IFFK is back in familiar environs after two years

As community viewing returns, the number of delegates crosses 10,000 in the fete that starts today

March 17, 2022 06:42 pm | Updated 09:07 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Art blooms in the most difficult of times, in the most impossible of situations and places. Even when they were forced to remain indoors by a raging pandemic, filmmakers across the world worked wonders from within confined spaces. For that matter, even the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) was organised, albeit with limitations, spreading its wings out of its home city with four identical festivals, garnering a new set of audience.

As the 26th edition of the festival arrives, there is a sense of returning to normalcy in the outside world after more than two years, which is reflected in the festival too. The distance that separated the audience inside the cinemas has disappeared. From the reduced number of delegates last year, it has again gone up to over 10,000. When the festival officially opens at Nishagandhi on Friday evening, it will mark a return to the community viewing experience, which cannot be replicated even though many of the films having a festival run can now be watched in OTT (over the top) platforms from the cozy comforts at home.

As a symbol of the conflict-ridden times we are living in, the inaugural ceremony will have the presence of Kurdish filmmaker Lisa Calan, who lost both her legs in an IS bomb attack during an election rally. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will honour her with the Spirit of Cinema award. The current conflict zone of Russia-Ukraine will also have its representation at the festival, although the films from these regions do not have much to do with the ongoing conflict.

From conflict zones

The IFFK, with its moorings in the third world, and with its focus on the marginalised and the displaced, has packages from three conflict zones — Afghanistan, Kurdistan and Myanmar — where daily survival itself is a struggle, leave alone the luxury of filmmaking. Nishiddho (Forbidden), the first film produced by the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) as part of the Kerala government’s initiative to support aspiring women directors, will be competing in the International Competition, making Tara Ramanuajan one of the 38 women filmmakers at the festival this year.

Filmmaker in focus

Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes will be the filmmaker in focus this year. Sublime Fantasia is perhaps an apt name for the package, which includes a quirky trilogy based on the Arabian Nights. Delegates are spoilt for choice this year as several films which have generated buzz across various festivals, as well as some lesser known gems have been included in the package of 173 films.

Among the much awaited films are Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World, Tony Gatlif’s Tom Medina, Laurynas Bareisa’s Pilgrims, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, Mia Hansen-Løve’s drama Bergman island set on the Swedish island of Faro, where filmmaker Ingmar Bergman lived and worked, Mahamat Saleh Haroun’s Lingui - The Sacred Bonds, Pedro Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers, Asghar Farhad’s A Hero and Carlos Saura’s The King of All the World.

Indian films

Many of the Indian films at the festival, be it Prasun Chatterjee's Dostojee, Ritesh Sharma's Brittle Thread or Faraz Ali's Shoebox all reflect the contemporary concerns in the country around manufactured communal divisions and erased histories. while the Malayalam Cinema package reflects the new wave of experimentation and awakening in the industry. Six classics restored to their original glory, including G. Aravindan's Kummatty and Sergei Parajanov's Soviet-era film The Colour of Pomegranates, are also being showcased.

Homage section

The year gone by will also be marked by the number of filmmakers and artistes who passed away, whom the festival will pay tribute to in the homage section. The IFFK comes a bit late this year, accompanied by the summer heat instead of the winter chill. Yet, delegates, who have been waiting patiently, might not have many complaints. Rather, they mostly have only reasons to cheer. 

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