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Donald Richie shines at Osian?s-Cinefan

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Donald Richie for his distinguished contribution to Asian films, writes Manjulaa Negi.
By Manjulaa Negi | PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 15, 2005 03:41 PM IST

The Osian’s-Cinefan – 7th Festival of Asian Cinema (July 15-24, 2005) will be presenting its Lifetime Achievement Award given to an author/scriptwriter/critic for Distinguished Contribution to Asian cinema to Donald Richie this year.

Considered one of the best interpreters of Japanese cinema in the world, Richie has authored several books on Japanese cinema – including the authoritative Films of Akira Kurosawa, 50 Years of Writing in Japan, Ozu, Hundred Years of Japanese Film: A Concise History with selective guide to Videos and DVDs, The Inland Sea and The Donald Richie Reader among others and is the winner of several international awards.

The Osian’s-Cinefan festival,which has over the last few years grown in stature and is effectively the Capital’s own film festival now, has in fact filled the void created by the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that has its new home in Goa – at least for the moment.

Begun small in 1999 with about 30 films, Osian’s-Cinefan has steadily marked its growth with an increasing number of films and ancillary activities over the years and this year promises to have well over a 100 films from all over Asia and beyond. Not only that, the festival is introducing an initiative entitled Infrastructure Building for Minds and Markets (IBM2) – a series of lectures, seminars and interactive sessions relating to infrastructure building for particularly Indian cinema.

IBM2  is the brainchild of the Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art Chairman Neville Tuli, otherwise well-known for setting up of India’s first auction house for Indian art. The topics which will be coming up for discussions among well-known film makers, producers and film professionals are likely to include Developments in New Indian Cinema, Freedom of Expression in Art and Popular Culture, Censorship, Film Distribution and the Role of Education, Criticism and the Media in building a dynamic film culture.Jerome Paillard, the Director of the Cannes Film Market, Farrukh Dhondy, veteran filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Mani Kaul are some of the guests who will be participating.

Unlike the IFFI which has only the Asian Competition, Osian’s-Cinefan has two competitive sections. While the Asian Competition is now a regular feature of the festival, this year sees the birth of Indian Osean – or the section which will have only latest Indian entries vying for top awards. Aruna Vasudev, Director of Osian’s-Cinefan feels that the need to have an exclusive Indian film competition arose because “we wanted to give major space to Indian cinema and to foreground young, talented filmmakers.We would like people to see genres, styles and trends in contemporary Indian cinema.” Some of the competition entries include Kundan Shah’s latest film Three Sisters, actor turned-director Kamal Sadanah’s Karkash  starring Perizaad Zorabian and Suman Ranganathan, Strings by Sanjay Jha, debutante Ruchi Narain’s Kal, Yesterday and Tomorrow and Sandip Ray’s latest film Nishijapon.However, the Indian film package will also include non-competitive films. 

Though the festival’s primary focus has been to bring in quality cinema from all Asian countries – from Japan to Turkey, it also devotes an entire section to Western filmmakers whose films are set in Asia or whose films have Asian themes, or Asian filmmakers settled abroad. The section entitled Cross-Cultural Encounters is one of seven non-competitive sections that Osian’s-Cinefan pays its attention to.

The other non-competitive sections include: Arabesque - the only package of its kind in the international film circuit anywhere in the world and includes films from Arab countries including those in Africa; Asian Frescoes which as the name suggests, comprises contemporary Asian filmsand the Tributes section which will be screening five of Satyajit Ray classics – including Pather Panchali, Charulata, Sonar Kella, Seemabaddha and Mahanagar. The package has been planned on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pather Panchali and all the films have been digitally restored.

Tributes will also be paid to Hou Hsiao-hsien, the well-known Taiwanese filmmaker who in an international critics poll in 1988 was considered “one of the three directors most crucial to the future of cinema.”Three of his best-known films A City of Sadness, A Time to Live and A Time to Die and The Boys from Fengkuei are expected besides a few others. The master himself has agreed to be a special guest of the festival.

Cinefan as it was called earlier and which merged with Osian’s last year, has always had a steady fan following. Well-known for inviting big names from Asia, the festival had seen surging crowds in 2004 when it had invited the well-known Iranian filmmaking houseof the Makhamalbafs and their films. A tribute paid to Wong Kar-wai and some of his classics saw buffs and scholars lining the aisles of the theatres. The 7th edition of Osian’s-Cinefan promises even better fare this time round.

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