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The 36th annual International Film Festival of India takes off

The 36th annual International Film Festival of India (IFFI) – 2005 got of to a colourful start this afternoon (Thursday 24 November) with a huge carnival that included a seemingly endless parade of floats, cultural pageantry and other festivities.
The parade was the prelude to the inaugural film ‘Olga’, a Brazilian film directed by Jaime Monjardim, which chronicles the true story of the German revolutionary Olga Benario Prestes.
Olga is one of some 200 films from India and abroad that will be shown in about 300 screenings during the 10-day event, which is generally regarded as the country’s main film festival.
The festival is structured around eight main sections: Competition Section, Cinema of the World, Special Screenings, Retrospectives, Tribute, Homage, Master Classes and Indian Panorama.
The competition section this year has films from Africa and Latin America, as well as from Asia. Some 14 films from 13 countries are entered into the competition. Entries include Iqbal (India), Perumazhakkalam (India), Olga (Brazil), The Game Boys (Brazil); Innocent Steps (Korea), Avanin (Israel), Cachimba (Chile), Red Dust (South Africa); Iron Island (Iran) and Warm Spring (China).
The competition jury is headed by Chilean director Miguel Littin and includes Austrian director, Sabine Derflinger; Indian director Saeed Mirza; Iranian actor Faramarz Gharibian and French director Alain Corneau.
Cinema of the World includes 64 films drawn from 31 countries. Europe is the main source with 41 films and France is the single biggest supplier with nine films from directors Jacques Audiard, Michael Haneke, Arnaud Desplechin, Dominik Moll, Philippe Loiret, Regis Wargnier, Mike Leigh and Alain Corneau.
There will be special screenings of five new Indian films.
The retrospectives are of : French actress Isabelle Huppert whose six films will be screened; Swiss screenwriter, actress and director Ms. Lina Wertmuller with five films; Baden Wuertemberg (five films) and German student films (seven films). A retrospective on Iran will showcase seven films of noted Iranian directors.
The Festival is paying special tributes to Ismail Merchant and Sunil Dutt and also to Gemini Ganesh who passed away earlier this year. The Tribute Section will start with Merchant’s multi-award winning first directorial venture ‘In Custody’.
Other films in the Tribute section are ‘Heat & Dust’, ‘The Golden Bowl’, ‘Howard’s End’, ‘The Remains of the Day’ and ‘ A Room with a View’. In paying homage to the actor politician Sunil Dutt, the Festival will be screening ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’ a 1963 milestone movie. The festival will remember veteran Tamil actor Gemini Ganesh by screening his film ‘Parthiban Kanavu’.
Indian Panorama has 21 features and 16 non-feature films. The feature section opens with Daivanamathil directed by Jayaraj while the non-feature section opens with The Jaws of Death by Gautam Saikia.
With the aim of exposing the younger generation to the works of great Indian filmmakers of the past, the festival is introducing a special section called NFA Gold which will screen landmark films and films that have used music for their main theme.
Another special feature at this year’s festival is the Masters’ Class. Curated by filmmaker Vijay Singh, the section features master filmmakers who will hold interactive sessions on the “whys and hows” of their cinema. The masters include Shyam Benegal, Sudhir Mishra, Madhur Bhandarkar, Siomn Relph, Alain Corneau, and English actress Dolores Chaplin.
Belgium-France film ‘The Child’ directed by Jean Pierre and Luc Dardene will be the closing film for the Festival.
The Film Bazaar this year is expected to be made more effective and vibrant with the inclusion of countries that have co-production agreements with India. France, Italy and the United Kingdom are participating in a big way with their films and delegations.
The festival also has seminars, an open forum, beach screenings and meet-the- director programmes. And besides movie watching, delegates, tourist and local people will get to enjoy the festivities with a series of programmes featuring local artists.

By Jeremy Colson

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