Megastar Amitabh Bachchan will inaugurate 22nd Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) for the fifth time in a row along with actors Jaya Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Kajol but Shah Rukh Khan, West Bengal’s brand ambassador, will be absent this time. The eight-day-long festival organised by West Bengal government will begin on November 11 and will screen 156 films from 65 countries across 13 venues in the city.
Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary to the state information and culture department, said Bachchan has been coming to KIFF inaugural function for the last four years and this year too he has confirmed his presence on their request. “Sanjay Dutt and Kajol will be coming this year while Jaya Bachchan will be the guest of honour. Shah Rukh will not be able to come this year,” he said.
There will be no films from Pakistan, while China will be the focus country this time with seven films. “There is no political colour in the selection of films. We want to celebrate good cinema from all over the world,” Bhattacharya said. KIFF chairperson Goutam Ghosh said the theme this year is ‘Cinema for all and all for cinema’ and aims to bring films for everyone.
“This is the age of intolerance in religion, politics and culture. Cinema cannot solve problems but it can introduce people of one nation to another and lead to increased understanding,” he said. This year a new competitive category has been added to the festival. Award for ‘Innovations in Moving Images’ will be given to encourage new ideas and new concepts, to pioneer a change in the realm of cinema, Ghosh said.
Another new section in KIFF would be biopics where seven films on the lives of filmmakers will be shown, he said. Besides large screens, a selection of old classical films will also be shown in theatres across the city. The government has upgraded the screens at Rabindra Sadan and Nandan-II to 2k projection system, he added. The West Bengal government has taken an initiative with actress Jaya Bachchan to restore old films.
Atri Bhattacharya, the principal secretary of state information and culture department, said that in the last Kolkata International Film Festival Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had discussed the issue with the actress. “They have put together a group to deal with this. The work has started,” he said without giving details. Eminent filmmaker Goutam Ghosh said that digitisation of masterpieces was the need of the hour since labs were closing down and there was no place to keep the negatives safely. “Both the government and the corporate sector should come forward in digitising masterpieces,” he said.