Strictly speaking, the 12th Kolkata Film Festival was not an international event, for it was not allowed the ‘international film festival’ tag by the central government. There appears a conflict here.
The I&B ministry at the center has its own international film festival, the IFFI (International Film Festival of India), which it organizes mostly in Delhi and Goa, occasionally rotating it at other cities. Since the ministry apparently feels there cannot be a second international film festival in India, it has peeved the culture-minded film-loving Bengalis, and rightly so, and hence an international film fest in Kolkata every year.
This has meant that Kolkata Film Festival (let’s call it KFF) – though recognized way back in 1997 by FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations, Paris), the international authority of film festivals (it recognizes IFFI too) – is shunned from being officially known as an international film fest.
That doesn’t mean the fest wasn’t a success. In fact judging by footfalls and collections, KFF was resoundingly successful. However, for all its fair share of bricks and bouquets, many film-lovers opine that ‘international’ tag or not, KFF usually presents an image of chaos and lack of planning.
This is succinctly brought out when the cops had to intervene to prevent trouble at New Empire where Sex and Philosophy by Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf was to be screened. The organizers should have known why some films invite rowdyism so as to take necessary steps to prevent such crassness.
The rush to see Sex and Philosophy was more on account of expectations to see erotic scenes, as the lack of it in the film made a good amount of crowd – fed with titillating flesh-showing Hindi films – utter with disgust, “Dhut, shudhu philosophy, no sex.”
Here then are some high points at the fest:
- There were 225 films from 53 countries shown at 9 venues.
- Gate collection has been Rs.11 lakhs, Rs.2 lakhs more than last year. Total audience totaled 2.2 lakhs, impressive by any yardstick.
- There was no thali girl at the inauguration as it dawned on the organizers that such a practice has no parallel in any film fest anywhere.
- Neither was any central minister invited to inaugurate, because as mentioned above, shorn of ‘international’ tag and monetary help, there was no reason why it should be so.
- Film sale in CDs/DVDs was poor. And so, film business on the sidelines of the fest was lukewarm at best (when would the organizers wake up?).