IFFI goes to Goa
Ervell E. Menezes

The International Film Festival of India, or IFFI, comes to Goa for the first time and all eyes, especially of film buffs, will be on this quaint former Portuguese colony. Until recently, the film-fest was held at the Siri fort in New Delhi every other year and in any major city in India in the intervening year as it was hoped that this would help spread film culture to the rest of the country.

However, the powers that be have decided to have a permanent venue so that the festival is identified with a particular place, for instance Cannes or Berlin or Venice. Holding IFFI in Goa will surely give the state greater visibility on the world map and from November 29 to December 9 the 35th IFFI will attract a floating population of around 3000 persons. IFFI director Neelam Kapoor, in an exclusive interview, expressed optimism at the choice of Goa as the venue.

The festival will open with Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair at the Dinnanath Mangeshkar cinema at the Kala Academy on November 29. The Hall has been updated and equipped with modern projection facilities for the festival. There will also be two jury screening rooms in the academy where an international jury headed by Mani Ratnam will choose the winners of the Asian cinema section, the only competitive section of the festival. It will comprise 15 films, including two Indian films — the Marathi film Shwaas which is also the Indian entry for the best foreign film category of the Oscars and Bow Barricks Forever, by Aanjan Das.

The Indian Panorama is another mainstay of IFFI and will contain 21 feature and 21 short films made last year. There will be a Focus on the late Italian actor Vittorio Gassman and director G. Gambetti as also a focus on Ashok Amritraj, a leading Indian producer in Hollywood.

There will also be a tribute to the late actor Mahmood and South Indian actress Soundrya who died in a plane crash while campaigning for the BJP in the last elections.

Cinema of the World is another popular section with 40 entries and will be screened at the main cinema in the Kala Academy. There will also be a package of films from Baveria brought by a 10-member delegation looking for tie-ups with Indian filmmakers.

To provide a Goan flavour to the event there will be an impressive opening ceremony consisting of a parade of floats from Miramar to Panjim and veteran Republic-Day-floats winner Fanquit Martins will be in charge of the show. The floats are expected to portray various Goan festivals and Goan culture.

The old Goa Medical College building will house the administrative offices of IFFI while the impressive glass-faced multiplex designed by New Zealand architect J. Walker will have four cinema screens and a total seating capacity of 1250 people. The biggest cinema, or Audio 1, can accommodate 533 people. The glass face also reflects the old GMC building. Screening of films at the Kala Academy and the multiplex will start from 9 a.m. and carry on till late at night with each theatre screening at least five films a day.

Films will not be screened in the local cinemas as the cinema owners have not updated their cinemas but there will be a giant screen at Miramar beach which will screen two films, at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., each day, but the beach is surely not the best place to see films. There will also be a three-screen multiplex in Margao to show festival films.

There will also be a section devoted to cinema for AIDS which will consist of two films, a documentary and a film called Yesterday. Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is one of the Hollywood films in Cinema of the World section but there will not be too many Hollywood films as one can catch up with them during the rest of the year.

The market section, which is a very important part of IFFI and which has always been weak, will for the first time be handled by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). The National Film Development Corporation, which is largely responsible for the failure of the market section, will play second fiddle to CII. Whether or not the festival benefits from the decision to choose Goa as the venue remains to be seen.

The post-lunch break will be devoted to press conferences where various filmmakers will speak about their respective films. Actors and actresses of these films are also expected to be present. Then, there will be an Open Forum where eminent film personalities, foreign and Indian, will take part in discussions and symposia on the important aspects of cinema. This will be held at the Kala Academy.
Party time will start in the evenings after 7 p.m. Distributors and producers of films will be hold cocktails and dinners to promote their films in nearby five-star hotels. This is hospitality time and quite a few opt for these parties instead of films because it is here that important contacts are made and tie-ups forged. The government which is spending enough money on IFFI should get its participants to do likewise. It is good marketing that will determine the success or otherwise of IFFI.