IFFI 2019 curtain raiser: Italian film Despite the Fog opens festival; Russia selected as spotlight country with eight features
Six of Amitabh Bachchan’s films are categorized as Dadasaheb Phalke Award Winner Retrospective at IFFI this year
In 1952, the inaugural edition of the International Film Festival of India, better known as IFFI, had 23 countries represented across 40 features and 100 short films. On 20 November, the 50th edition opened in Panjim, Goa, with 200 feature films from 76 countries.
IFFI was birthed in Bombay in 1952, under the patronage of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and organized by The Films Division of India. From its inception IFFI was a travelling festival, anchoring in a different major Indian city, including Madras, Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay and Hyderabad, every other year. In its third edition, in 1965, it became a competitive festival with Sri Lankan film Gamperaliya being the first to win a Golden Peacock.
The festival finally became an annual fixture from 1975, but continued to travel around the country. Until 2004 when it found a permanent home in Goa. In the same year, IFFI also expanded to become an internationally competitive festival.
This year, to add sheen to the golden jubilee celebration, Rajnikanth was named the Icon of the Golden Jubilee of IFFI and presented a special award at the opening ceremony. Golden Globe and Cesar Award-winning French actress Isabelle Huppert is being felicitated with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Other prominent guests and delegates include Amitabh Bachchan, Ramesh Sippy, actors Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Wagner Moura. Award-winning cinematographer and former President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences John Bailey is head of the international jury and Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Miike is the filmmaker in focus.
Goran Paskaljevic’s Italian film Despite the Fog was given a prestigious position of the opening film while the curtains will come down on 28 November with Maysam Makhmalbaf’s Iranian film Marghe and her Mother.
Russia has been selected as the spotlight country with a package of eight films such as Abigail by Aleksandr Boguslavski, Acid by Alexander Gorchili, Andrei Tarkovsky: A Cinema Prayer by Andrei Tarkovsky Jr. and Beanpole by Kantemir Balagov. Six of Bachchan’s films (Badla, Paa, Sholay etc) are categorized as Dadasaheb Phalke Award Winner Retrospective.
From the robust international selection, the hot tickets are likely to be Parasite (Palme D’Or winner 2019), Les Miserables, Pain and Glory, Sorry We Missed You, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, System Crasher, Lillian, Monos and You Will Die at Twenty. In a special section, three silent movies – Sergei M Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925), G. W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929) — will be accompanied by live music.
Special sections for the Golden Jubilee year include the Golden Peacock Retrospective, which features Golden Peacock award-winning films such as Samira Makhmalbaf’s At Five in the Afternoon and James Ivory’s The Bostonians. The Golden Lining section showcases Indian films, such as Aradhana, Tambadi Mati and Satyakaam, which also complete 50 years this year.
Thirty-five master classes, panels and workshops; a package of Konkani films under title The Goan Story; The Best of MIFF features 17 documentaries and short films from previous editions of the Mumbai International Film Festival; plus there’s the Indian Panorama. How do you fit all of this into eight days and still find time to enjoy Goa? Seems like the beach will have to wait, because there are two dense catalogues that need to be studied and a chart of screenings has to be carefully worked out before one is immersed in the best cinema, not just from this year but also from the last 50 years.
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