Monday, January 07, 2008


Quality vs Quantity?

The International Film Festival of Kerala is an event that all cineastes look forward to every year. This year iffk 2007 features some very stimulating packages, homages and tributes, apart from some of the most important contemporary films from all over the world.

According to sources, about 6000 delegate passes have been issued, which indicates its increasing popularity and local interest in the event. The rise in the proportion of female delegates and the youth have been the most positive features of this festival which was earlier limited only to the 'initiated'. But this 'democratisation' of participation in the festival has not been without its problems. One major problem has been the quality of viewing, which has a lot to do with the culture of film viewing. The experience of the last two years should certainly disturb anyone who really value films and filmmakers. Instances of constant walkouts and walkins, phone rings, conversations over mobile phones etc have been a regular phenomenon in our festival. This not only disturbs those who would like to watch the film peacefully, but also shows thorough disrespect to the film or filmmaker in question. So, increasing participation is definitely something that has to be accompanied by greater responsibility, respect and discipline. Obviously, it cannot be enforced from above, but has to be part of a healthy and positive film viewing habit. Certainly not everyone likes all kinds of films; what is 'great' for one may be 'trash' to another. But it is all about respect for oneself and others, and also respect for efforts behind the work being screened. It is also the question of taking enough pains to understand the other, the different, the faraway. The question of quality of viewership is something the film viewing community participating in IFFK has to seriously address.

This quantitative increase in participation also follows a certain pattern. It gives one a feeling that it is the 'festival' that attracts delegates rather than the 'films' themselves. For, if the audience were actually drawn to the festival by the films, then the various monthly screenings at the film societies and campuses should have attracted more people. Most of these screenings are finding it difficult to get people to see them. But the rush for the festival is increasing year by year.

The change in the nature of viewers and pattern of viewership is also reflected in the interactive sessions, whether it be the Open Forum, Seminars or Meet the Directors. In recent years, such sessions have turned into dull affairs, where nothing serious or interesting transpires. So, one is left to wonder whether this rush is yet another variety of consumerism, a la the famous Kerala Model, which is all about consumption and distribution and much less about creation and production. It is impossible to turn one's face away from the question whether these festivals have really synergized our film industry – both mainstream and independent. Or, is this kind of scopophilic exposure to global products adding further to our inferiority complex about the 'little' films that we make under severe constraints, limited budgets and for small markets?

If organizationally, our festival urgently needs to address the question of the quality of viewership, technically, we have to address the quality of screening, which has been very poor compared to global and even national standards. Both are questions relating to respect –respect that we owe to the films and to our fellow viewers.

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Blogger Poésie en français par BonjourLalit said...

If the viewers in Kerala are behaving badly alors how are they being issued delegate passes.

10:31 AM  

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