Film festivals set to attract connoisseurs, controversies...

By Priyanka Khanna, Indo-Asian News Service

imageNew Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The

annual season celebrating films and moviemakers is round the corner, with dime-a-dozen festivals set to roll amidst an

increasing number of patrons and controversies.

The film festival season envelopes entire Asia. It began with the 10th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea

(Oct 6-14) the biggest in the region.

The Indian version - Asian Film Festival - begins in Mumbai Oct 20 to be followed by the grand 36th International Film

Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa in November and the Pune Film Festival in January. A host of other film festivals are slated

in between.

Organisers in Goa are gearing up to handle a higher number of film festival buffs after last year's huge turnout at the

IFFI caught them by surprise.

Thousands of people had attended the 10-day festival last year. More cinema buffs are expected this year with multiplexes

giving rise to a more discerning and appreciative audience.

The increasing popularity of film festivals has also meant more controversies. As it is, disagreements have besieged

cinema this year. Remember the furore over the selection of Saif Ali Khan for a National Award for "Parineeta" and nomination

of "Paheli" as India's entry for the Oscars.

Already news of disagreements among organising committee members of IFFI is trickling in. While the selection of Goa as

the permanent venue for IFFI was a much fiercely debated subject last year, controversy continues to haunt the festival.

Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks and leading Goa-based activists are demanding that the festival should be a low-key

affair, minus all the parties, because Panaji's civic infrastructure cannot accommodate the huge numbers that turn up at such

events.

To register his protest, Rodricks resigned as one of the special invitees to the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) that

selects the contractor for the event.

Upset with the crumbling infrastructure and civic amenities in his home state where tourism and the IFFI have taken

precedence over all else, Rodricks is throwing his 'celeb' weight behind the campaign to "clean up Goa".

Rodricks says the government must first focus on the needs of local citizens and the civic infrastructure, rather than

waste public funds on entertaining film stars during IFFI.

"A film festival is serious business for the buying, selling and promotion of films. It should be handled professionally

like a trade fair. I am for the film festival in Goa, but please tone down the party image," he said.

Sanjit Rodrigues, chief executive officer of the ESG, says the Congress government, which took office in June, got carried

away into posturing as being anti-IFFI.

"This dilly-dallying has cost us valuable time and as a result we are working against time," he said.

It seems that controversies and film festivals go hand in hand. Even the Busan festival is facing competition from none

other than a parallel festival in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Reports say, while moviegoers in South Korea were treated to 62 world premieres, the silver screen in Pyongyang flickered

with "Immense Honour", "Happiness of the Nation", and "Self-Reliance Is the Only Way Out", to mark six decades under North

Korean leader, Kim Jong Il.

India was represented at the prestigious festival by Sarika for the world première of Rahul Dholakia's "Parzania".

The critically acclaimed English film, produced by Sarika, is the story of a Parsi family trapped in the communal violence

in Gujarat in 2001 where their 10-year-old son goes missing.

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"Parzania" is among the notable works by Indian filmmakers that has been left out of the list of films that will be shown

at IFFI's Indian Panorama section in Goa in November.

"Paheli", "Iqbal", and "Page 3" were among the 20 feature films and 15 non-feature films that have been recommended by a

panel led by filmmaker M.S. Sathyu for inclusion in the section.

Malayalam film "Daivanamathil", "Perumazhakkalam" and "Kazcha", Kannada film "Beru" and Bengali film "Antarmahal" have

been chosen for the feature film category.

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The International Film Festival of India will feature a retrospective of renowned Hindi filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

Five of his landmark films would be screened during the festival.

The retrospective and tribute section of the festival would also feature films of renowned French actress Isabel

Huppert.

Tributes would be paid to well-known filmmaker Ismail Merchant and actor Sunil Dutt, both of whom passed away in May, and

also noted southern actor Gemini Ganesan, who passed away in March. One film each of the two actors would be screened during

the festival.

The retrospectives with country focus will have films from Germany and Iran.

Special sections on overseas Indians and a retro of Lina Wertmuller (Italian director) are under consideration. Close to

200 films would be screened during the festival.

A jury headed by Chilean director Miguel Littin, known as the legend of Latin America cinema, has been set up to judge the

entries. Other members of the jury are Iranian actor Faramarz Gharibian, Indian filmmaker Saeed Akhtar Mirza, French director

Alain Corneau and Austrian director Sabine Derflinger.

For the cinema of the world section, 45 films from 35 countries would be screened.