It was an evening of Bollywood glamour, a sprinkling of leading global cinema personalities and a promise to make India an international destination of good cinema that marked the start of the 43rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2012) in Goa last Tuesday evening.
India's Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, inaugurating the 11-day Festival, assured the gathering that the government is taking a number of steps to nurture the Indian film industry and to promote India as a destination for film shooting.
At a time when India is celebrating 100 years of its cinema, he said government is embarking on an ambitious National Film Heritage Mission to preserve the country's film heritage.
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, who was the chief guest, recalled what cinema meant for him and his family at one point of time when he was struggling to enter the film world. He said he and his family would forego their lunch every Saturday and use that money to see a film on that day. Akshay and his family still do watch movies every Saturday and the only difference is that they don't have to forego the lunch, added the actor.
Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Indian Information and Broadcasting Secretary, said IFFI has grown from strength to strength incorporating new themes and all efforts will be made to imbibe the spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the whole world is one family) through the event.
Renowned Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award on the occasion by Manish Tewari. The award carries Rs 10 lakh, a scroll, a shawl and a certificate.
Known for producing acclaimed films like “Camouflage”, “Family life”, and “The Silent Touch”, Zanussi said amidst a standing ovation that it was the “most moving moment” of his life that he was being awarded for an achievement and promised to make more films in the future.
He said that the 21st century will be Asia's century and it is his deep belief that it will be India's century.
Eminent Indian director Gautam Ghosh, chairman of the International Jury at IFFI this year, and all the jury members were felicitated by the organisers of the festival.
Ghosh said, IFFI has gone through many ups and downs but it's still growing. He called for more autonomy for the film body to function in an efficient way.
The opening of the festival was hosted by actors Kabir Bedi and Perizaad Zorabian of “Joggers' Park” fame and showcased the evolution of 100 years of Indian cinema through a combo of music, dance and videos conceived and directed by leading Assamese director Jahnu Barua, choreographer Saroj Khan and Sajjad Ali. The nearly two-hour cultural extravaganza came to a close with a spell-binding rendition of songs by Kailash Kher.
Besides Akshay Kumar, an array of Bollywood stars like Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Om Puri, Jackie Shroff and Vinay Pathak were present at the opening ceremony.
As a part of the international presence, there were renowned film personalities like Kim Ki-duk, the veteran filmmaker from South Korea, Michael Winterbottom, Susanne Bier, amongst others.
Oscar award winning director Ang Lee's 3D film “Life of Pi”, starring Irrfan and Tabu, was screened as the opening film of the Festival.
More than 100 movies will be screened as a part of the 'Indian Cinema' and the 'World Cinema' segments of the Festival.
The 'Indian Panorama' section will screen 20 feature films with “Baandhon” directed by Jahnu Barua as the opening film, and 19 films in the non-feature section with “Celluloid Man” directed by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur as the inaugural movie.
Barua's film revolves around the story of two persons, both 73 years old, who reach Mumbai to look for their beloved grandson -- the only other living member of the family, who has been missing since the deadly terror attacks by 10 Pakistani gunmen on November 26, 2008 that left 167 people dead.
Apart from the International Competition section, film buffs at the 43rd IFFI will be treated to a varied line-up of world cinema which will be showcased in sections like 'Cinema of the World' including Mira Nair's “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” as the closing film.
Other sections in the International section include 'A Cut Above', 'Masterstrokes', 'Festival Kaleidoscope', 'Turkish Currents', 'Sketches on Screen', 'Retrospective: Susanne Bier', 'Special Tribute: Ashok Amritraj', 'In Focus: Kim Ki-duk', 'Soul of Asia', 'Documentaries' and 'Homages'.