Film festivals are places to discover and connect talents: IFFK panel

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 06: A high-profile panel of festival directors, filmmakers and programmers on Sunday mooted the opportunities afforded and challenges faced by film festivals like the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

At the conclusion of the hour-long discussion at Mascot Hotel, the panellists called for the establishment of a national conclave to better familiarise and market the films and their makers from regional industries within each other’s spheres of influence. That would solve much of non-mainstream cinema’s marketing woes, they said.    

“There is no better platform than a film festival for a film to be screened in the best possible quality and for delegates to come together and to interact,” said noted film journalist and festival programmer Uma da Cunha, who moderated the session. “The IFFK has made tremendous strides in that regard.”

Noting that a film festival is an “important tool to discover the scale of the culture to which it belongs”, IFFK 2015 advisory committee chairman Shaji N. Karun said festivals like the IFFK were crucial in that they aided the discovery of new talents.

“Discovering these new keepers of culture is something our audiences want to witness and be intimately involved with,” the award-winning director said. “The most important thing is to identify talent. I am here myself because of a film festival.”

Former director of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Malti Sahai said the IFFK must be congratulated for starting the “excellent Screen Lab film education” initiative. “Since cultural education is not getting funding anywhere, such initiatives have to find stakeholders. This kind of thinking outside the box is what I would advise film festivals to do to grow,” she added.  

Lauding the IFFK for developing an educational character trait, renowned Bengali director Sekhar Das said, “The IFFK is a very lucky festival for me. The first time I brought my film here, it went to four-five festivals afterwards.

“I’ve been watching the development of the crowd here at the IFFK for a few years now. So many people want to watch a Hou Hsiao-Hsien film. In the days of online distribution and net streaming, a film festival must really stand out to get noticed.”

Srinivasan Narayan, former director of the Mumbai International Film Festival, agreed, “There may someday be a film festival streamed via the internet but it is the intangibles – the networking, the scholarship, the experience – that drive the future of the film festival.”

And inspire others -- like the London Indian Film Festival, according to that festival’s director Cary Rajinder Sawhney. “A lot of our programming – in particular, the opening ceremony – drew on the IFFK,” he said.

Chalachitra Academy chairman T. Rajeevnath and Film Employees Federation of Kerala president B. Unnikrishnan also participated in the session.

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