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Goa IFFI promises cinematic feast

The 36th film fest, beginning on Nov 24, will showcase a wide variety of films, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2005 13:42 IST

The 10-day 36th International Film Festival of India, scheduled for kick-off in Panaji, Goa, on November 24, promises a cinematic feast to whet the appetite of film lovers - a wide range of entries representing the old and the new, the experimental and the mainstream, and the classic and the fresh off the oven.

In other words, IFFI Goa 2005, despite having taken its own sweet time to get into its groove for reasons political and administrative, might not turn out to be as big a washout as some sceptics had feared.

It took the Congress government in Goa inordinately long to rid itself of its apathy towards the event and the gratuitous dilly-dallying did threaten to completely derail IFFI 2005. That the film festival is back on the rails in the nick of time despite murmurs of protest is no less than a miracle.

Some eminent Goans are reported to be vehemently opposed to turning IFFI into a jamboree. They feel that Panaji’s civic infrastructure is far too frail to take the load of a film festival of this magnitude. A "trade fair" is fine, but a Cannes-like carnival isn’t, they argue.

Away from the politics of the film festival, much will of course hinge on the quality of films that the 36th IFFI manages to attract for its centrepiece Cinema of the World section and the Asian/African/Latin American Competition.

As things stand, 50-odd films from 35 countries will constitute the Cinema of the World section. Other sections of the festival are expected to screen about 150 more films.

Indian Panorama will, as has already been widely reported, showcase 21 feature films and 15 non-features.

The composition of a five-member jury for the Competition section has already been finalised. Celebrated 63-year-old Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littin, last seen at IFFI in the late 1990s, will head the panel.

The other members of the jury are French director Alain Corneau, Indian filmmaker Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Iranian actor Faramarz Gharibian and Austrian director Sabine Derflinger.

India will be represented in the Competition section by two films – Nagesh Kukunoor’s Hindi-language Iqbal and Kamal’s Malayalam drama, Perumazhakkalam.

The 36th IFFI will introduce a brand-new section, NFA Gold, a showcase of Swarna Kamal-winning films of the past 50-odd years. This year, the first two National Award winners – Shyamchi Aai and Mirza Ghalib – will be screened. Ninety-year-old Vanmala Devi, who played the title role in Shyamchi Aai, will be present during the screening of the film.

A practice started successfully a couple of years ago – holding premieres of new Indian films – will also be taken forward this year, with several fresh films in the reckoning.

Although there is no clarity yet on the actual premieres line-up, among the films being mentioned are Aparna Sen’s 15 Park Avenue (English) and Anjan Das’s Faltu (Bengali). Efforts are also on to get a few Mumbai films into the picture.

Shadows of Time, a Bengali-language film made by German director Florian Gallenberger, who was a jury member in last year’s IFFI in Goa, will be the closing night film of the festival.

In the retrospective section, a special tribute will be paid to the recently deceased film producer Ismail Merchant. Films like In Custody (directed by Merchant himself), A Room with a View, Heat and Dust and Remains of the Day, will be screened.

Two other Indian film personalities who passed away in the last 12 months – the multifaceted Sunil Dutt and southern legend Gemini Ganesh – will also make their presence felt at Goa IFFI 2005. Reshma Aur Shera, starring and directed by Dutt, and Parthiban Kanavu, a sweeping historical melodrama featuring Gemini Ganesh in the lead will be screened in remembrance of their contribution to Indian cinema.

A six-film retrospective of classics directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee is also on the IFFI 2005 bill of fare.

The foreign retrospectives will include the films of French actress Isabelle Huppert and selections from Iran and Germany.

First Published: Oct 25, 2005 19:13 IST