It is the 100th year of Indian cinema and the 10th time the festival is being hosted in Goa

As the capital city put its best foot forward for the 44th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) — scheduled to open on Wednesday evening — Goa had more than just the 100th year of Indian cinema to celebrate. This coincidentally is also the 10th time the festival is being hosted in Goa after the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry decided to give IFFI a permanent venue.

Though IFFI dropped anchor at Goa in 2004 and has not moved out since then, the need for the Goa government to sign a yearly Memorandum of Understanding with the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry has created enough “filmi” suspense about whether the annual fest is here to stay.

The Goa government is eager to sign an MoU for at least five years at a time to make it worth its while to invest in developing permanent infrastructure. Ministry officials, on the other hand, maintain that the yearly MoUs is necessary to set timelines for the various entities involved in organising the festival that this time round has attracted over 10,000 delegates.

Part of the suspense feeds on the fact that a Congress-led alliance leads the Central government while the State is now under the Bharatiya Janata Party. Now that the festival is all set to open, this perennial question has taken the backseat as the city awaits its glamorous guests from the world over. Besides leading lights of Indian cinema like Rekha, Asha Bhosle, Kamal Hassan and Waheeda Rehman, the festival this year will see Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon and acclaimed Iranian director Majid Majidi put in a presence.

Ms. Rehman will be presented the first Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year 2013 at the inaugural ceremony and Jiri Menzel — arguably the best known representative of New Wave Czech Cinema — will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. His latest celluloid venture, Don Juans, will be the opening film of the festival which will close on November 30 with a film on anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

326 films

Prakash Kamat writes:

Ms. Sarandon, the chief guest, will inaugurate IFFI 2013 at a specially erected venue along the river Mandovi at 4 p.m.

This year, 326 films from 76 countries, including 15 of Oscar-nominees, will be screened. Eighty per cent of them will be in digital format.

Eminent painter from Assam, Pulak Gogoi, is the brain behind the design and theme, Festival Director Shankar Mohan told presspersons here on Tuesday.

The festival will showcase Japanese and Greece films in the country focus section. The highlight will be the International Competition, with prize money amounting to a total of Rs. 1.1 crore. Fifteen films from around the world, including two Indian, will vie for the coveted Peacock Awards.

An eminent jury, comprising award-winning Serbian director Goran Paskeljevic, veteran French filmmaker Claire Dennis, iconic Sri-Lankan writer-filmmaker Prasanna Vithanag, Indian actor Victor Banerjee and critically acclaimed French-Afghan photographer, writer and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi, will judge the films.

The Indian Panorama section will open with the Malayalam film ‘Kanyaka Talkies’ and will feature the works of directors like Rituparno Ghosh (Satyanweshi).

Over 300 journalists and film-writers have registered for the festival.

Special Tribute

The festival will pay tribute to ground-breaking filmmakers Manoj Kumar, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, and K.A. Abbas.

It will also pay respects to Nagisa Oshima (Filmmaker, Japan), Ruth Prawer Jhabwala (Screenwriter, India/Germany), Park Chul Soo (Filmmaker, South Korea) and Vadim Ivanovich Yusov (Director of Photography of eminent filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky) who passed away last year.