The International Film Festival of India kicked off in Panaji today with Spanish director Carlos Saura’s The King of all the World. The screening of Saura’s musical, shot by the legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, followed a glitzy opening ceremony hosted by Karan Johar and Maniesh Paul.
The 52nd edition of the festival, which will run till November 28, is both physical and virtual in the light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Delegates who cannot travel to Goa can register on the IFFI website and watch some of the titles.
The programme includes 148 films in the international section and the premieres of 64 Indian films, according to a press release.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur cited his favourite line from a Hindi film at the inaugural ceremony: “I don’t hear the names of states, I only hear the word India.” The line is from Shimit Amin’s Chak De! India, starring Shah Rukh Khan.
Actor Hema Malini was honoured with the Indian Film Personality of the Year award at the event. Hema Malini cited her roles in the films Lal Patthar, Ek Chaadar Maili Si, Seeta aur Geeta and Sholay as among her favourites.
Lyricist and Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Prasoon Joshi will receive the same honour at the closing ceremony.
The Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award was given to American filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Hungarian director Istvan Szabo. A selection of their respective films, including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Mephisto and Father will be shown at IFFI.
While neither filmmaker attended the event, they sent videos extolling Ray. Scorsese said in his pre-recorded message, “Ray is one of my masters, one of the filmmakers whose works I turn to over and over throughout my life.”
Scorsese recalled seeing Pather Panchali for the first time on television, with commercial breaks and dubbed in English. He called it a “revelatory experience” and credited Ravi Shankar’s score with having influenced the background music in his own films.
Szabo recalled meeting Ray for dinner in Chennai years ago, where they had a “fantastic” and “profound” discussion about cinema. “I can’t forget his radiant, charismatic face, his spirit,” Szabo said.
The five-member jury for the International Competition section is led by Iranian director Rakhshan Banietemad. The other members are Stephen Woolley, Ciro Guerra, Vimukthi Jayasundara and Nila Madhab Panda.
Among the films in the International Competition section are Nipun Dharmadhikari’s Me Vasantrao, a Marathi-language biopic of Vasantrao Deshpande. The Hindustani classical singing legend will be portrayed by his grandson, the musician Rahul Deshpande.
The International Competition section includes Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari’s Land of Dreams, Hamy Ramezan’s Any Day Now, Simon Franco’s Charlotte and Dmitry Fedorov’s Moscow Does Not Happen.
Among the noteworthy international films are Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers, Ayten Amin’s Souad, Mia Hansen-Love’s Bergman Island, Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s Anais in Love, Sonja Tarokic’s The Staffroom, Shawkat Amin Korki’s The Exam, Francois Ozon’s Everything Went Fine, Hong Sangsoo’s In Front of Your Face and Benoit Jacquot’s Suzanne Andler.
Among the titles in the Indian panorama section are PS Vinothraj’s Koozhangal, Akriti Singh’s Eight Down Toofan Mail, Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s Soumitra Chatterjee tribute Abhijaan, Aimee Baruah’s Semkhor, Biswajeet Bora’s Boomba Ride, Sagar Puranik’s Dollu and Vivek Rajendra Dubey’s Funeral.
Four of the titles in the World Panorama section are presented by Mubi: Julia Ducournau’s Titane, Valdimar Johannsson’s Lamb, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria and Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person In The World.
Tributes to actors and filmmakers who recently passed away include the films of Dilip Kumar, Sumitra Bhave, Nedumudi Venu, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Sanchari Vijay, Surekha Sikri, Bertrand Tavenier, Christopher Plummer, Jean-Claude Carriere, Puneeth Rajkumar and Waman Bhonsle.
On the programme is a retrospective of the films of Hungarian master Bela Tarr, Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky, and actor Rajinikanth.
Among the highlights is a tie-up with streaming platforms that will result in premieres of films and episodes from upcoming series. These include Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which won Campion the Best Director at the Venice Film Festival this year. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, the period drama will be streamed on Netflix on December 1.
Amazon Prime Video will premiere its upcoming horror film Chhorii at IFFI and present a package of Satyajit Ray films. Amazon will also organise two masterclasses led by the creators and cast of the series The Family Man and the film Sardar Udham.
The festival will close on November 28 with celebrated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero, about a prisoner on parole who attempts to get the complainant against him withdrawn. The Amazon original movie won the jury award at Cannes earlier this year.
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