Rare glimpses of world cinema at Kolkata film fest

From the very prestigious fold of the ongoing 18th Kolkata International Film Festival, a veritable package of world-cinema will be screened by the age-old cultural body of Cine Central, Calcutta, during the seven-day long annual film carnival — International Forum of New Cinema (IFNC).
The significance of IFNC lies in its attempt to view, share, discuss, feature, highlight and promote alternate cinema dealing with offbeat projects and experimental genres. “Right from the word go, we were meticulous about selecting an eclectic section of films that would be deemed as signature creations of a group of young, emerging debutante filmmakers whose impeccable aim would be to reel reality and social unrest within their message-driven flicks. Till date, we are flooded with a bulk of 80-90 entrants from a host of 27 countries which need further shortlisting. Even today, a nation has eagerly sent in its application to participate in the esteemed fest. The response is overly encouraging and satisfactory,” elucidated Parimal Mukherjee, general secretary, Cine Central, Calcutta, in a recent press briefing.
Sadly enough, due to limited infrastructure, only a slew of 46-47 movies can be showcased during the span of festival which is scheduled to end on November 18, a day after the KFF draws its curtains. The discreet cineastes will get to watch all the films at the City of Joy’s Metro theatres on Chowringhee Road, which has a seat-capacity of 1,000, mostly to be occupied by film delegates, organisation members, media persons, students of film studies’ courses and avid cine-goers.
While National-Award winning Kannada film Kurmavatara by eminent director Girish Kasaravalli from the Indian contingent will be the inaugural film at the fest, Amitabh Chakraborty’s Bengali movie Cosmic Sex will close the gala week-long party. Both the makers will be present at the venue to grace the event. To the uninitiated, the leading actress Rii (of director Q’s, aka Qaushiq Mukherjee, radical movies Gandu and Tasher Desh fame) of Cosmic Sex had won an award for her excellent performance in the flick which got screened at the popular Cinefan Osian movie-fest in the competitive category, only last year
Another Bengali movie Anchal shot by Bikramjit Gupta will be shown. One More, a Hindi flick by director Shivajee Chandrabhushan (of Frozen fame starring veteran Hindi film actor Danny Denzongpa) will surely be an eye-catcher. Set at the backdrop of Ladakh, the film is based on the game of ice-hockey played in the snow-capped slopes of lofty Indian Himalayas and its struggling players who slog it out to catapult their local amateur ice hockey team to try and qualify for a tournament abroad. Another Hindi language movie is helmer Sudipto Chattopadhyaya’s Shobhana’s Seven Nights starring actors Ravina Tandon, Rohit Roy and newcomer Amit Purohit in lead roles.
The entire festival will be divided into interesting segments like panorama of world cinema, retrospective, film focus, highlights, glimpses, classics and so on.
In the spotlight category this year, seven films from Peru and four from Hungary will be unfurled. Whereas in the film focus bracket, Danish, Chinese and Cuban movies will be unveiled. Denmark’s Lars Von Trier will be a much sought-after personality this time as his overtly controversial movie Antichrist (2009) will scoop up a smoke of curiosity amongst the inquisitive cinephiles.
While another Danish select Submarino by Thomas Vinterberg was already awarded at the Berlin movie-fest. If French, Iranian and Dutch cinema are showcased in the glimpses section, flicks from Switzerland and Mexico will be screened in the highlight classification. In the very important classic section, four ventures from Poland filmed in the late 1950s and early 60s will claim the marquee.
A Screaming Man by Mahamat Saleh Haroun is an interesting choice since it is a joint production by two different countries — Chad and France respectively. A large contingent of French cinema consisting of six crucial flicks will make a dominating presence on the platform of IFNC.
The interesting point is that the authorities apprise of bagging a 35 mm print of the film House of Tolerance which had released in 2011. “It is not easy to get one as the cost is too exorbitant. One has to cough up `30,000 for the prints for this particular format. As a result, today’s motion pictures increasingly witness the shrinkage of celluloid projection and more and more films opt for the conversion to digital space with DCP formats, HD, Blu-Ray and DVD technology sweeping the markets.
In fact, the 18th KFF will induce a rare bonding of both the silent-era classics of yesteryears with new-age contemporary cinema. “The silent films will recreate that old-word charm of erstwhile bioscope inside a tent where it will be showcased with a live background orchestra played along with it, as it used to be the norm in those black-n-white days,” reasoned Sajal Dutta, joint secretary, Cine Central.
Inside sources reveal that the festival organisers had to say no to at least four directors this time. “It’s not possible to afford and accommodate an entire entourage of guests from the visiting nations, willing to queue up at the festival hub, as that would be grossly expensive. Hence, we had to politely decline many proposals with the assurance that in the ensuing years, they would definitely find a place on the carnival calendar. In that case, only acquiring their movie-prints would incur nothing more than the import fee of air-fares. But now a concerned country’s film-agents demand a huge screening fee per film in US dollars and Euros which is gradually becoming an encumbrance on our shoulders. See, the primary motive of the festival is to focus an array of quality films rather than selling quantity,” he argued.
In the retrospective segment, one can look out for the five great films by world-renowned Hongkong helmer, Wang-Kar Wai. “Wai is a noted name in the film world and adds some grace with his endeavours to any landmark film fest, conducted on a universal level. So we are indeed proud and happy to incorporate a part of his illustrious repertoire with five incredible glorious gems which have already been toasted at several film-fests to reckon with,” commented Dutta. Wai’s notable films — In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Chunking Express, Fallen Angels and Days of Being Wild — will be screened at the venue.
Noticeably, if the cash-strapped state government has managed to rake in crores to organise a global film festival in its capital, then it’s no wonder that the “international forum of new cinema”, nestled under its banner will too get a chance to suck a bit of its nectar. “Our budget was estimated to the tune of 15 lakhs for this festival. On top of that, we have obtained necessary financial aid from the state government and the supporting grant tantamounts to `6 lakhs. The rest nine is funded by a coterie of advertisers, sponsors’ donations, our cine-club’s internal revenue, et al,” summed up Dutta.

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