As the nation and the world strive to brave the Himalayan odds wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resolve and resilience of our shared humanity have enabled us to find wellsprings of hope amidst the winter of despair, to keep up the ceaseless pursuit of a better present and future for ourselves and our posterity. The 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India, a skillfully curated collection of the best of Indian and world cinema, got off to a colourful start with a star-studded and artistically inspiring opening ceremony, at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, in Panaji, Goa today, November 20, 2021.
The opening ceremony saw the graceful presence of Governor of Goa Shri P S Sreedharan Pillai; Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur; Chief Minister of Goa, Dr. Pramod Sawant; and Union Minister of State, Information and Broadcasting, Shri L. Murugan. The galaxy of stars who infused creative vibrancy and artistic splendour to the opening ceremony included towering personalities of Indian cinema including Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ritesh Deshmukh, Genelia Deshmukh and Shraddha Kapoor, amongst others.
Istevan Szabo and Martin Scorsese receive Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award
On this occasion, Hungarian film director Istevan Szabo and American film director, producer, screenwriter and actor Martin Scorsese, two giants of international cinema, have been conferred the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award for their excellence in international cinema.
Conveying his acceptance through a video message, Istvan Szabo said, “I am deeply moved to realize the fact that Indians know my films and some of them even love it.”
Expressing his gratitude for being presented with the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award, Istvan Szabo reminisced about his meeting with the legendary Satyajit Ray, which took place more than 30 years ago in the then Madras. “Ray invited me and my wife for dinner, which was excellent. We had a fantastic discussion on his films and film-making, our profession. It was a profound discussion that I will never forget.”
Istvan Szabo is one of the most critically acclaimed Hungarian film directors of the past few decades known for masterpieces like Mephisto (1981) and Father (1966).
Martin Scorsese is one of the major figures of the New Hollywood era, widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential directors in film history.
Conveying his acceptance through a video message, the icon of international cinema said, “I am honored to receive such an award named after one of the truly great filmmakers of all time and my inspiration, Satyajit Ray. I have returned to Ray’s work over and over again and every time I watch his movies, it becomes a whole new experience. Watching Pather Panchali was a revelatory experience for me and it opened a whole new world for me.”
Remembering how intimacy, immediacy, tenderness and sensuality played crucial roles in Ray’s films, the filmmaker revealed that the music of Ray’s films inspired him in the making of the music of his own films. “I showed Pather Panchali to my daughter at a young age, it has made a great impact on how she perceives the world and other cultures around the world.”
Hema Malini receives Indian Film Personality of the Year Award 2021
In yet another highlight, celebrated actor and two-time Member of Parliament Hema Malini has been presented the Indian Film Personality of the Year Award 2021.
Receiving the award, the actor who has enthralled generations of film lovers across wide sections of society, thanked the festival for bestowing her with such a prestigious award. “I am very happy to receive the Indian Film Personality of the Year Award 2021.”
The veteran actor complimented IFFI for recognizing young and budding cinematic talent, through the “75 Creative Minds of Tomorrow” competition. “IFFI is doing a great job in encouraging our creative youngsters through this international platform.”
Acclaimed lyricist and chairperson, CBFC, Prasoon Joshi, who also has been conferred the Indian Film Personality of the Year Award 2021 will be presented the award at the closing ceremony of the festival, on November 28, 2021.
IFFI Announces and Felicitates 75 Budding “Creative Young Minds of Tomorrow”
As the country celebrates the 75th year of our hard-earned freedom, with the fervour of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav diffusing across the length and breadth of the country, 75 young aspiring film makers have been handpicked from across the country to attend IFFI as special guests. The names of the winners have been announced at the opening ceremony today.
The 75 youngsters comprising 7 female and 68 male artists, all below 35 years of age, have been chosen based on their exquisite skills in different fields of film making including direction, editing, singing and screenplay, among others. The youngsters have been invited as special guests at the 52nd IFFI, providing them a great platform to explore their creativity.
Speaking about the novel initiative, the I&B Minister Shri Anurag Thakur said: “For the first time ever, we are recognizing and mentoring promising 75 young minds, as we celebrate 75 years of India’s independence. They have been chosen by the grand jury and selection jury after a meticulous selection process.”
The Minister informed that the youngest candidate is just sixteen years old, Aryan Khan from Bihar who has been chosen for his skills in Film Direction.
Speaking about his brainchild, the Union I&B Minister Shri Anurag Singh Thakur said: “In a unique initiative, we are recognizing and mentoring young talent through “75 young Creative Minds of Tomorrow” competition to mark India’s 75th year of Independence ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. For the first time in history, IFFI is giving a platform for young aspiring filmmakers from across India to engage with prominent filmmakers and the industry. The artists will get to attend IFFI and interact with experts in the industry in person and via Masterclasses and engage with the film fraternity.”
