The 21st edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala got underway here today in a colourful opening ceremony. It is claimed to be the first ever transgender-friendly movie festival of its kind and shedding light on the pangs of refugees the world over.The event, attended by hundreds of movie buffs including foreign delegates, began with a silent prayer paying homage to various departed film personalities including former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who passed away on December 5. The eight-day movie gala commenced with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other dignitaries lighting the artistically-decorated lamps at the venue in Nishagandhi open auditorium, which was decked up using bamboo, hay and jute products abiding by the green protocol.
Vijayan said the festival is the state’s pride. “The World comes to Kerala for eight days. Films are a source of entertainment as well as a platform to educate,” he said. The week-long gala gives a boost to the state’s economy also through the tourism sector as a number of foreign, as well as domestic delegates, flock here to attend the event annually, he added.
State finance minister T M Thomas Isaac said the state would witness an investment of Rs 2500 crore in the cultural sector in the next five years. Bollywood actor-director Amol Palekar, who was the chief guest recollected his association with Kerala and shared the memories of Balu Mahendra-directed Malayalam movie ‘Olangal’ during the 1980s, in which he played the protagonist.
Czech filmmaker Jiri Menzel, a master of portraying a humanistic view of the world with sarcasm in his films, was conferred the IFFK’s Lifetime Achievement Award of this year by the Chief Minister. Navid Mahmoudi-directed Afghan movie ‘Parting’, which revolves around the hardships faced by refugees, was screened before a packed audience. An Afghan-Iran co-production, the movie was Afghanistan s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 89th Academy Awards.
As many as 185 films from 62 countries would be screened under various categories in the festival, scheduled to conclude on December 16. The ‘Gender Bender’ category, exclusively dedicated to third gender movies, is one of the major features of this year’s IFFK. ‘Rara’ (Chile), ‘Something Must Break’ (Sweden) and ‘Quick Change’ (Philippines) would be some of the movies to be screened under the category.
Noted director and Kerala Chalachitra Academy Chairpersons Kamal, in his speech, acknowledged the transgender community in the audience as ‘TG friends’, giving a clear indication of the approach of the festival towards the marginalised group. Minister of Cultural Affairs and Cinema, A K Balan, Shashi Tharoor MP and artistic director Bina Paul Venugopal
were also present.