TODAY -

A trip to 54th IFFI 2023
- Part 1 -

Meghachandra Kongbam *



As November approached, my excitement built for the International Film Festival of India, commonly known as IFFI. This cinematic extravaganza, held in the picturesque locale of Goa from November 20 to 28, has made the coastal city its home since 2004. For cinephiles like me, attending this grand annual event is akin to embarking on a pilgrimage-an immersive journey into the contemporary world illuminated by the artistry of cinema.

The allure is so strong that I never think twice about investing any amount for this enriching pilgrimage. Why is my visit to IFFI a regular pilgrimage? Three impactful reasons persistently draw me to this event.

Firstly, the festival serves as an enlightening window to the pulse of contemporary films from diverse corners of the globe, spanning various genres such as docu-montage, drama, animation, and films crafted by talented women. It's a captivating journey through the multifaceted landscape of world cinema.

Secondly, the opportunity to participate in the Annual General Meeting of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), India Chapter, is an invaluable aspect of my pilgrimage. The scheduled gatherings during the festival and other affiliated events provide a unique chance to engage with the critical discourse surrounding cinema on an international scale.

Lastly, I view IFFI as a comprehensive learning ground for the intricacies of Indian cinema. It's not just about enjoying the films but also delving into the workings of the industry.

From understanding new Government policies in the media and entertainment sector to grappling with the problems and challenges faced by the film industry, the festival becomes a platform for gaining profound insights into the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary Indian cinema, with a special focus on regional contributions. Before arriving in Goa, I meticulously planned every detail of my trip.

I secured confirmation from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) to register for media accreditation on behalf of the Poknapham Daily, where I regularly contribute articles on cinema. In preparation, I thoroughly went through all the festival information provided in advance by the PIB. I strategically identified the films I wanted to watch and made online bookings well in advance.

INAUGURAL CEREMONY

I used to attend the inaugural ceremony of the festival because it provided valuable insights into the current state of Indian cinema through speeches delivered by the Union Minister and authorities of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The nine-day extravaganza of the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) kicked off with a splendid opening ceremony at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium in Panaji, Goa on Monday, the 20th in the evening.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting (I&B), Anurag Singh Thakur, inaugurated the event in the presence of Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, Minister of State for I&B Dr L Murugan, MoS for Tourism Shripad Naik, and other dignitaries. Anurag Singh Thakur made a bold statement regarding the Indian film industry.

The Union Minister asserted that India is poised to become the 3rd largest media and entertainment market within the next five years. With an impressive annual growth rate of 20 percent, the Indian media and entertainment industry currently rank as the fifthlargest and most globalized industry in the world. Thakur emphasized the widespread global influence of Indian films and the growing interest of international films in the Indian market.

In a notable announcement, Thakur highlighted the introduction of a new section for OTT awards in IFFI, recognizing the rapid growth of content production in this sector. He expressed, "It will acknowledge the transformative role of original content creators in India and celebrate their contribution to employment and innovation."

Furthermore, Thakur underlined India's distinction as the largest film producer in the world, with Indian films now reaching the farthest corners of the globe. In another significant announcement, the Union Minister disclosed an increase in the incentive for foreign film production in India from 30% to 40% of the incurred expenditure.

The limit was also raised from Rs 2.5 Crore to Rs 30 Crore, exceeding 3.5 million US Dollars, accompanied by an additional 5% bonus for Significant Indian Content (SIC). The Minister explained, "Given India’s size and vast potential, there was a need for a higher incentive to attract medium and big-budget international projects."

He further added, "This paradigm shift in incentivizing film production serves as a testament to India’s commitment and support for artistic expression and reinforces our position as a preferred destination for cinematic endeavours." The Minister further announced that a new film policy will be unveiled by the Central Government soon. Film stars mesmerized the audience with their scintillating performances at the star-studded opening ceremony.

A GLIMPSE OF 54TH IFFI 2023

Films of various categories graced the festival screens, each offering a unique cinematic experience. The International Competition, a curated selection of 15 international and Indian fiction feature films showcases emerging trends in the aesthetics and politics of film. This selection envisioned by established masters and powerful young voices is scrutinized by a distinguished jury.

The jury comprised of four world-renowned cinema personalities is tasked with choosing the awardees for the Golden and Silver Peacocks. The Golden Peacock award for the Best Film went to the Persian film- Endless Borders, directed by Abbas Amini. The film explores the complexity of emotional and moral borders, suggesting that self-imposed limitations can be more intricate than physical boundaries, as noted by the jury.

Bulgarian Director Stephan Komandarev received the Silver Peacock for Best Director for his film- Blaga’s Lessons, delivering a powerful and shocking lesson through a woman torn between achieving her goals and compromising her values, according to the jury's citation.

The Best Actor award was presented to Iranian actor Pouria Rahimi Sam for his role in Endless Borders, for the richness of his acting and interaction with co-stars, both children and adults, in challenging shooting conditions.

French actress Melanie Thierry received the Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Female) for her exemplary role in Party of Fools. The jury commended Thierry's range of expressions, skilfully portraying a spectrum of emotions from hope to despair in her character's unpredictable journey.

Indian Filmmaker Rishabh Shetty earned the Special Jury Award for his critically acclaimed film- Kantara. The jury praised Shetty's ability to convey a significant story rooted in the culture of forest demons, emphasizing its universal appeal to audiences regardless of culture and social status.

In the category of Best Debut Feature Film of a Director, a compilation of seven international and Indian fiction features showcases the creative visions of the next generation of filmmakers.

Reger Azad Kaya, a promising filmmaker from the Syrian Arab Republic, was honoured with the Award for Best Debut Feature Film of a Director for his work- When the Seedlings Grow. The jury praised the film for skilfully narrating a tale that captures a day in the life of a father, daughter, and a lost boy through a succession of small yet impactful events.

Ten films, including three Indian productions, contended for the ICFT-UNESCO Gandhi Medal, presented by IFFI in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television, and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT) in Paris.

To be continued...


* Meghachandra Kongbam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 09 December 2023 .



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