Images from the Third World
The International Film Festival of India (IFFI)-2006, starting in Goa on November 24, will focus on southern cinema, writes Ervell E. Menezes

It is indeed heartening to know that the International Film Festival of India- 2006 will have an Asian/African/ Latin American competition section. The Golden Peacock Award will be given to the Best Film in this section, while the Silver Peacock will be given to the Most Promising Director.

That IFFI has been chopping and changing its format since its inception in the early 1950s is only too well known. Why they gave up the competition section in the 1970s is hard to comprehend. Over the past two or three years, they have reintroduced the competition section in dribs and drabs. But grouping Asia, Africa and Latin America may be a good idea because IFFI will then have a Third World identity. Up to date IFFI has never had any identity. After years of drumming it into them, they have finally realised the need to have this particular slot. It will also help in marketing these films.

Sadly, the market section of IFFI has always been found wanting and operates on a trial-and-error basis. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) did it for the last two years, even after bungling the first year. Last year’s director Afzal Ammanullah had no answer as to why they were being persisted with.

But giving the Silver Peacock to the Most Promising Director appears to be rather vague. It should have been to the Best Director as the Golden Peacock goes to the Best Film. A Special Jury award will be given to the director of a film for his individual artistic contribution. It is also rather vague and should have been more specific.

The jury will be headed by Australian filmmaker Rolf De Heer and consist of five members, one of which is Indian—Assamese filmmaker Jahnu Barua. There will also be a variety of films ranging from Country Focus, Film India Worldwide, Indian Premiers and Foreign Retrospectives.

There will be a retrospective of the late Govindan Aravindan (in his lifetime few knew what G. stood for), the renowned Malayalam filmmaker whose premature death was a great loss to Indian cinema. It will open with Vasthuhara on November 26. The other four films to be screened are Thampu, Kanchan Sita, Chidambaran and Estaphan. Aravindan was a man of few words and this writer often remembers his soft and polite invitations to see his films but quite often the heavy schedule did not permit one to see all the films one would have liked to, so one must put his films on a priority list.

The festival will open with a Spanish film Volver on November 24 and conclude with a Mexican film Babel on December 3. There will also be homage to the film personalities that have died in the last year, like renowned filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee, actress Nadira, music director Naushad and Kannada actor Raj Kumar, which means there will be a wide variety of films on display. Only the organisation must be better than the last two IFFIs.

Timings should be strictly adhered to, the invitees must be controlled, even curbed and the public should be able to see the IFFI films at the local cinemas. The sad fact is that the multiplexes charge such high rates that true lovers of cinema are not able to see them. Then inviting tenders for the running of the main multiplex must be done post-haste. Inox has been given an unfair advantage for reasons best known to the powers that be and any opposition to them doesn’t seem to find the light of day.

What one needs in running IFFI is transparency but this has never been the case. One must also take the locals into confidence, not bulldoze one’s way along like the then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar did in the initial year.

There is still over a month left for IFFI, so let’s hope the teething troubles are over and one can look forward to an exciting, informative and entertaining film festival, which should flow as smoothly as the Mandovi in whatever we call a winter.