The sixth edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) got off to a glittering start with actor Kamal Haasan declaring that Bangalore has the potential to become an important centre for the international film industry just as it is for the Information Technology (IT) industry.

Speaking at Jnanajyothi Auditorium — packed beyond capacity with film buffs and industry people — Mr. Haasan recalled how Bangalore had nurtured his interest in international cinema back in the seventies, when he would visit the city to watch the best of world films.

It is time that Indian film makers, who produce over 1,000 films annually, “look out of their window” at world cinema and match the aspirations of an audience that has already acquired international standards in their taste, he said.

Of dreams

“I don’t know how governments function, but I know how dreams do,” said Mr. Haasan, asking the organisers of the festival and the Karnataka government to work towards realising the dream of turning the city into a film capital.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah — who said the “sky appeared dull” against the turnout of “stars” at the function — promised to provide all help to the industry. However, he cautioned that the 80-year-old Kannada film industry, which is going strong in terms of volume, should carefully preserve quality. He hoped that the film festival helps the local film industry grow strong enough to compete with the best in the world.

Kannada film star Sudeep responded to this by promising that the local industry would live up to the Chief Minister’s expectations.

The festival’s artistic director, H.N. Narahari Rao, said the weeklong festival (till January 2) will screen 160 films from 52 countries. He said it was an opportunity to see the “world in Bangalore”. Mr. Rao emphasised the need to have a permanent venue for the festival in Bangalore, like there are for other international festivals.

Iranian film director Pouran Derakhshandeh and Hof festival director in Germany, Heinz George Badewitz, were the guests of honour. Kurdish film Bekas (directed by Karzan Kader) was shown at the inaugural.

For international recognition

A big hurdle for international recognition for BIFFes, such as the festivals in Goa, Mumbai, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram, has been the absence of a permanent schedule and venue. Taking a step closer to such a recognition, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the government would start a “festival cell” in the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy to ensure a permanent schedule for the festival. The State’s Information Department will initiate the process, he added.

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