Screening of international movies lends an exotic touch

EVER-INCREASING POPULARITY: International film festivals are increasingly becoming more popular among the Chennai audience. A still from the movie ‘Oliver Twist.’

EVER-INCREASING POPULARITY: International film festivals are increasingly becoming more popular among the Chennai audience. A still from the movie ‘Oliver Twist.’  

S. Aishwarya

From Mexican to Slovak, a string of movies are screened

CHENNAI: Until a few decades ago, Chennai’s theatres served as a launch pad only for Tamil movies. Gradually, English and Hindi movies began to jostle for screen space and more recently, a few South Indian languages have managed to book few theatres for their blockbusters.

All that has now become a usual affair, with Chennai gaining an extra exotic touch due to the regular screening of international movies. From Mexican to Slovak, a string of international movies are screened every month and as an annual bonanza for the film lovers, the Chennai International Film Festival picks the best from each language and screens it in December every year. “When we started this in 2003 on an experimental basis, we were unsure of audience’s response to such movies. But so far, the patronage is encouraging,” says E. Thangaraj, secretary of Indo Cine Appreciation Federation (ICAF), which organises the Chennai International Film Festival. The festival grew bigger with passing years. Last year saw over 120 movies from 33 countries, and about a thousand participants for every show. “People choose to watch films based on the synopses of the movies that we provide. Some movies are very interesting and are bound to attract more audience,” he says. Prime shows – 4.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. – and award-winning movies, enjoy a large turnout. With language being no barrier and with lucid subtitles, movies with a good storyline are bound to be the hit of the season. This year, the federation will organise competitions for the Tamil movies, in the lines of other international film festivals, and best three films of Tamil will be selected.

The monthly film festivals are again a compilation of the best picks by the federation members. Regulars to the international film festivals would know the genre of the movie by its language. “A major chunk of Brazilian movies, for instance, are action-based and Israeli movies are thrillers. These sort of movies pull the college crowd, who learn the camera nuances,” adds Mr. Thangaraj. S. Santhanam, consultant for Chennai, Mumbai and Lucknow film festivals, says that the international film festivals in Chennai came as a major relief to film lovers and technicians, who otherwise would have to go to Delhi to watch much-acclaimed movies of the world. International movies are a learning experience for the audience, which mainly comprise those from the film industry and students studying media-related subjects, says S.Ve. Sekar, actor and vice-chairman of ICAF. However, he feels there is a lot that needs to be done to enhance the quality of the festival and urges the government to offer financial and infrastructural support to the organisers. “Film festivals not only bring in world movies to Chennai but also expose Tamil movies to an international platform.” While it is increasingly seen as an educational tool for students of media, the entertaining aspect of these movies should be projected, he feels. “They can be as interesting as any Tamil movie. Government and film associations must join hands to promote the film festivals,” he adds.

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