to mention editors and senior journalists from some of the best known film magazines of Europe and the USA, proves how important the festival is beginning to make its presence in the international arena.

“We want to create an artistic cultural discipline which can initiate dialogues in some form that could further enhance the socio-cultural and political ethos of our part of the world,” said Neville Tuli, Chairman Osian at the press conference in the Capital.

“The concerns and issues that plague Asia are quite similar in nature and are different from the concerns of the advanced American and European societies and we need to get together and address these issues.”

Tuli also rued the fact that there isn’t any “cinematic culture” in the country. “We have great love for cinema, we have the passion, understanding and knowledge that is required for the whole process to evolve but do we also have the infrastructure?”. Obviously public participation is far from enough and there needs to be a lot more that needs to be done to improve infrastructure.

Fortunately for him, this year one of the great giants PVR Cinemas, the first multiplex in the country, has come forward to tie up with Osian’s and will be screening films at a subsidized rate of Rs 50/ only. One could see watch films at The Siri Fort Auditorium for a mere Rs 20/-.

To synergise art, culture and trade an amalgamation of various cultural activities ahev also been planned. This year there will be a focus on Japan with a tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi. A benshi performance and a number of contemporary Japanese and Samurai films will also be screened, as also some Japanese poster designs of World cirnma.

“When everybody comes up to me and says that our festival is unique in many ways,” said the Director Cinefan Aruna Vasudeva, “I am sure one of the reasons they are referring to is the IBM2, a parallel and complementary event established in 2005, and includes this year, the fourth edition of Talent Campus India in collaboration with the Berlin International Film Festival, ABC Series IV - an Art, Book and Cinema Auction, Exhibitions on the following subjects: Japanese Dolls, Samurai Armour and Helmets, Film Posters and Hollywood Memorabilia, and Commemorating 1857 – India’s First War of Independence, Lectures, Panel Discussions and organized Q&A sessions on various subjects."

Three competition sections – Asian & Arab Cinema, First Films from Asia, Indian Cinema - are judged by international juries and cash prizes awarded. Fipresci gives its own award as well. The regular sections are Cross-Cultural Encounters, Frescoes of Asian and Arab films, Indian Mosaic for the best of the previous year’s productions.

This year the Festival with the tagline Recreating Cinematic Culture will focus on Japan with a tribute to Kenji Mizoguchi. A number of samurai films will be accompanied by the largest ever exhibition of Samurai Armour and Helmets, and on Japanese Dolls, all from the Osian’s Archive.

The Silhouettes section will consist of films with women as central characters in an oblique reference to Mizoguchi’s predilection for highlighting the situation of women in Japanese society in his time.

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of India’s First War of Independence in 1857 will be a section of films that describe the struggle for freedom in Asia and the Arab world.

A tribute to the technique of cinema in a new section called Film Craft will be paid, where, this year, the festival acknowledges the place of the cinematographer.

The Festival is organized by Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art, India’s pioneering arts institution and auction house established in 2000, to create a merit-oriented and financially independent cultural infrastructure. This year it will take place from 20 to 29 July, 2007 in seven theatres in New Delhi. The opening film will be Raami, an Iran-Azerbaijan co production, and the closing film is the Egyptian award winning film, Cut And Paste.

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