Talking to techies who’ve taken a week-long leave of absence from work just to attend the IFFK

They’re just like the rest of us, it seems, when it comes to the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), more than happy to take a sabbatical from their hectic work schedules just to watch the best of world cinema. The annual film fete, organised by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, has always had many takers among techies in the city. Considering the popularity of short film fetes at Technopark and the sheer number of techies involved in amateur/professional filmmaking, it’s no surprise that a fair number of them turn up for screenings throughout the eight days of the fete, whenever time and work schedules permit, of course.

It then shouldn’t come as a surprise to note that among techies too there are quite a few die-hard IFFK fans; techies who actually take a leave of absence from work for the duration of the fete! To these techies IFFK is “more than a mere fete, but a pilgrimage” that they just have to undertake.

Take Sudhish Radhakrishnan, who works in corporate communications at a multi-national company in Technopark, for example. Sudhish may just top the list of IFFK-mad techies by the way he waxes lyrical his “passion for world cinema”. He’s been a regular at IFFK for the past five years and watches some 25 films during the course of each fete! “Knowing that the IFFK will be held (usually) in the second week of December, I book my leave almost a year in advance. IFFK is not just an opportunity to watch back-to-back movies, it’s also an opportunity to meet up with my friends and college-mates (from CUSAT, Kochi) who’ve come down to the city from different places across the State and even as far as Bangalore and Hyderabad, especially for the festival. It’s a full on celebration,” adds Sudhish.

His colleague Nezin Sreekumar, a veteran of three IFFKs, agrees. “I’m drawn to it for the culturally rich ambience – watching movies with hundreds of like-minded people, poets, students, filmmakers, film professionals, musicians, and so on, all revelling in their mutual love for the movies,” says Nezin, who is also on leave for the week.

Subin P., who works at IBS, is another techie who has a “passion for meaningful world cinema”. The techie, who’s also the president of Natana, Technopark’s cultural club, is usually “on vacation at IFFK”. He has been a regular at the fete for some five years now and manages to catch at least 16 films during its course. “After watching so many films from places and cultures as far apart as Korea and Chile, I’ve come to realise that people are the same the world over.”

Jagannathan G., a native of Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu, who is employed at a multi-national company in Technopark, meanwhile, is a veteran of six IFFKs. “Growing up in Rajapalayam, I’ve always had a passion for movies. But I did not get an opportunity to watch too much of world cinema until my first IFFK in 2007. Since then I’ve become a fan and watch four movies a day.”

Now techies being techies they just have to voice their opinions about the fete with the latest technology. While Sudhish updates his Facebook page with his impressions on each day’s events at the festival, amusing incidents, interesting discussions, instant photos from the venue and review of films, Jagannathan does the same on his blog. “It’s for my friends who were not able to attend the fete,” says Sudhish.

All the techies seem unanimous in their praise for this year’s IFFK. “It’s much more organised than the previous years. From collecting passes to the online reservation system, and save for a few unwarranted schedule changes, it’s actually been quite hassle-free,” says Subin, whose top picks among the 150-odd films screened this year were Kim Ki Duk’s Pieta and Michael Haneke’s Palme D’Or-winning French drama Amour among world cinema, and Nos Vamos Papa and Filmistaan, among the competition films. Jagannathan, who “watched all the key movies” liked Pieta the best “and not because it was made by my favourite director.” Sudhish and Nezin meanwhile, say they were “not impressed by most of the competition films. The much-hyped French cinema package too was a letdown. This time around Malayalam films, especially Chayilyam (directed by Manoj Kana), were the stars.” And yes, the techies are already looking forward to IFFK 2013.