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Memoirs of a survivor

Chaotic and disorganised are two words that sum up the 37th International Film Festival, writes Udita Jhunjhunwala.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2006 18:41 IST

Chaotic and disorganised – these were the two words one heard most often during the 37th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which concluded in Goa last evening.

The mood and aggression belied the calm and holiday spirit associated with the seaside resort town. Rather than talk of films worth watching or restaurants that would serve delegates after the last screening ended at 11 pm, chat in the Kala Academy canteen, queues at Inox and after parties at various Goa hotels veered only towards mismanagement, lack of information, crowding and yes, chaos.

But as the week wore on, and the irritation wore off, the crowds that had swelled during the opening weekend of IFFI had receded. And by Thursday, the venues looked bereft of people.

Where had the thousands of those 5,000 delegates who had been issued passes gone? There were small queues for films, seats were readily available, even the security checks slackened.

And conversations in canteens and queues became about good cinema. The Iranian and Brazilian films drew full houses, which led to repeat screenings and the opening film, Volver from Spain, enjoyed its third screening of the festival.

In fact, my strike rate of random films watched was about 80 per cent, as I walked out of only one Swedish film and failed to gain entry to a handful despite standing patiently in line.

After watching mindless Hollywood and even more mindless Hindi films week after week, films from Croatia, Brazil, America, Spain, India and Iran came as a pleasant change.

Besides Volver, that is a lyrical, layered film from Pedro Almodovar and sees Penelope Cruz back in form, I was determined to watch Borat. Two hours of queuing and 83 minutes of film later, I felt like I survived Borat. I would be amazed if the over-the-top, offensive, bold and hilarious film finds cinematic release in India.

Is Goa the best venue for IFFI? Perhaps not yet. But it surely has potential. If only the Central government, directorate of film festivals and Goa government can bat for the same side.

In the ego and bureaucratic battles the only ones to actually suffer are those who spent money to come to Goa to enjoy world cinema and the films themselves.

First Published: Dec 04, 2006 18:41 IST