THE International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will open on Tuesday evening in Goa, with the premiere of Bernd Böhlich-directed The Aspern Papers. Going by the international line-up, which features the highest number of Oscar entries from various countries — 16 to be precise — as well as this year’s acclaimed movies, such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree and Hirokazu Koreeda’s Shoplifters, the eight-day festival seems to offer some of the best titles that have come out in the last year.
The list includes The Guilty (Denmark), Yomeddine (Egypt), Woman at War (Iceland), Dogman (Italy), Border (Swedish) and Ayka (Kazakhstan). If Birds of Passage (Spain) revolves around drug trade in Columbia in the 1970s, Cold War (Poland) is a story of love and passion that plays out during the austere times of the 1950s. The festival will close with the premiere of another international movie, Sealed Lips, from Germany.
Several of these films were also screened at the recently-concluded Mumbai Film Festival. The announcement of the IFFI line-up, however, was considered late for an international festival.
The Indian Panorama — which was under the spotlight last year following the removal of Ravi Jadhav’s Nude and Sanal Sasidharan’s S Durga — seems to have made its selections with caution under the chairmanship of filmmaker Rahul Rawail for the features section and director-editor Vinod Ganatra for non-feature.
Shaji N Karun-directed Olu will open the features section that will screen 26 movies, while Kharvas by Aditya Suhas Jambhale will be the opening movie for the non-feature section that contains 21 titles. To represent the voice of women, the festival will be hosting conversations with directors Meghna Gulzar, Leena Yadav and Gauri Shinde.
Till some years ago, IFFI struggled to have “stars” in attendance, but several talks and masterclasses, this year, are helmed by big names from the film industry. Producer Rhea Kapoor will moderate a masterclass with her father, actor Anil Kapoor. Filmmaker Boney Kapoor will also be in conversation with his children, Janhvi and Arjun. Holding a similar conversation will be filmmaker David Dhawan with his son, actor Varun Dhawan. Popular playback singer Arijit Singh, whose debut movie as film director, Sa, premieres at IFFI 2018, will speak about “Hitting the right notes”. Actor Kriti Sanon will interact with the audience in the session “Ms. Takens’ Identity — Getting to know Kriti Sanon” and Shoojit Sircar, whose movie October will be screened at the festival, will also participate in a session. From the South, film personalities such as Venkatesh, Suresh Babu and Rana Daggubati will feature in similar sessions.
This edition has the unique distinction of having three Indian regional films — out of a total of 15 — in the International Competition section. The movies competing for the Golden Peacock Award are Jayaraj-directed Bhayanakam, Chezhiyan Ra-directed To Let and Lijo Jose Pellissery-directed Ee.Ma.Yau. While Bhayanakam has already bagged two National Awards — for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay — Ee.Maa.Yau is Pellissery’s first outing after much-acclaimed Angamaly Diaries. A statement issued by the directorate of IFFI states: “It is great to see three Indian films make it to the International Competition Section at IFFI this year. It shows that our cinema is thriving and is at par with the best from around the world.”