The first edition of the ‘Meet-the-Director/Artiste’ segment was inaugurated at Kairali Theatre on Saturday and any scepticism in the minds of regulars at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) was only affirmed.

That the festival was being stripped of the ‘Open Forum,’ famed as the quintessential facet of the 17-year-old event in the capital, sparked indignant responses from some but they were pacified by Minister for Cinema K.B. Ganesh Kumar and the organisers’ assurance that it was only the title that had been changed.

A palpable silence filled the renovated hall, from the moment the initial introductions were done and the floor was opened for interaction. Kannada film-maker Girish Kasaravalli declared the ‘Meet the Director’ programme open. Cinematographer, director, and producer Govind Nihlani; film-maker K. Hariharan, director of the L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy, Chennai; and film-maker Ranjith were present.

The fiery spirit of the ‘Open Forum’ was dampened to the extent that there was absolutely no discussion. The film-makers spoke only of the relevance of such a platform, in that it facilitated an exchange of ideas between the spectator and the director, resulting in both parties leaving ‘more learned.’ Mr. Kasaravalli stressed the need to bridge the ‘communication triangle which consisted of the creator, creation, and receiver.’ The film festivals presented an opportunity to do that, he said. Scripts could be presented, ideas aired, thus bringing together funding agencies, producers, directors to create productions that transcended regional boundaries, Mr. Nihlani said.

Mr. Hariharan, who had been part of National Film Award juries, listed ‘some dos and do nots,’ regarding the functioning of such a forum. “The audience must come in with an open mind to learn more about the film and criticality needs to be toned down. Such an atmosphere needs to be created, rather than pitch a battle between different stances.