The Pune International Film Festival (PIFF), which so far had been on a growth trajectory since its inception in 2002 in terms of the number of cinephiles registering to watch the films, has for the first time seen a steep decline in the number of delegates this year.
While 9,800 delegates had registered for PIFF 2015, only 3,490 had registered this year until Wednesday evening.
The festival is being held this year from January 14-21.
The decline in numbers may be attributed to rampant cancellations and change of venues which played as a dampener last year. The festival, which has a shoe-string budget, has also failed to to rope in most of the acclaimed films of the year.
As per the data on the PIFF’s official website, first edition of festival in 2002 had seen 1,200 cinephiles registering for the fest. This number then consistently went up (2,200 in 2003, 4,300 in 2009, 9,000 in 2011) with 9,800 delegates registering last year.
This year, the organisers hoped, the number may go up to 5,000 by the time of the inaugural, which will be held Thursday evening.
PIFF director Jabbar Patel said, “These are online registrations. These may not convey the actual situation since spot registrations are also on. I am sure it will cross 5,000 mark. The registrations aren’t low.”
While Patel maintained sport admissions were not included in the 3,490 tally, PIFF secretary Ravi Gupta said it included all modes. “The number will go up as traditionally, the last couple of days see most of the registrations. Even 4,000 is a formidable tally. Not to forget, there will be an addition of 350-400 guests and invitees who don’t register,” said Gupta.
Film lovers, on their part, blamed “rampant cancellation” and “technical glitches”, which spoil the fun among cinephiles.
Swapnil Ninawe, a film direction student at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), said,”I am not surprised by the falling numbers at all. Since Pune is known as a city full of cinephiles, the number should have gone up with the each passing year. But due to botched-up management which delegates suffered last two-three years, especially last year, has surely played a dampener. Last year, there were so many cancellations and change of venues that I quit the festival on the fourth day.”
Jayoo Patwardhan, a city-based film director, said the festival losing sheen could have something to do with “unprofessional management.”
“Many a time, it happens that films which are announced and are main attractions of the festival are not shown. They are cancelled at the last moment. This is a major reason why sensible people don’t go to PIFF because films they want to see are simply not there. Everything is done at the last minute. The structure of the film festival is also not well planned and doesn’t have a professional outlook. Two years back, I was invited to be in conversation with a director. When I reached, they said the venue was changed and I had no clue. People all over the world plan festivals way in advance. Audience is bound to feel cheated due to this chaos. The excuse of not enough money is not correct. One must have the priority for spending so that the festival is a success,” said Patwardhan.
The opening ceremony will be held at City Pride, Kothrud, and will be inugurated by Vinod Tawde, state’s Minister for Cultural Affairs. The ceremony will be followed by opening film The Thin Yellow Line (2015/Celso R Garcia/Mexico). PIFF will showcase more than 2,80 films from 65 countries.