International Film Festival of Kerala kicks off months after widespread disaster
After the devastating August deluge, the curtains went up Friday for the 23rd edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), sending a message of optimism and resilience. Inaugurating the seven-day-long festival, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the country was passing through a time when communalism and narrow-minded nationalism were standing shoulder to shoulder.
"In the name of faith and patriotism, efforts are being made to divide the people", he said and stressed the need to "exercise caution as such forces would hamper the unity",seen at the time of calamities like the recent floods in Kerala.
This festival would help Kerala show to the world that despite the devastating floods, the worst in a century, it was standing strong in the art and cultural field, he said.
"Such festivals help to give hope to the devastated minds of the people and were as important as rebuilding the state," he added. In an apparent reference to the Sabarimala temple entry issue, Vijayan said attempts were being made to bring back the social evils of the 19th century such as anti-women traditions and superstitions to 'pollute' society.
When such issues are raising a challenge, society is closely monitoring the stance being taken by the film fraternity, he said. Kerala Cultural Affairs minister A K Balan, who presided, said that theatres were charging half rate for the IFFK, while cinema houses of Kerala Film Development Corporation would screen movies free of cost.
At least 8,000 delegates have registered so far for the festival and the government expects 2000 more in the coming days. Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, the chief guest, said that it was a matter of pride to come to the IFFK as it was one of the most important festivals happening in India.
"This festival is a matter of pride for all of us", he said. Actress and filmmaker Nandita Das was the guest of honour. Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and jury chairman Majid Majidi received the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' from the Chief Minister.
State Minister Kadakampally Surendran launched the Festival Handbook by handing it over to V K Prasanth, Mayor. K Muraleedharan, MLA, inaugurated the Festival Bulletin. Following the ceremony, the opening film, 'Everybody Knows' directed by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, was screened.
The festival will screen over 160 films from around the world. Over 90 films have been included in the World Cinema package. With the message of optimism to the state in its post-flood recovery, a package of six films has been included, named 'The Human Spirit: Films on Hope and Rebuilding'.
Fourteen films, including two Malayalam movies -- 'Ee.Ma.Yau' and 'Sudani From Nigeria' will participate in the International competition. To celebrate the birth centenary of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, seven of his films, and the documentary 'Searching For Ingmar Bergman', will be screened. In the 'Remembering The Master' package, six films by Czech filmmaker Milas Forman will be featured.
Six films by Lenin Rajendran have been included in the 'Lenin Rajendran: Chronicler of Our Times' package. The festival, organised by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, will conclude on December 13.
With limited funds and lack of government funding, the Academy had decided to raise the delegate fees to Rs 2,000. The festival this year is a low-key event, sans any cultural performances, unlike previous years.
(With inputs from agencies.)