SAIIER 2019:Attending the 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa

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SAIIER 2018-19
Attending the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa
A project of Aurofilm


Aurofilm aims at fostering education, research and personal progress through the medium of Cinema. Cinema at its best is complete and fulfilling as an art form and may act as a valuable tool in improving our human nature. For this, Aurofilm offers regular (weekly) film screenings at Multi Media Centre (Town Hall) and at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium for our special events. We also plan to restart using our Kalabhoomi studio for “Open Classes” – all this for the benefit of all the Auroville residents and our visitors.

In order for this work to be propagated, research based on meaningful and artistic cinema requires the Aurofilm team to be constantly in touch with the world of film production and distribution. India’s well organized international film festivals provide the perfect milieu for this activity. Hence, it is our primary objective to attend one of these events once a year.

Description of project:

Every year, the Directorate of Film Festivals of India (DFF), a Government of India organization (from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) along with the state of Goa through the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG, Panaji), organize “IFFI” – the International Film Festival of India. It is a high quality event that showcases and promotes the best films from a global platform, which includes India as well. It facilitates the meeting of all professionals from the film family (production and distribution). It is an eight-day event that has existed since 2004 in its permanent set up in the capital of Goa, Panaji. The first IFFI was set up back in 1952 by the Government of India, as they surely recognised the various and numerous beneficial aspects of Cinema for the society.

The 49th edition of the IFFI was held from 20 to 28 November 2018. Susana and Surya from the Aurofilm team went to attend as it is a well-organised and now renowned event that helps with our work of the year ahead and further.

The two of us attended six days of the event (20th to 26th). Even though we would have preferred to be there until the closing, it was very helpful and, as planned, attending the many film screenings in the different festival sections was fruitful. Some of the sections were:

  • International Competition, with 15 film from the World competing for the prestigious Golden Peacock award. We saw 4 of them.
  • “Gandhi Medal Films”/ICTF UNESCO with 12 films. This category is a competitive section for films that explore the themes of peace, harmony and unity – this year we watched 5 of them and selected the only Indian production for our Panorama in Auroville, the beautiful “Walking With the Wind” from Ladakh.
  • World Panorama had 66 titles and we saw 8 of them, among which stood out the Tibet-USA-India film “The Sweet Requiem” by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam.
  • Indian Panorama with 26 films – long feature films from the different states of the country from which we watched 12 and selected 6 for our own Panorama in Auroville. The practice to screen documentaries & short films before every long feature film in the Indian Panorama section still goes on and it is a very good initiative that gives the festival delegates the opportunity to discover these otherwise forgotten items – for everyone is busy with more glamorous or famous films in different places. There were 21 short films, we could watch 8 and selected 3 of them for Auroville.
  • Centenary Award for the Best Debut Feature Film had 7 films and we could watch the Tamil film “To Let”.
  • Special presentation of Tunisia with 3 recent film from that country. We could see one as it is rare to see such countries productions.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award and retrospective of Israeli director Dan Wolman with 3 of his films (we saw one of them “Hide and Seek”, 1980, and appreciated very much for its sensitivity and its subtle message).

So, as always, our week was full from the first minute we arrive in Panaji: registering to get our accreditation as Delegates is the first thing we must do upon arriving. Without our badge, brochures and film schedule, we are nobody in the festival and would not even think of entering the premises! With our kit we can then start to navigate as efficiently as possible through all the programs and activities. Every day we had to be at 8 am to join a line already formed at the ticket counters in the festival premises. A maximum of three films per person can be booked per day, with the possibility to attend one or two more – schedule and seat availability permitting – as well as energy... Our program was always very tight, filled with many hours of film screenings – with walking from one movie hall to the other, joining their waiting lines, taking a snack or drink break, attending part of a forum or tracking a press conference from a screen somewhere. Our meeting with deputy director at DFF and in charge of the Indian Panorama, Ms. Tanu Rai, is a must if we want an access to the Indian films for our Panorama in Auroville. We also meet NFAI in charge to maintain a contact there – and because we have a 3 decade long association with them – and some producers, technicians, screen-writers, journalists, film students and so on. Some film directors, journalists, producers and other people recognized us and we could exchange our perspectives on the festival organisation and film selection, give their and take our recommendations based on film seen or known by our interlocutor or ourselves. Our days were more than full and the week was (as foreseen) was quite tiring – yet, highly enriching.

Outcomes:

Attending IFFI enabled us to select 10 good films for our 3 day “Panorama of Contemporary Indian Cinema” festival. We have also renewed our contact with the Directorate Film Festivals from Delhi. This is the most important as this institution is the one giving us permission to screen these new films in Auroville; most of them are not yet released in the country. Finding authorization from the various producers to screen them publicly in Auroville would be an impossible task – hiring fees would be exponentially expensive as Aurofilm is not in the regular distribution circuits and our presence is not established well enough. At the festival, we also met directors, technicians and film producers and could directly speak with them, presenting ourselves and possibly invite them. Many of them have heard about Auroville and would be (or are) delighted to have their film presented in Auroville for the promotion of their work and because they trust Auroville is a wonderful platform for art, if not for progress and being a model in many ways for the world.

To actively attend this film festival is the best opportunity for the Aurofilm team to follow what happens in the realm of film production from India and the world. The Auroville community ultimately benefits in being exposed to quality Indian and world cinema through the screenings we organize throughout the year. The various films we choose to watch during the festival are also for reference, for our film making and research.

Our presence and outreaching effort in such events/festivals in India also somehow shows that Auroville is a place where culture and art is a major component of research and where we believe that quality cinema is an important aspect of our quest for human unity and progressive change in our human nature. All in all, with this exhaustive program, we really make good use of the place and time to gather contacts and material for our work for the year.