The International Film Festival of India is the oldest event of its kind in the country and the best-funded, and it shows in the 2016 edition’s programme. The 47th edition, which will run from November 20-28 in the Goan capital Panaji, will screen 194 films from 88 countries.
The festival, funded and organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, will open with Afterimage, the swan song of legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda, who died on October 9, 2016. Classics by Wajda, including Ashes and Diamonds, Man of Iron and Katyn, will also be screened.
The festival will also pay much-needed homage to Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami , who died on July 4, 2016 . Apart from some of his masterworks, including The Wind Will Carry Us, Taste of Cherry and Ten, a documentary on his life will be shown.
Tributes to other celebrity directors, actors and technicians both dead and alive, including Richard Linklater, Stanley Kubrick, Ken Loach, Fritz Lang, Toshiro Mifune and Vilmos Zsigmond, will be paid in the form of documentaries about their life and work.
Here’s a selection from the films on offer.
American Honey A programming coup for IFFI. Andrea Arnold’s 163-minute road film, starring Shia LaBeouf and breakout star Sasha Lane, was one of the big misses at the Mumbai Film Festival in October. The plot: a teen runaway joins a travelling magazine sales crew on a journey through the heart of America.
Arrival Based on a short story by award-winning author Ted Chiang, Dennis Villeneuve’s acclaimed science fiction thriller is set against the backdrop of an alien invasion. A linguist (Amy Adams), an astrophysicist (Jeremy Renner) and an US Army Colonel (Forest Whitaker) team up to analyse the invasion site. Arrival will be released in theatres on November 25.
Exile Renowned Cambodian director Rithy Panh’s documentary revisits the themes of his acclaimed 2013 film The Missing Picture, which used figurines to recreate his memories of the Khmer Rouge. In Exile, Panh explores the period in his life between 1975-79, when he was forced to move out of Phnom Penh during Pol Pot’s dictatorship.
Graduation Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s fifth feature was born out of his own experiences. A bright medical student is all set to take a crucial examination that will ensure her admission in a prestigious British university until fate intervenes. The father, a respected doctor, pulls all the strings he can.
Paterson Indie favourite Jim Jarmusch returns to his low-key roots for this drama starring Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani. Driver plays a bus driver who writes poetry in his spare time and has settled into a quiet routine despite his wife’s attempts to pursue the artistic life.
The Death of Louis XIV French icon Jean-Pierre Leaud returns to the big screen in Albert Serra’s biopic on the last days of the French monarch.
It’s Only the End of the World Enfant terrible Xavier Dolan is only 27 but already six films old. The film about a writer returning to his hometown to tell his family that he is terminally ill, polarised audiences at the Cannes Film Festival.
I, Daniel Blake Ken Loach won his second Palme D’or for this savage critique of the British welfare system. A construction worker teams up with a single mother and tries to take on an administration that is bent on denying them what is due to them.
United States of Love Tomasz Wasilewski’s award-winning Polish drama explores the impact of the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1990 on four women.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki Winner of the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival, Juho Kuosmanen’s fictional drama is inspired by the life of Olli Maki, a Finnish boxer who won the European lightweight title as an amateur.
Mammal Irish filmmaker Rebecca Daly’s second feature, a Sundance hit, stars Rachel Griffiths as a Dublin mother who befriends a homeless boy after her son dies.
I Am Your Father The documentary by Spanish filmmakers Toni Bestard and Marcos Cabota revisits the story of the actor-bodybuilder Robert Prowse, who was the man in the Darth Vader suit in the original Star Wars trilogy.
Bench Cinema Mohammad Rahmanian’s film is a love letter to classic American cinema. The protagonist spends his prison term watching movies and travels through the Iranian countryside performing them as a one-man show after he is released.
Tamara The mid-fest film at IFFI, directed by Elia Schneider, is a biopic of Venezuela’s first transgender politician Tamara Adrian.
The King of Pigs Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-Ho has become the latest South Korean filmmaker to find international fame with his zombie smash hit. This 2011 animated drama is an ultra-violent exploration of childhood bullying. The King of Pigs is part of a package of films from South Korea. Also on the list is The Wailing, Na Hong-jin’s 156-minute horror epic in which a policeman, a shaman and a mysterious woman team up to explore violent murders in a South Korean town.
Le Secret de la Chambre Noire Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s first film shot outside his native country features A Prophet star Tahar Rahim and Oliver Gourmet, who work with a 19th century photography technique because they believe it gives eternal life to the souls of the people they photograph.
Farewell My Indian Soldier A co-production between UK-based Silhouette films and Rajya Sabha TV, Vijay Singh’s WW1 docu-drama uses archival material, testimonies and 600 letters to tell the story of close to 140,000 Indian soldiers and civilians who defended France against invasion.
Celine and Julie Go Boating Part of the homage section to recently deceased filmmakers. French New Wave auteur Jacques Rivette’s 1974 movie is a three-hour plus meditation on magic, female friendship, and haunted houses.
Life, Animated Owen Suskind’s autism leaves him unable to connect with the world and people and large. Disney films allow him to explore his feelings. The documentary is by Roger Ross Williams.
Kaadu Pookkunna Neram This Malayalam film, which was premiered at the Montreal Film Festival, is about a policeman who is sent to a forest to arrest a woman who is said to be a Maoist. The film was shot in the forests of Achenkovil and Konni in Kerala.
K Sera Sera The premiere of the lone Konkani film in the lineup at IFFI is the debut of theatre practitioner Rajeev Shinde, whose short films have been previously screened at the festival.
Dikchow Banat Palaax National Film Award-winning director’s Sanjib Sabhapandit’s Assamese film is set in 1946. A freedom fighter is banished from his home state by the British and is separated from his lover, a Naga woman, in the process.
Ishti Billed as the country’s first Sanskrit film on a social issue, Ishti will open the festival’s Indian panorama section. Made by G Prabhu, the period production features a group of young Namboothiri Brahmins who challenge the patriarchal nature of their community in mid-twentieth century Kerala.