IFFK at 20: Shyam Benegal lauds IFFK Screen Lab 2015 concept


Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 1: Inaugurating the IFFK Screen Lab 2015 – a mentored workshop in cinema skills and techniques exclusively for Malayalam film technicians, iconic filmmaker Shyam Benegal observed that the initiative would provide welcome fillip to local expertise. 

The three-day workshop – a first-of-its-kind event to mark the upcoming 20th edition of the IFFK – was declared open during a special function at Hotel SP Grand Days today. It brings together a team of top-notch specialists from film industries in India and around the world to impart skills and techniques crucial to contemporary film production – art direction, production designing, cinematography, script-pitching and make-up, among others.

 “With the involvement of internationally recognised film makers and film technicians, the IFFK Screen Lab will surely impart more skills and ideas on filmmaking for the participants – adding richness to the Malayalam film industry as a whole,” Benegal said.

This was especially important, he added, noting that it was filmmakers from Kerala who most closely followed in the footsteps of torchbearers like Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen in daring to challenge the traditional formats, narratives and structures considered dogma to mainstream Indian cinema.

“A cult of new filmmakers, like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and the late great G. Aravindan, starting from the 1970s and well into the ’90s started to recognise that they were not bound by the structures or forms that had come to define ‘Indian cinema’,” said Benegal, who downplayed his own crucial contributions to the ‘parallel cinema’ genre.

“Rather, they found they were free to experiment with their own visual interpretations,” he added, attributing some of this to the high standards of film literacy and zeal for cinema in Kerala’s film going audiences. “No doubt this is helped by Kerala’s traditionally high social indices like literacy.”

The workshop will be mentored by Pulitzer Prize-nominated dramatist and screenwriter Martin Sherman, Claire Dobbin (chief mentor), chair of the Melbourne International Film Festival, art director and Woody Allen collaborator Anne Seibel who was nominated for an Oscar in production design for Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011), noted cinematographer Nigel Walters, film editor Andrew Bird and filmmaker Nathalie David.

Also helming sessions at the workshop are such Indian industry stalwarts as National award-winning cinematographer Anil Mehta, Piyush Shah and Sunny Joseph, renowned make-up artists Nahush Pise, Ramesh Mohanty and Pattanam Rashid and director Vinay Shukla, among others.

“It’s a line-up that wouldn’t have been possible were it not for Shaji N. Karun,” said Chalachitra Academy chairman and IFFK 2015 festival director T. Rajeevnath, who delivered the welcome speech. “This being a milestone edition of the IFFK, Shaji thought the idea to conduct a work shop for technicians from the Malayalam film industry was important. It is also a first for the festival.”

Karun, who chairs the festival’s Advisory Committee, felicitated Shyam Benegal during the function. In his address to the gathering of industry luminaries, the celebrated filmmaker said the Screen Lab was bound to change its participants’ perspectives towards filmmaking.

 “After three days of knowledge sharing and discussions on filmmaking through the Screen Lab, the way one watches and understands a movie will change. They will be able conceive the merit and idea put forward by a movie,” said Karun, adding that the film fraternity should remember the fact that cinema is a big contributor to a country’s geist.

Also participating in the function were Narayan Srinivasan, former director of Mumbai Film Festival, Chalachitra Academy vice-chairman Shri Joshy Mathew, noted cinematographer Ramachandra Babu and Academy secretary Shri Rajendran Nair.

IFFK Screen Lab 2015 will run until Thursday, December 3, at the Revathy Kalamandir Film Academy in Kazhakootam.

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