IFFK at 20: Ustad Zakir Hussain headlines opening ceremony

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 27: The opening ceremony of the 20th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) will resonate to the pulsing of Ustad Zakir Hussain’s percussive stylings.

The world-renowned tabla maestro – the Guest of Honour at the festival’s curtain-raiser on Friday, December 4 – will serenade the august gathering of dignitaries and delegates at Nishagandhi auditorium with his extensive repertoire of ‘uthan’s, ‘qaida’s and ‘rela’s, among other forms and compositions.

The performance lends cadence to what promises to be an evening of erudition and gravitas. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will light the lamp, kicking off both the ceremony and the week-long gala of film and artistic expression and appreciation.

  Highlights of the occasion include the felicitation of eminent filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui – spearhead of the Iranian New Wave movement in the 1970s –with the IFFK’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his body of work and contribution to Iran’s cinematic renaissance.  

The opening film will be French director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 3-D spectacular Wolf Totem. Based on the semi-autobiographical 2004 novel by Chinese author Lu Jiamin (using the pseudonym Jiang Rong), the movie follows a young student’s journey from Beijing to ‘civilise’ the nomads of Inner Mongolia.

Beyond the critique of Mao Zedong’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ – the forced exodus of intellectuals into the mofussil and the wilds – the film follows the student’s growing affinity for the steppes and its natives, among them the feared and revered wolf. Breathtaking visuals of the harsh wilderness speak to Annuad’s flair for capturing the natural world.  

Preceding the film viewing will be the unveiling of the festival’s Signature Film – a 25-second haiku on the subtle interplay of light and shadow. A much-awaited IFFK staple, the signature film has traditionally encapsulated the festival’s philosophy and attitude.

The added significance of this being a milestone edition for the IFFK will be evidenced aplenty on the evening and the week following as the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy (KSCA) has entered into a partnership with the city’s cultural organisations to share the IFFK’s spotlight and raised profile with Kerala’s classical and traditional performing arts.

Kerala Kalamandalam, Kerala Sahitya Akademi, Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, Kerala Folklore Akademi and Bharat Bhavan will, over the week from December 5-10, conduct evening performances designed to both inform and entertain.

Dance forms as varied as Kathakali, Theyyam, Padayani, Mohiniyattam and Kerala Nadanam will find expression at a number of venues, including Kanakakunnu palace, from 6 – 7 pm daily. There will also be jugalbandhi sessions conducted at the Bharat Bhavan auditorium.   

IFFK 2015, Kerala’s premier film festival, runs from December 4 – 11.

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