As the 23rd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) is set to open gates from November 10, the innovative changes in the programme speak volumes about the week-long celebration of cinema awaiting in this eastern Indian metropolis.
With a guest list ranging from the British film producer and director, Michael Winterbottom to the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Mahesh Bhatt gracing the inaugural ceremony of the 23rd edition of Kolkata International Film Festival on November 10, the city of joy is poised to experience global cinema in its own backyard.
In a press conference on Sunday the film festival committee along with the Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of West Bengal unveiled the logo of the 23rd KIFF and the coveted Royal Bengal Golder Tiger Trophy. The Principal Secretary of I&C ministry, Vivek Kumar addressed the media unveiling the new initiatives of the festival and the new updates from the festival floor that will hook cinephiles to the 23rd edition of KIFF. “Our competitive category was limited to foreign films only; this year we are extending a competitive category for Indian films as well. This will be a big boost for filmmaking in India in Indian languages. We are introducing Hiralal Sen Award, as a mark of respect for someone who could well be called as the first filmmaker of India for this particular category,” Kumar said.
Here are some of the most intriguing programmes of this year’s KIFF that truly takes this film fiesta to a global echelon despite keeping a close connection to its regional roots.
Godard’s rare film comes to Kolkata
Made in 1986, Godard’s Rise and Fall of Small Company was a lost film which was recently discovered and digitally restored. Marking the screening of this Godard classic, the KIFF will be the first festival to bring this film in India. The French title of the film is Grandeur et decadence d’un petit commerce de cinema. Godard, a personality that the world recognises with French New Wave made this 92-minute film in Switzerland for French television.
“The film was released in the first week of October in France as a cinematic version in 2k format and we are happy to screen this French classic in our festival,” added Kumar.
Rare Indian language films
This year the festival introduced a section called Unheard India where films made in rare Indian languages will be screened. 8 films in 8 different languages such as Konkani, Monpa, Kodava, Dogri, Boro, Khashi, Chakma and Maithili will be screened.
Focus Country – the United Kingdom
As the focus country this year, there will be 13 films from the United Kingdom including six of Michael Winterbottom’s films in the retrospective section. The producer/director of films such as Welcome to Sarajevo, Trishna or On the Road will also grace the inaugural ceremony to be held at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. Brush Bucknnell, the British Deputy High Commissioner said, “We want to inspire working together in joint projects with the creative minds in Bengal. We have collaborations in the literary side now we are looking at the film festival to really open up possibilities for collaborations.”
Adding to the cultural exchange mentioned by Bucknneell, the festival committee has roped in Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at the SOAS, University of London to deliver the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture this year.
In the same section where Godard’s rare film will be screened, a Polish masterpiece by Andrez Wajda will also be an interesting bet for film lovers in Bengal. Afterimage, a 100-minute drama that is an official Oscar submission for 2017 in the Foreign Language Film Category is a film that narrates a story of heartbreak, hope and resilience. Wajda a recipient of the Honorary Oscar in 2000, European Film Awards Lifetime Achievement in 1990 and the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement in 2006 is perhaps one of the most celebrated directors of global cinema whose work will be showcased in this year’s KIFF.
Exhibition – Look Through
As an initiative to inspire young filmmakers and cinema students in the state, the festival committee has come up with a special exhibition of cameras used by iconic filmmakers. The original equipment used by the masters such as the Lumiere Brothers, Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak will be showcased at the Gaganendra Pradarshansala.
Opening film – Yellow
After the inaugural function on November 10, the festival will open with Iranian director Mostafa Taghizadeh’s Yellow.
KIFF in numbers
143 films, 53 countries, 135 directors, 16 sections, 12 venues, 93 foreign films, 50 Indian films, 10 Bengal films, 87 short films and 51 documentary films would sum up the week-long cinema extravaganza the city is looking forward to.