Contemporary films that project the current problems of our times can help us contemplate on how these issues can be dealt with, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at the inauguration of the 15th Kolkata Film Festival here on Tuesday.

“The world we live in is badly divided between rich and poor and threatened by international terrorism, global warming and military hegemonies,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said, adding that what directors from around the world were thinking and how they interpreted these problems could help us understand the different issues plaguing the planet.

Echoing his sentiments, veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee said that at a time when the world was passing through a traumatic phase and our own country torn apart by violence, “the continuance of a festival like this is a distinctive function of a democracy.”

“Even during World War II, when London was being pounded by bombs frequently, every effort was made to keep the theatres and cinemas running,” Mr. Chatterjee added.

Focus on Latin America

Enumerating the highlights of this year’s festival, including centenary tributes to filmmakers Bimal Roy and Elia Kazan and other filmmakers of international repute, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “This year we have focussed on films from Latin America in general and Mexico in particular, and I’m certain they will find relevance for India.”

The festival was inaugurated by director Mani Ratnam, who said he was happy to be in “the city that has given us the best cinema that India has made.”

Veteran film director Mrinal Sen was also present on the occasion. His advice to the audience was to choose wisely from the host of films that were on offer, as at every festival, “there are good films, bad films and indifferent films.”