Monday, January 07, 2008


Film Festival, Audience & Media

The 12th International Film Festival of Kerala that concluded yesterday was one of the best in its history. It had some very interesting and stimulating packages like films from the Caribbean and the Balkans, the Anthologies series, Latin American Women filmmakers etc apart from a very exhaustive retrospectives of the Korean master Im Kwon Taek and Pedro Aldomavar, the maverick filmmaker from Spain who is being showcased for the first time in such depth in India. The World Cinema section featured the latest works of contemporary masters like Alexander Sokurov, Lars von Trier, Takeshi Kitano, Miguel Littin, Taviani Brothers, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Zhang Yimou etc

What distinguishes this year's festival was the splendidly mature way in which the audience (more than 7500 delegates) conducted themselves. It is only natural that despite the careful and well spread out scheduling of films, there were solitary instances of overcrowding for some films. It was also an indication of the enthusiasm and passion for good films. While content and participation have always been its strength, one of the major limitations of IFFK has been its inability to take our films to the world by opening avenues for our filmmakers to market, showcase and sell their films abroad. This year, a significant initiative was made in this regard. There was a very fruitful and informative interface between local filmmakers and representatives of the industry and some of the major players in international film festival circuit, global film marketing and selling. This beginning, one hopes would make some headway in exploring an international market and attention for regional cinemas. Something that would certainly synergise our stagnant film economy and aesthetics.

The media coverage of the festival was very exhaustive with most of the newspapers and channels giving it ample space and time. Curiously, the 'smaller' newspapers carried much better analysis and insightful coverage compared to the big – almost monopolistic – players. The latter seemed to take a very laid back attitude to the event – one of the most important international cultural events in the state- and more often indulged in trivia or regurgitation of the synopses of the films being shown. There was neither an effort to look at the event with the seriousness it deserves, nor a passion for cinema evident in its coverage. One glaring instance was the news reports about the signature film made by a promising young filmmaker. While one may have difference of opinion about the film itself, the reports were talking more about the filmmaker and the imagined machinations behind its making. Triggered by the intolerant howls in the auditorium, these reports seemed to fuel it further rather than bring some sort of sanity and initiate intelligent discussions about it. This intolerance towards anything different and new is also indicative of our mindset that is increasingly enslaved by the lyrical-nostalgic on the one, and the global-consumerist on the other. While we are all voracious for anything new and experimental from outside, we don't give a damn about anything like that around us. In the process, anything local and innovative gets booed out.

But the seriousness and involvement shown by the viewers in the festival and the keen interest it has generated amongst cineastes from all over ought to take it to new heights and possibilities. If at all that happens, it would be despite the media.


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