Chaos erupted at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2018 being held in Goa on Thursday as a big group of festival delegates accused the organisers of poor queue management, insulting delegates and making ‘regionalist remarks’. For over 20 minutes, sloganeering, demands of apologies and accusation filled the air as several dozen delegates who had booked tickets to watch a film at Kala Academy, one of the major venues, were turned away by organisers.
Rajendra Talak, Vice Chairman of Entertainment Society of Goa, which organises IFFI along with Directorate of Film Festival (DFF), bore the ire of delegates who were not allowed to see The Guilty, a Danish film which is among the festival favourites this year, even though they had pre-booked it.
The altercation which lasted for over 20 minutes took an ugly turn after Talak, who reached the venue after delegates demanded to see organisers, allegedly told a delegate hailing from Kerala, who demanded to know when IFFI will hold a second screening of the film, “go back to your home”.
“We had reached the venue well in advance but couldn’t get in because, they started allowing people with tickets to enter only 20 minutes prior to the screening. We were waiting in the queue but couldn’t enter as security personnel started allowing those without tickets to enter 10 minutes before the film started. There was clear mismanagement on part of those who were handling the queue hence we demanded that organisers should apologise and a second screening of the film should be organised. It was then that that he (Talak) told me, ‘I know you are from Kerala. You should go back home’. What he said is unconstitutional and he should apologise,” said Kamal.
A few journalists and delegates who had witnessed the altercation confirmed Kamal’s narration of the incident.
Several delegates from various parts of India who were left out of this screening expressed strong displeasure over the management. “What happened today is a symptom of large malice. Lines are not managed properly. Organisers don’t care about delegates and if they are being taken care of. Delegates have to suffer and this has been happening for years,” said Ajay Jai Singhani, a delegate from Delhi.
Chaos and clashes between delegates and organisers over entry to film screenings is a usual affair at IFFI as there is a huge mismatch between number of delegates who register to watch the film and number of cumulative seats available to accommodate them. The total seating capacity of all seven venues is just above 1300 where as every year about 5000-7000 delegates register for the festival. The situation turns more volatile at the screening of popular films.
As per organisers, the issue will be resolved by next year as a new special venue ‘IFFI Complex’, which is presently under construction and will multiply the seating capacity, will be ready before the next edition of the festival when IFFI will celebrate its golden jubilee.