Event skips timeline, may be shelved

A spat between veteran actor Raveendran, director of the premiere edition of the Kochi International Film Festival (KIFF) held in December 2012, and the district administration is holding up the conduct of what was originally conceived as an annual affair. With the latest edition skipping its plausible timeline, District Collector Sheikh Pareed in December said last year’s edition would be conducted in January, 2014. However, it now appears that the festival is unlikely to take place anytime soon and may well have been shelved, leaving behind an unenviable legacy of having been chaotic and amateurish the only time it was held.

While the district administration joined hands with various film societies in the city and the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) to organise the debut festival, the ball has not been set rolling for the already delayed second edition, with those in the organising committee remaining clueless about the district administration’s plans.

M. Gopinathan of Metro Film Society said the district administration was dragging its feet on the festival. “There wasn’t even a meeting convened to discuss its conduct. As things stand now, it seems the fest is long over.” T.N. Jayasankar, DTPC secretary, said his organisation was not directly involved in the conduct of the festival. Besides collaborating with the district authorities in screening an international film every weekend at Children’s Park for some time now, the DTPC was in the dark about the next edition of the film festival, he said.

Mr. Raveendran himself thinks that at best, it would now be held in the last quarter of 2014, giving the current edition a miss. He told The Hindu over the telephone that cold-shouldering of the festival by the district administration had forced him to take up marketing responsibility of the just-concluded International Film festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Thiruvananthapuram, which the Kochi festival should’ve coincided with.

“There was no decision on its conduct, which was why I took up the IFFK responsibility.”

Mr. Raveendran, who last year petitioned Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanding his intervention for release of outstanding payments to makers of films shown at the KIFF and as part of the weekend screenings at the Children’s Park, said the fest was his project and a trust under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister was to be formed for its regular conduct.

Since the trust did not come into being on time, the district administration, which was to have an administrative role originally, played a larger part and came to be identified with the festival, he said. Mr. Raveendran said he would try his level best to revive the festival and conduct it in a proper manner.

A film personality, who refused to be named, said the conduct of the fest should be vested with people associated with films. “What do bureaucrats know about films?” he asked.

When contacted by The Hindu, Mr. Pareed said the festival would be held in March. He said a committee, with a new personality at the helm, would organise it. “There’s no payment pending from the first edition but unfortunately, some people are using the media to level allegations,” he said.

With the Lok Sabha polls around the corner, March would be an unlikely time to hold the fest, said the film personality.