H.N. Narahari Rao on his role as artistic director of the film fest
A film society movement activist for over 35 years, H.N. Narahari Rao, who successfully organised Bangalore International Film Festival (Biffes) in 2011, is the State government’s natural choice as the artistic director of the 5th Biffes, scheduled to be held from December 20 to 27 in the city.
Mr. Rao is a noted film critic serving FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique-India) and Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI) in various capacities. He spoke to The Hindu on the importance of film festivals and related issues.
Q. Why film festivals?
A. A film festival is basically a cultural event and a window to understand sociopolitical and economical development across the world. It is a different experience altogether to watch films from different countries and appreciate [their] art and culture.
Who benefits from film festivals?
[Anyone] interested in films. It is a refreshing experience and helps [people] learn about films being produced in other parts of the world. For those into filmmaking, it is a rich experience to know more about artistic and technical values. For film critics and film lovers, it is a real feast to enjoy the aesthetics of cinema.
How many film festivals are there in the world and in India now?
Over 1,000 annual film festivals are being held in different filmmaking countries across the globe. Each has its own identity and character. In India, they are held in Kolkata, Kerala, Mumbai, Chennai, Osian (Delhi), Pune and now Bangalore has joined the list.
Do film festivals have a set pattern today?
Of course. Films in large numbers are screened in different theatres and those interested in watching films register as delegates. There are invited guests [such as] filmmakers, critics, film distributors, artistes and many celebrities from the film fraternity. There are continuous activities like press briefings, seminars, master classes and interactions.
What is role of the artistic director?
It is the artistic director who provides an identity and character to the fest. A film festival is not just an assembly of films. Selected films should conform to norms and quality and fit into a slot designed as part of the programme. The artistic director gives definite shape to the fest by designing programmes in such a way that films are classified into different sections. [He or she] should have knowledge of international cinema, experience of participating in different film festivals and good contacts around the world to [source] the films.
What is the significance of 5th Biffes?
Biffes is just five years old and it is in the process of building itself as a major film festival. The emphasis is on quality, regardless of the fact that the films have already been screened elsewhere. There are different sections such as world cinema, Asian cinema, Indian cinema and our own Kannada films. Besides these, there will be retrospective of great filmmakers, and classics of the world and Indian cinema.