As the 10 Chennai International Film Festival, drew to a stirring close on Thursday, it served as a platform to reflect not just on the evolution and celebration of cinema as a medium, but also on the society within which it functions.

The lights were dimmed, and the screen at Woodlands Theatre was filled with chief guest, Amitabh Bachchan’s intense and impromptu recitation of lines from his song Kabhi Kabhi with a flourish, as artist Mohammed sketched a portrait of the artiste. Drawing attention to the recent incidences of violence against women in the country, Mr. Bachchan, said, “Women share an equal part in our society. They are 50 per cent of the strength of our nation, and they must be treated with equality, and dignity,” adding that, “horrible crimes against women, need to be spoken about and put down very strongly.”

Congratulating the organisers of the film festival, Mr. Bachchan said cinema needs to be proud of its power to integrate people in a fast-disintegrating world.

“One hundred years is not a small amount of time, and we have grown to become the largest film industry in the world, and a major portion of that contribution comes from southern India. I have been a great admirer of your work, of your talent and of your administrative capabilities. We in Mumbai may perhaps be more popular in the rest of the world, but please do not forget that you are an integral part of the system and without you we are nothing,” he said. 

The eight-day film festival presented by The Hindu and Casa Grande Private Ltd., and organised by the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation, brought into eight screens in the city, close to 160 movies from 57 countries.

The winner of the Tamil film competition was ‘Vazhakku Enn 18/9’, with the film ‘Sattai’ bagging the second place, and director Karthik Subburaj took home the special jury award for individual excellence for his thriller ‘Pizza’. Pradeep Kumar won the film buff award.

Calling the CIFF special, N. Ram, director, Kasturi and Sons, said that unlike the Goa and Kerala Film festivals, the CIFF was started by a non-governmental organisation, and has grown thanks to voluntary support from the film industry, volunteers, fans of cinema, and the media.

“The Tamil Nadu government’s gift of Rs. 50 lakh this year, and the doubling of its contribution from the previous year, is a reflection of the confidence that the organisers have brought into the festival,” he said. He also strongly appealed to everybody to reflect on the situation of free speech in this country.

“No film festival can afford to forget the fact that we are celebrating free speech, free expression, and the freedom to be creative, pushing the boundaries all the time and at the same time being accountable to society,” he said.

The compères for the evening were actors Parthiban and Ramya. The radio partner was Chennai Live 104.8 FM.

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