The Cinema Travellers

India is home to several international film festivals that are held at some of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, blending creative dialogue with the bliss of travel. Faizal Khan draws up a list of fests you should attend in the next few months

Every November, the promenade running along the majestic Mandovi river in Goa’s

capital Panaji brims with people from around the world. Most of them are movie lovers trooping between theatres hosting the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held there. When they are not watching films, the festival delegates are seen at Goa’s beaches, savouring the sun, sand and sea. India, one of the world’s largest film-producing nations, has many major film festivals spread across the country. These events, which salute the spirit of creativity, also trigger the bliss of travel. While they promote films and initiate creative dialogue, these film festivals also encourage travellers to come and explore the destination they are being held in.

Kolkata International Film Festival, November 10-17, 2018

The Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) is the oldest film festival to be held in India, after the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The festival, which began in 1995, traces its origins to the film society movement in the country spearheaded by legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Ray was the brain behind Nandan, the West Bengal government-backed culture hub in Kolkata. Inspired by masters of Bengali cinema such as Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak, KIFF has risen to become one of the most prominent film events in Asia. There are competition sections for Indian feature, documentary and short films, and international cinema. Two years ago, the festival launched a new competition section called ‘Innovation in Moving Images’, for experimental films. The festival also gives away an award for the Best Asian Film.

Venue: Nandan complex, Kolkata

Pondicherry International Film Festival, September 26-30, 2018

The youngest film festival in India, the Pondicherry International Film Festival (PIFF) will launch its first edition in September this year with a focus on independent films. The festival will be held at three venues in the coastal town renowned for Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its quaint French neighbourhoods. “Pondicherry [Puducherry] combines Tamil and French culture and is the perfect place for an international film festival,” says PIFF director Saibal Chatterjee. The festival will promote, as Chatterjee explains, “super independent cinema of filmmakers who produce their own films”. As a popular tourist destination, Pondicherry (Puducherry) receives a steady stream of visitors throughout the year. The festival is certain to bring in many more. If you are planning to attend, don’t miss the competition section for short films and a showcase of films by contemporary French women directors. A retrospective of celebrated Tamil director Mani Ratnam will be
another highlight.

Venues: Satyam Cinema, Alliance Francaise, Auroville and Gandhi Chowk (which will hold open-air screenings)

International Film Festival of India, Goa, November 20-28, 2018

Once a festival rooted in New Delhi, and occasionally travelling to other Indian cities, IFFI found a permanent home in Goa in 2004. Goa’s status as a major tourism destination helped in the decision to model India’s oldest and most important film festival on the lines of Festival de Cannes or the Cannes film festival, which is organised in the popular coastal town in southern France. Founded in 1952, IFFI screens more than 300 films from across 100 countries over nine days. Around 3,000 delegates attended the festival last year. The festival’s top award for best film, the Golden Peacock, is a coveted honour, carrying a cash prize of `40 lakh.

Venue: Kala Academy, INOX, Panaji

Mumbai Film Festival, October 25 – November 1, 2018

In its 20th edition this year, the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival has emerged as an important event on the global film calendar, attracting well known filmmakers and actors from across the globe. Held in the land of Bollywood, the festival has several sections to highlight Indian cinema. ‘India Gold’ is a competition category for contemporary Indian cinema; while other India-centric sections include ‘India Story’, celebrating the diversity of India, and ‘Discovering India’, highlighting globalisation of content. There is a ‘Marathi Talkies’ section for new filmmakers telling unique stories, and ‘Dimensions Mumbai’ for short films made by filmmakers from the host city. The festival’s top honour, for the Best Film, carrying a reward of `25 lakh, is named after the Gateway of India. It is called the Golden Gateway Award.

Venues: PVR Cinemas – Infinity Mall, Juhu, Thane, CitiMall, Lower Parel, Kurla, and Regal Cinema – Colaba

International Film Festival of  Kerala, December 7-14, 2018

Filmmakers from around the world vie for a screening at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK). Every seat is filled for each show at all the venues of the festival, spread across Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram. Filmmakers such as South Korean director Kim Ki-duk and the Palme d’Or-winning director from Thailand Apichatpong Weerasethakul have participated in IFFK, which will hold its 22nd edition this year. The festival has a competition section for Asian, African and Latin American movies. The Golden Crow Pheasant Award for the best film carries a cash prize of `15 lakh.

Venue: Tagore Theatre, Kanakakunnu Palace, Kairali, Sree, Nila

The author is a senior film journalist and the views expressed in the article are his own

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