In spite of negative aspects aplenty, the Kochi International Film Festival which concluded on Sunday, will be remembered for the good number of good films screened .
Apart from this, the Open Forum which drew a large number of participants on all days and the presence of the legendary filmmaker Makhmalbaf and family, who live and make films in exile, were the other significant factors which made the KIFF a successful one.
Selection of films
Compared to the Thiruvananthapuram International Film Festival (TIFF), which has grown into one of the best festivals in Asia, the number of good films screened at KIFF was larger. There was only one film at KIFF (‘Home’ a Thai film) which the spectators rated as bad.
The selection of films was really impressive. The organisers could procure plenty of new films which had won laurels at the recently held IIFK and TIFF, though the screening timings of some of the best films clashed.
The Open Forum was the other outstanding feature of KIFF. But its credit definitely goes to the participants who assembled in large numbers, much beyond the expectations of the organisers.
One of the comments heard at the venue was, “There are more participants in Open Forum than the spectators inside”.
The timing of the KIFF was just not right. It followed the IFFF held at Goa from November 20 to 30 and TIFF held at the State capital from December 7 to 14.
Most of the film fans who attended these two festivals could not attend KIFF which kicked off from December 16, the majority of them being working people.
The delegates who bought the pass paying Rs.300 criticised the organisers for not providing either the film book or the schedule in advance.
“How can we select the films to watch without a film book” said a famous radio jockey who had taken a week off to enjoy the film festival. She said, “At least a schedule should have been there with minimal details about the film. When I asked for it, the irresponsible officers say ‘It is all available on the net. Just go to Google and get it’ ”.
Rats in the theatres were another menace which made some delegates panic. Marian Dissanayake, a Sri Lankan fashion designer and model, left the festival halfway through after a rat scurried over her foot.
There were no volunteers to ensure that the screening went on smoothly. On a few occasions, the subtitles did not appear for a long time. Some of the screenings were repeated after technicians were brought from elsewhere to make the subtitles visible.
Perhaps the ugliest part of the festival was the screening fiasco of ‘Buddah Collapsed out of Shame’ one of the best films of this festival.
This film by Hanna, daughter of Makhmalbaf was scheduled at Saritha, following the screening of The Day I became a Woman by Marziech Meshkini, Hanna’s mother.
The screening could not take place owing to a technical problem. Theatre personnel said they could not screen the film CD as it was in a non-compatible format.
The absence of the film fraternity was notable. Kochi is a place of film actors, technicians and the headquarters of their associations. But they all either did not get themselves involved or were not invited to the festival. .
This is not the first international film festival being held in Kochi.
Two festivals organised by the Cochin Film Society not so long ago were outstanding compared to this. If the job was entrusted to such experienced people, the glory of KIFF would have been much higher.
The problems encountered and mistakes made at KIFF should become a lesson for events of this nature. In order to make future festivals error-free, the collector should take the initiative to call a meeting of all concerned. Entrust the job to efficient, sincere and responsible persons and make it a concerted effort than a ‘one man show’.