The week-long celebrations of world cinema at the Kolkata International Film Festival came to an end on November 15 with the declaration of the winners of the national and international competition section. The event also saw the guests and dignitaries stressing upon freedom of expression in cinema.
The curtains for the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) were dropped for this year on November 15. The closing ceremony was a colourful affair with the veteran actress Shabana Azmi present as the chief guest. The ceremony also saw chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee and Shabana Azmi stressing upon the freedom of expression in films. Speaking about the importance of freedom of expression and diversity in cinema, Azmi said, “Cinema is the focal point of diversity. As the world shrinks and becomes a global village it is important to recognise the cultures in their own paradigms, rather than setting up yardsticks imposed by the West on East. This becomes most evident from cinema. We can see that films have the power to open a window where we learn about other cultures. So cinema towers above other art forms.”
The chief minister appreciated Azmi’s statement and said, “We love freedom of expression. Without it we will lose the right to speak and move. Nowadays this is very much required. In future with the help of all citizens we should uphold the Constitution and democratic rights.” There was also a message sent by the Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, who couldn’t attend the inaugural ceremony due to ill health, where he spoke about the changing times, digital platforms and women in the history of Indian cinema.
The silver jubilee celebration of KIFF saw the most number of cinemas being screened this year with a stellar selection of movies capturing the best essence of world cinema. The closing ceremony saw the announcement of winners and distribution of trophies and cash prizes.
The Golden Royal Bengal Tiger award for best film for International Competition: Innovation in Moving Images was awarded to the Guatemalan film La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) directed by Jayro Bustamante while the award for best director in the same category went to Nabarvene ptace (The Painted Bird), directed by Vaclav Marhoul and Czech Republic’s entry for Best Foreign Film category in Oscars. The Special Jury award went to the movie from Kosovo, Shpia e Ages (Aga’s House) directed by Lendita Zeqiraj.
In the national category, the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger award for best Indian documentary film was awarded to Gaurav Puri’s Abridged while the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger award for best Indian short film was given to Suhas Sengupta’s Summer Rhapsody. The NETPAC (Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema) award for best film was won by Aditya Kripalani’s Devi aur Hero (The Goddess and the Hero). The Hiralal Sen Memorial award for best film in Indian language films category went to Mai Ghat Crime No 103-2005, directed by Ananth Mahadevan; while the Hiralal Sen Memorial award for best director in the same category was awarded to Indrashis Acharya’s Parcel. The Special Jury award in the Indian language category was received by Geetha J’s Run Kalyani.
Audience is the main essence
For seven-long days the various cinema halls hosting the film festival across the city of Kolkata were thronged with people coming together to watch movies from a great selection of world cinema. They even battled the storm ‘Bulbul’ on the first day of the festival and arrived at the venues, queuing up with umbrellas to protect them from the incessant rain. Even directors and delegates at the festival from India as well as from all over the world were captivated seeing the spirit of the crowd. They even felt that these are not only people coming to watch a movie, the crowd of Kolkata at the festival is well-informed about what they are watching.
“It is our first time here and we are really overwhelmed with the audience response. The people here are very enthusiastic. In this time here people are going to cinema theatre, while all-over the world and even in Europe, from where we come, everyone is either watching on youtube, digital platforms and others. It is crazy here how more and more people are coming at the theatre here to catch a movie. For us in film production it is a very big feeling. Thank you to all the people from Kolkata and India,” says Valeriy Kalmykov, producer of Ukrainian film Istoria Lizy (Lizas Tale) which was competing in the international category, while talking to Media India Group.
For this year the festival bids farewell to the cinema lovers as their time to look forward for next festival begins.