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Unique film fest

Bring Your Own Film Festival, held at Puri, showcased a diverse range of films in an informal setting.

THE TITLE says it all about this unique film festival being organised in Puri since 2004. For five days, from February 16 to 20 this year, Puri played host to Bring Your Own Film Festival (BYOFF), a large gathering of independent film makers who screened their works and interacted with each other.

The venue was Pink House, a hotel-cum-restaurant right on the beach. The place has a large fenced-off area inside which the event took place.

A large tent, lined with black cloth, was put up where films were projected. There were also night screenings in the open air on 35 mm and 16 mm.

The films were projected on a big wall painted white. The screenings inside the tent began early in the afternoon after lunch and continued till late in the night.

After eventide, viewers had the option to see films screened in open air. A mini DV was used for open-air screenings as most of the films that were featured this year came in DVD format.

The festival featured more than a 100 films over five days and they ranged from feature length to short films of two-minute duration.

Some highlights were Sharmy Pandey's "Ebam Phalguni", a 26-minute short film described as "shocking and bold yet beautiful", Pankaj Advani's black comedy "Urf Professor", Soumya Mukhopdhayay's 12-minute tribute to Jean Luc Godard "Death of JLG", Sudipto Acharya's student workshop production "Orbit" and Shiladitya Sanyal's "Abhimaan Band-party".

Films like Chennai-based theatre person Michael Muthu's "The Girl", a comedy on a girl intruding into a young man's life and career, Ranu Ghosh's "Curtain Call" on early Bengali theatre and Saratchandran's "Only An Axe Away" on Kerala's Silent Valley project and the resultant environmental issues, generated much interest.

Though there was no foreign filmmaker present with their films, one of them, Waiting, was screened.

The no-frills attached film festival is a perfect platform for the Indle brigade.

Australian actress Helen Jones who has acted in the film, was present on the occasion. Says a member of the BYOFF team, "There were about 250 people at the festival and in its second year, we felt the message has gone across the country and the response has been very encouraging though we are still struggling with the funds."

The idea of Bring Your Own Film Festival, the title of which explains the essence, has already generated huge and enthusiastic response in the Indian film-making community and there have even been some responses from abroad too, if the organisers are to be believed.

Those who run the show basically do the networking through Internet, e-mails and SMS. It is meant to be an informal gathering of not only filmmakers or actors but also artistes, musicians, theatre persons, writers and everyone interested in arts in general and films in particular.

"The idea is to just bring your film and screen it right there, on the beach... No entry forms, no selection procedures, no competition, no bureaucracy, no hierarchy. Just films...," the BYOFF brochure declares.

Since the festival is held in February, there is less pressure on hotels as the tourist season just about tapers off.

In keeping with the informality of the occasion, there is no formal inauguration. While last year, it was a young three-year-old Belgian girl who inaugurated the fest this year it was Kanak Reddy, a banana seller and polyglot, who did the honours. Reddy even watched some films!


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