IFFI Spotlight 2021: Film screenings galore and masterclass ruled day 5 of the film fest

Debutant director Pradeep Kalipurayath and producer Dr. K. Shaji, while addressing a press conference on January 19, at the 51st Edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), spoke about how social media can be used to keep our loved ones safe. The concept of the film, Safe, that tackles the issue of women safety, was penned by Shaji, revealed Kalipurayath. “Producer Dr K. Shaji has three daughters and he wanted to see how he can make them feel secure. He came up with this idea so that it can be effectively passed on to the people who can come up with some solutions. We chose film as the medium to do this job,” he said.

“The film is our attempt in trying to drive a very simple concept of preventing an adverse incident before it happens. We chose a film that will portray this. The film addresses the larger concept of womanhood, not limiting to feminism. The characters in the film stand by each other,” said Kalipurayath.

The movie has won the Kalabhavan Mani Memorial Award for the best socially relevant film.

IFFI Spotlight 2021: Film screenings galore and masterclass ruled day 5 of the film fest

Quashing OTT fears

On January 20, 2021, Day 5 of the fest, saw a virtual ‘In Conversation’ session with Malayalam film industry producer and distributor, G P Vijayakumar, who quashed popular fears of the OTT platforms “ending theatrical releases and shutting movie businesses”. The traditional film industry, theatres and blockbuster movies “will continue to stay despite OTT and TV channels being around,” insisted Vijayakumar while speaking on ‘Changing Scenarios in Indian Film Production’. During the session, the film producer spoke extensively of the role of the OTT platforms in the film industry today. “OTT is here to stay,” particularly post the COVID-19 crisis, and OTT has become the “basic carrier of films” for the producer to earn any revenue. Vijayakumar also talked about how OTT had faced resistance in the initial days as stakeholders were worried it will jeopardise the film industry by impacting the theatrical release of films. He further added that despite the inroads made by television, and the increasing viewership on OTT, there will be ample space for theatres, added that OTT has enabled the release of small budget films.

Homage and homecoming

On Day 5, several films were screened at various IFFI venues across Panjim, Goa. Of relevance was Raja Nawathe’s 1956 film Basant Bahar, screened to pay homage to Nimmi and Kumkum for their contribution to Indian cinema. The screening as attended by Kumkum’s son, Hadi Ali Abrar. Also screened was Land of Gods (Devbhoomi) by Serbian film-maker, Goran Paskaljević, where Victor Banerjee plays the role of a man returning to his village in the Himalayas after 40 years absence. This was followed by Siddik Paravoor Thahira. Present for the screening was director Siddik Paravoor, producer Sunil MT and the cast and crew of the film.

Late actor Kumkum’s son, Hadi Ali Abrar
Late actor Kumkum’s son, Hadi Ali Abrar

Freedom is the price for development

The documentary, Acasa, My Home, was lauded by critics and film buffs alike. It documents the journey of the Enache family — parents with nine children — living in the Bucharest’s Delta for two decades. The family lives a simple life isolated from society, but suddenly finds it impossible to escape social services and are forced to move to the city and learn to conform to the rules of society.

Producer and director, Radu Ciorniciuc
Producer and director, Radu Ciorniciuc

It was in 2012 that producer and director, Radu Ciorniciuc, co-founded the first independent media organisation in Romania — Casa Jurnalistului, a community of reporters specialised in in-depth, long-form and multimedia reporting. It was in 2016, that Ciorniciuc met the Enache family when he heard that the Romanian government was preparing to give high environmental protection status to one of the largest green areas in Bucharest, which had been an abandoned landfill for the last 25 years. Because it wasn’t accessible to visitors, nature had taken over and had converted it into a rich urban ecosystem. Ciorniciuc went there to film the family with partner and screenwriter of the film, Lina Vdovii. It took him four years to finish the film and after the authorities signed the protection agreement, Romanian bureaucracy took over. They took two more years to finally appoint an administrator for the park and the family was “allowed” to live there through the period. The crew spent almost half of the four filming years with them in Văcărești.

The film wants to drive home the point that humans, regardless of their backgrounds, should be free to live however they choose to, but they should also have equal access to all opportunities in life.

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