Guess how much money it would take to organise the Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF) under ideal conditions? “About Rs. 2 crore,” said festival director E. Thangaraj during an interactive session on crowd funding. “This year, we spent about Rs. 40 lakh on acquiring film prints alone, not adding the cost of shipping or theatre rentals,” he said. The festival, into its 11th edition, did get government support this year too, but a large share of the funds had to be borne by celebrity volunteers. Sarath Kumar chipped in with Rs. 8 lakh and Mani Ratnam, Rs. 7 lakh. The other organisers too helped in one way or the other, in cash or kind, hosting international guests and organising after-parties every night. “But every quality film wants screening fees of €500-1,000 per film and films are procured through agents who rarely budge,” said Thangaraj. “Maybe we should ask the people of Chennai to support the festival through crowd funding,” said Suhasini. Maybe next year?
A Polish affair
Andrzej Wajda’s latest Polish biopic on Nobel Peace Prize winner, Lech Walesa, titled ‘Walesa: A Man of Hope,’ screened as part of CIFF Red Carpet premieres, left the Left-leaning audience, that is old enough to know Soviet history, feeling overwhelmed and nostalgic. Speaking about Walesa, K. Hariharan, director of L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy, who identified himself as a Communist and an atheist, said he was deeply influenced by him in his younger days. “He brought hope to young people fighting tyranny and dictatorship in countries around the world,” he said. He recounted how, in 1983, during his visit to Moscow, where he showed his first film, ‘Ezhavudhu Manithan,’ Walesa’s brave act of defiance helped open up new ways of thinking. “There was a renaissance,” he said. Talking of Andrzej Wajda’s works, Mr. Hariharan said, “It is a continuation of sorts,” and recommended films such as ‘Kanal’ and ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ to those who aren’t acquainted with Wajda’s works.
Banking on crowd funding
When actor Satish Ninasam, who played the lead role in ‘Lucia’, a Kannada film which was completely crowd-funded, told the audience that turned up to listen to a panel discussion on crowd-funding that he had signed eight films, it was a triumphant moment for Team Lucia. So overwhelmed were the audience that a few instantly offered to contribute and support such efforts. Satish said he did the film despite not being paid much because he was inspired by Tamil films such as ‘Angadi Theru’, ‘Paruthiveeran’ and so on. “I only know to act. Pawan knows to write and direct. I just trusted him. It is not as if I had too many options,” he said.
Spotlight on women
CIFF Forums have been all about intense discussions about films. Tuesday’s session on ‘Women behind the screen’ will begin at 2 p.m. at Rani Seethai Hall. “The agenda is to celebrate women behind the screen and to encourage the younger generation to get into the visual media,” said actor-director Rohini who is coordinating the forum sessions. Producers and entrepreneurs Pushpa Kandaswamy, Sitara Suresh, Archana Kalpathy and Nivedha Priyadarshini will participate.