Congratulating the 75 young creative artists who have been selected by an eminent jury of film personalities, the Minister explained that the Government’s purpose behind the initiative is to provide these filmmakers, actors, singers, scriptwriters, and others a platform to showcase their creativity at a world-renowned event.
International and Indian Panorama Jury Members Felicitated
The international Jury for 52nd IFFI led by Jury Chairperson, Iranian film maker Rakhshān Banietemad and other members including film producer and director Stephen Woolley, film makers Ciro Guerra, Vimukthi Jayasundara and Nila Madhab Panda were felicitated during the ceremony.
Apart from this, the ceremony also witnessed the introduction of the Jury of Indian Panorama and BRICS Film festival, which will be held alongside IFFI 52, through a picture collage on stage.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Governor of Goa Shri P.S. Sreedharan Pillai spoke about the divine provenance and significance of art, and its immense power in reconnecting us with our roots. “Art is similar to God according to our ancient ethos. As per our ancient texts, the words of an artist are equivalent to those of the Divine. Art can play a great role in nurturing and preserving the unity, integrity and sovereignty of our country.” The Governor requested artist and film makers to do more on this count, which he says is the need of the hour.
Come and be a part of India’s ‘Cinematic Kaleidoscope’ of ‘Collaborative diversity’: Union I&B Minister
Addressing film lovers, Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur extended a passionate invitation to all film makers in India and across the world, to come and be a part of the cinematic kaleidoscope of collaborative diversity of the world’s largest democracy. “The India story is being written and defined by Indians. Our message to all film makers is this – come be a part of India’s ‘Cinematic Kaleidoscope’ of ‘Collaborative diversity’, that is set to take new strides as the voice of a rising, aspirational billion, gears up to lead and take centre-stage in this decade and beyond”.
“Government aims to make India the hub for world cinema, the place of choice for filmmakers and film lovers”
The I&B Minister expressed the government’s steadfast commitment to make India a content creation powerhouse and the post-production hub of the world. “We aim to make India a powerhouse of content creation, especially regional by scaling up regional festivals. We are also steadfast in our efforts to make India the post production hub of the world, by leveraging the immense tech talent amongst our skilled youth. We aim to make India the hub for world cinema – a destination for films and festivals and the most favoured place for film makers and lovers!”
The Minister also outlined the government’s progressive and ambitious vision for IFFI. “Our government’s vision for IFFI is not limited to one event, but what IFFI should be when India celebrates its 100th year of Independence.”
Welcoming film lovers to Goa which he recalled is celebrating its 60th year of independence, while the nation celebrates the 75th year of independence, the Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur said that Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an opportunity for us to take a collective resolve to take the nation to new heights when we celebrate 100 years of our freedom. “This presents a unique opportunity for Indian cinema and incredible possibilities in content creation and dissemination at all levels on all platforms, in all regional languages, domestically as well as globally.”
The Minister informed that with this perspective in mind, IFFI 52 has brought together a diverse bouquet of films and filmmakers from around the world. “There are many firsts at IFFI. For the first time ever, IFFI has allowed OTT platforms to come and showcase and present what they have produced in the past few years.”
The Minister informed that IFFI is embracing new technology and giving a platform to artists and industry to engage with each other, keeping up with the pace of change.
Welcoming the delegates and guests to 52nd IFFI, Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Pramod Sawant recalled former Union Defence Minister Late Dr. Manohar Parrikar, who as Chief Minister of Goa, hosted IFFI in Goa for the first time, following which for the last 17 years, IFFI is being hosted in the beach city. “To promote film shooting in the tourism state, we are giving single window clearance for enhancing film shooting in the state.” The Chief Minister congratulated the Prime Minister for showing the world that the nation is capable of vaccinating hundreds of crores of people at a fast pace. The CM said that in line with the goal of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat, Goa aims to achieve self-reliance in the field of film and entertainment, with the support of the union government.
Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Dr. L Murugan said that IFFI allows the understanding of various social and cultural ethos and appreciation of world cinema. “Our actors bring alive legendary heroes and great events in the past.”
The Minister said that under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India aims to become the attractive destination for filmmaking. “We have opened Film Facilitation Office, as a single point of contact to facilitate filmmakers.”
Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Shri Apurva Chandra said that IFFI is the largest and best film festival of the country with a rich legacy of more than 50 years. “IFFI is a celebration of good films from India and all across the world at one location in a festival of nine days.”
