The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) opened here on Sunday amid much fanfare as it returned to a fully physical format, after going hybrid for the last two editions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 53rd IFFI, conducted jointly by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), kicked off with a grand ceremony at the jam-packed Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium.
Keeping with the spirit of Freedom Ka Amrut Mahotsav celebrations, the theme of the opening ceremony was “Evolution of Indian Cinema in the last 100 years”.
The event was attended by the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister of State (MoS) for I&B L. Murugan, Goa Governor PS Sreedharan and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, as well as many Indian and international film personalities.
Mr. Thakur said his vision was to make India the most sought-after destination for film shoots and post-production backed by local talent and innovation of industry leaders.
“My vision for the IFFI is not limited to one event, but what the IFFI should be when India celebrates its 100th year of Independence once we transition from the Amrit Mahotsav to the Amrit Kaal. We aim to make India a powerhouse of content creation, especially regional cinema by scaling up regional festivals,” he said.
The IFFI will showcase a collection of 280 films from 79 countries. Twenty-five features and 20 non-feature films will be showcased at the Indian Panorama section, from a broad spectrum of entries.
At the ceremony hosted by Aparshakti Khurrana, actors Manoj Bajpayee, Suniel Shetty, Ajay Devgn, Paresh Rawal and veteran writer V. Vijayendra Prasad were felicitated with special honour, while legendary Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura was given the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award,
Mr. Saura, known for directing classics “Mama-Cumple Cien Anos” and “Carmen”, gave the ceremony a miss due to health reasons and his daughter Anna Saura accepted the award on his behalf.
“I am still recovering from bronchitis. I hope to fully recover soon. But, as of today, I cannot travel. I want to thank you all and the IFFI for the honour,” the 90-year-old filmmaker said in a video messages.
During the event, the I&B minister declared megastar Chiranjeevi the `Film Personality of the Year’. The Telugu film veteran was last seen in the blockbuster hit “Godfather”.
Mr. Thakur also welcomed a delegation from France, which is the `Country of Focus’ at this edition of the IFFI.
“Continuing the spirit of India’s ‘Country of Honour’ at the Marche De Films at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, I am delighted to welcome France as the ‘Country of Focus’ at the 53rd edition of IFFI,” he said.
The 53rd IFFI, MoS Mr. Murugan said, was the festival’s comeback to its vibrant avatar after the pandemic.
“Our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has described the IFFI as the film festival which promotes synergy between delegates from different nations and societies, united by cinema. IFFI-53 has everything that a movie lover wants— 75 Creative Young Minds, masterclasses, box office flavour, film bazaar, and global cinema,” he said.
The opening night saw electrifying performances by Hindi film stars Varun Dhawan, Sara Ali Khan, Kartik Aaryan and Mrunal Thakur.
Mr. Dhawan, who is awaiting the release of his horror comedy “Bhediya”, delivered an energetic act on songs “Teri Mitti”, “Vande Mataram”, “Hindustani” and his popular dance numbers “Thumkeshwari”, “Nach Punjaban” and “Jungle”. Mein Kaand”.
Ms. Khan danced on some classic Hindi songs such as “Inn Aankhon ki Masti”, “Salaam-e-Ishq Meri Jaan”, “Maar Dala” and “Ghoomar”, while “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2” star Aaryan performed on his popular tracks — “Kaala Jaadu”, “Bom Diggy Diggy” and “Dil Chori”, among others.
New venue for IFFI
On the occasion, Mr. Pramod Sawant said the setting up of a world-class multiplex and convention center in the State was in its final stage and hopefully the IFFI, would have a new permanent venue by 2025.
He said this year at the IFFI, the State government had taken an initiative to curate special masterclasses for the Goan film fraternity in which renowned film personalities from the Hindi and Marathi film sections would participate.
“A Goan section has also been specially curated for this year. A special jury comprising three jury members from the Indian Panorama has selected six short films and one documentary film. We have been able to draw the attention of tourists and Goan public through various peripheral activities such as festival mile, entertainment zone and heritage parade,” Mr. Sawant said.
With an intention to make the event more inclusive, the special movie screening for Divyangs (specially-abled) will be organized during the festival, he said. Mr. Sawant also remembered former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for his efforts to make Goa the permanent venue for the IFFI.
Actors Amruta Khanvilkar and Catherine Teresa also performed at the event.
The opening film for this year’s IFFI was Austrian director Dieter Berner’s feature “Alma and Oskar”.
The biographical drama focuses on the passionate and tumultuous relationship between the Viennese society Grand Dame Alma Mahler (1879–1964) and Austrain artist Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980).
The nine-day festival will also see gala premieres of Mr. Rawal’s “The Storyteller”, Mr. Devgn and Ms. Tabu’s “Drishyam 2”, Dhawan and Ms. Kriti Sanon’s “Bhediya” and Ms. Yami Gautam’s “Lost”.
The upcoming Telugu film “Raymo”, Ms. Deepti Naval and Ms. Kalki Koechlin’s “Goldfish” and Mr. Randeep Hooda and Ms. Ileana D’Cruz’s “Tera Kya Hoga Lovely” will also be premiered at the IFFI, along with an episode of upcoming OTT shows such as “Vadhandhi – The Fable of Velonie”, “Khakee: The Bihar Chapter” and “Fauda” Season Four .
“IFFI-53 has everything that a movie lover wants—75 Creative Young Minds, masterclasses, box office flavour, film bazaar, and global cinema”Anurag ThakurUnion Minister for Information and Broadcasting