TARA NARAYAN rounds up the highlights of the International Film Festival in Goa this year…

THE 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is all set to roll in Goa from November 20 to 28, 2021 and given the present Covid-19 situation this year too it will held in a hybrid format. Some of it will be part of the virtual film festival and some of it will be screened at the INOX auditoriums big screens. The details are still being worked out.

The usual IFFI concentrates on showcasing a collage of the best of contemporary and classic films from around the world and Goa sees a host of world renowned filmmakers, actors, technicians, critics, academicians and film enthusiasts who are only too happy celebrating fine vintage and contemporary cinema. Along with this comes along workshops in the art of filmmaking through screenings, presentations, master classes and panel discussions, co-productions, seminars and more.

IFFI is a much-awaited event in Goa’s cinematic calendar for film buffs, enthusiasts, connoisseurs and also those seeking a relaxed holiday in Goa, taking time off to see films which one wouldn’t get a chance to see in ordinary routine life!

The Indian Panorama section has already announced 45 films on the official selection list for this year’s IFFI and the opening film will be Semkhor (Dimasa) directed by Aimee Baruah, while Ved…The Visionary (English) directed by Rajiv Prakash will be the opening film in the Non-Features films category. A total of 25 feature films have been selected for screening during IFFI, they have been selected from a wide pool of 221 contemporary Indian films. The feature films reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the Indian film industry. There are a total of  20 non-feature films, selected out of 203 films submitted for selection.

Altogether there will be a record 624 films from 96 countries for the International Section. The Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Thakur has announced that  Istevan Szabo and Martin Scorsese will be conferred the prestigious Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award. Satyajit Ray needs no introduction for he is India’s acclaimed filmmaker both at home and abroad, Istavan Szabo is one of the most critically acclaimed Hungarian film directors of the past few decades and known for masterpieces like Mephisto (1981), Father (1966). Martin Scorsese is one of the major figures of the New Hollywood era, widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential directors in film history.

ANOTHER announcement to note is that for the first time IFFI has invited major OTT players to participate at the festival through exclusive Master Classes, content launches and previews, curated film package screenings and various other on-ground and virtual events.  As Anurag Thakur observes the trend of watching movies on OTT is on the rise the world over and IFFI is embracing new technology and providing a platform for the industry’s artists to interact with OTT players this year.

 In fact, Netflix will be organising the India premiere of `The Power of the Dog’ by Jane Campion. There may also be a special screen of film `Dhamaka’ including an introduction of the film by talented Kartik Aaryan and a preview of Episode 1 of `Aranyak’ – an upcoming crime thriller series starring Raveena Tandon and Ashutosh Rana. Some more exciting news is that IFFI is providing a platform for young budding talent from across India to connect with mainstream cinema film-makers and the industry.  Something like 75 creative minds under 35 years are being invited to interact with industry leaders and attend Master Classes. 

For the first time ever films from the five BRICS nations will be showcased through the BRICS Film Festival alongside IFFI. The five countries are Brazil, Russia, South Africa, China and India, these are the Focus Countries of the  52nd  International Film Festival of India. Homage will be paid to Dilip Kumar, Sumitra Bhave, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Sanchari Vijay, Surekha Sikri, Jean-Claude Carriere,  Bertrand Tavenier,  Christopher Plummer and Jean-Claude Carriere.

Furthermore IFFI’s Retrospective section will feature renowned Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr whose films have won accolades at Berlin, Cannes and Locarno film festivals; also a retrospective of Russian filmmaker and stage director Andrei Konchalovsky.  His films have won the Cannes Grand Prix Special du Jury, a FIPRESCI Award, two Silver Lions, three Golden Eagle Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award. IFFI will pay a Special Tribute to Sir Sean Connery, the first actor to portray fictional British agent James Bond on the big screen.

Cinegoers may look forward to a rewarding IFFI this year so make your preparations. IFFI is here to lift your spirit from the doldrums of Covid-19 and its lockdowns. All Covid-19 rules and regulations will be in place naturally, nobody is taking any chances.

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