The Secretary explained that the festival has become bigger, despite the COVID-19 challenge. “Even though we are celebrating in hybrid mode, the film festival has become larger than any. We received 624 entries from 96 countries despite COVID-19, in comparison to 69 countries last year. 44 films from 18 different languages of India are being showcased at the Indian Panorama section, including a film in Dimasa language, which is not even in the 8th Schedule of the constitution. There are 12 world premieres, 7 international premieres and 64 national premieres, which shows that the love for IFFI is growing year on year. It shows that we have stood up to the challenge during these COVID times.“
Cinematic gems from BRICS nations to be featured as part of both BRICS Film Festival and Focus Country Sections
For the first time ever, films from five BRICS nations, namely Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and of course India will be showcased through the BRICS Film Festival alongside IFFI. Further, as opposed to the precedent of a Country in Focus, the five BRICS countries are all focus countries at IFFI 52, allowing film lovers to be inspired by the cinematic excellence and contributions of all five countries.
Asia’s oldest and largest film festival has kept up its progressive evolution and adaptation with the changing contours of technology, society, culture and the age-old and new-age opportunities and challenges which beset humanity in the 21st century digital and connected age. The second edition of IFFI in the post-COVID era has seamlessly embraced modern technologies in order to adopt a hybrid format comprising on-ground and virtual / online film screenings, Masterclasses, In Conversation Sessions and other events. This has enabled physically separated audiences – both die-hard connoisseurs and occasional and aspiring film lovers across the world – to immerse themselves in the timeless celebration of cinema.
How? For the first time in the history of IFFI, all major OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Sony and others, are participating in the film festival through exclusive Masterclasses, content launches and previews, curated film package screenings, and various other on-ground and virtual events. The participation of OTT platforms will become a regular feature in future, as announced by the Union I&B Secretary at the opening ceremony today.
IFFI 52 to open with the international premiere of the Spanish musical ‘The King of all the World’ (El Rey de Todo El Mundo)
If music be the food of love, satiate your love of films with ‘The King of all the World’. Yes, the 52nd edition is set to open with the Spanish musical directed and written by Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura. The Mexico-Spain co-production is an artistic attempt to connect Spain and Mexico and recover the connection that existed between the two countries, by mixing music and dance in both new and modern versions. The opening ceremony introduced the film by playing the evocative film trailer.
During the event, the Union Minister also released a video on NFDC Film Bazar.
While extending vote of thanks, IFFI Festival Director, Shri Chaitanya Prasad thanked Union Minister Shri Anurag Thakur for inviting OTT platforms to participate in full force at IFFI. He urged all movie buffs to enjoy the ceaseless celebration of films and artistic extravaganza and immerse themselves in the spirit of cinema.
The Opening Ceremony was hosted jointly by celebrated filmmaker Karan Johar and anchor and actor Manish Paul. Besides the glittering presence of Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Ranveer Singh, a host of eminent film personalities including Siddharth Anand, Madhur Bhandarkar, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Manoj Bajpayee, Khusbu Sundar, Ravi Kottarakara, Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K added to the recognition and honour of the commencement ceremony.
Besides the glittering presence of Bollywood stars Salman Khan and Ranveer Singh, a host of eminent film personalities including Siddharth Anand, Madhur Bhandarkar, , Khusbu Sundar, Ravi Kottarakara among others added to the recognition and honour of the commencement ceremony.
IFFI will feature 148 films from about 73 countries in the International Section with about 12 world premieres, about 7 international premieres, 26 Asia premieres and about 64 India premieres. The festival received 624 films from 95 countries this time, up from 69 countries in the previous edition.
The Power of the Dog directed by Jane Campion, Winner of Best Director at Venice Film Festival is chosen as the Mid Fest Film.
Grand Prix Award winning movie of Director Asghar Farhadi, A Hero will close the festival.
The World Panorama Section of IFFI will showcase 55 cinematic gems across the world. 11 Films are selected for the Festival Kaleidoscope including movies such as Titane (French) and Souad (Arabic).
In Memory of the Greats
Every edition of International Film Festival of India pays a tribute to the stalwarts that the film industry lost. The Homage section of 52nd IFFI will showcase the films of Bertrand Tavernier, Christopher Plummer, Jean-Claude Carriere and Jean-Paul Belmondo as a homage to the veterans. IFFI will also pay Homage to Indian film stalwarts Buddhadeb Das Gupta (Director), Dilip Kumar (Actor), Nedumudi Venu (Actor), Puneeth Rajkumar (Actor), Sanchari Vijay (Actor), Sumitra Bhave (Director), Surekha Sikri (Actress) and Waman Bhonsle (Film Editor).
The festival will pay a Special Tribute to Sir Sean Connery, the first James Bond on the big screen.
Retrospective section in the 52nd IFFI will feature renowned Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr and Russian filmmaker and stage director Andrei Konchalovsky.
An auteur filmmaker, Bela Tarr has created his own visual style. His films also have won accolades at Berlin, Cannes and Locarno Film Festival.
Konchalovsky’s films have won numerous accolades, including the Cannes Grand Prix Spécial du Jury, a FIPRESCI Award, two Silver Lions, three Golden Eagle Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award.
The grand opening ceremony at the Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Stadium in Panaji also witnessed an array of cultural performances.