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Shah Rukh, Amitabh Bachchan support KIFF, ignore MFF

November 11, 2014 12:43:19 PM IST
By Rajesh Kumar Singh, Glamsham Editorial
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It's surprising and betrays the ignorance on the part of our stars about the state of world cinema and international film festivals. While the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) organised by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) have had problems roping in the celebrity stars of the Indian Film Industry to walk the red carpet and raise the festival's media profile, these stars have been ever willing to lend their mighty names to second rung film festivals that recycle the films that have had their India première in MFF.


This year was a little different for MFF as the stars like Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and filmmakers like Vidhu Vinod Chopra developed serious conscience pangs after a sustained social media campaign and came forward to save MFF. They ensured that the opening and closing events of MFF had some star presence.

However, the delay and doubts about its continuation affected the festival's line up of films in 2014. A few important films that would have otherwise been part of the festival programme went to IFFI. In spite of that MFF had an excellent line up. It certainly had the best of the debut films from across the world for its Competition and Above the Cut sections. The films by emerging Indian talent that had won top honors at festivals like Berlinale and Venice were part of its competition and India Gold (Competition) line up. 

Interestingly, all international films in MFF's line up are India premieres since the MFF opens the festival season in India. It has programmers and curators who travel around the globe, and have easy and direct access to international filmmakers, key festival programmers, sales agents, and distributors. They manage to pick the best of the world cinema titles including films that have earned kudos at the top five films festivals like Sundance, Berlinale, Cannes, Venice, and Toronto.
In spite of the acute financial crunch MFF managed to get top of the line festival winners and favourites like GOOD BYE TO LANGUAGE, MOMMY, NYMPHOMANIAC, THE SEARCH, BOYHOOD, FURY, KILLA, COURT, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, PARTY GIRL, THE BLUE ROOM, SAINT LAURENT, THE HOMESMAN, BLACK COAL THIN ICE, and the rest.  It's a fact that every other Indian Film Festival, including IFFI Goa, picks up films from the MFF line up and recycle them the rest of the year.

The issue is if Bollywood celebrities are aware that the festival that takes place right there in their backyard is the best film festival of the country with a line up even the other international film festivals (London, Tokyo, New York), excluding the top five of course, are envious of? I don't think they know it. Had they known, they would have had greater respect and regard for MFF. They would have been flocking to it's red carpet events in droves, adding much needed glitz and glamour to its proceedings, and raising its profile to attract big ticket sponsors.

On the other hand they are ever willing to attend red carpet events of a festival like Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), a pure sarkari enterprise that can at best be considered a ‘second hand' film festival in comparison with MFF. Though it calls itself an ‘international' film festival and even has FIAPF logo displayed on its web site, there is nothing remotely international about it.

It does not even have a transparent online delegate and media accreditation system. It' pathetic web site gives no useful information to visitors and those who may be interested in attending the festival. Even the delegates' registration process is shrouded in mystery. It seems if you don't personally know the bureaucrats and the festival officials, you cannot get yourself registered as a delegate or a media person. Out of town journalists never get media accreditation unless they personally know the officials.

Amitabh Bachchan and his entire brood including Jaya, Aishwarya, and Abhishek were present at the opening ceremony of KIFF. It was obviously designed to add Bollywood lustre, glamour, and razzmatazz to the plain sari of the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Big B was joined in by Shah Rukh Khan, perhaps in his capacity as the owner of Kolkata Knight Riders. He is also the favorite Tango partner of Mamata Di.  

A look at the KIFF's festival's programme is quite revealing. What it boasts of as its prime offering of world cinema to Kolkatans are the films that have already been showcased in the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) that concluded a few weeks ago. Among them are Jean Luc Godard's GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE, Michel Hazanavicius's THE SEARCH, Dardenne brother's TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT, Ken Loach's JIMMY'S HALL, Lars Von Trier's NYMPHOMANIAC (Vol. I & II), Xavier Dolan's MOMMY, Xang Yamou's COMING HOME, etc.

One wishes and prays that Bollywood stars understand the importance and significance of MFF that survives in spite of the paucity of funds and with non-existent support from the Govt. Nevertheless, it has been bringing the best of the world cinema to Indian shores for years. It also set a trend by offering big prize money to films in its competitive sections and by inviting Oscar, Golden Bear, Golden Lion, and Palme d'Or winning filmmakers and talent to conduct master classes and head its competition jury.

What more, MFF has played a very important role in inspiring a new generation of filmmakers who have made their presence felt at key film festivals across the globe.  Filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Vikramadity Motwane and many others have openly acknowledged it.

Rajesh Kumar Singh (the author) is our Editorial Consultant. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst. The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Publication/Organization. Neither the Publication/Organization nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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