The 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), 2018 was organised in the city between November 10 and 17, 2018. The state government promoted the KIFF as one of their premier flagship events. The festival screened 170 films from 70 countries including India. The Vietnamese film
‘The Third Wife’ directed by Ash Mayfair and produced by Tran Thi Bich Ngoc and Ash Mayfair was selected as the best film of the festival.
KIFF has become an integral part of the city’s cultural milieu and its origin can be traced back to 1995. However, long before that, in 1965, eminent film-maker Satyajit Ray founded the ‘Cine Central’ along with veteran director Madhu Bose to promote interest in quality international films. It was in 1985 that Satyajit Ray inaugurated the state’s cultural hub ‘Nandan’ which is now the centre of this prestigious film festival.
Film-maker Kamaleswar Mukherjee spoke to BE about the recently concluded film festival. He said, “2018 has marked the birth centenary of filmmaking in Bengal. The KIFF was born due to the relentless efforts put in by the film fraternity. This film festival has seen participation of internationally famed film personalities. Over time, the budget has increased as well. Innumerable film celebrities from different parts of the country and the world have graced this festival. But has the KIFF been able to create new vistas of cinematic visions and techniques in the minds of the newcomers in the circuit? Not yet.”
He added, “For decades, Bengali cinema has failed to establish itself in the international arena. The film industry here has gradually shrunk in terms of budget, execution, earned revenue and ideation. The quality of films curated and exhibited in the KIFF has largely deteriorated due to the efforts to popularise and commercialise the films shown in KIFF. This calls for raising an alarm.”
Abhishek Sinha, an emerging filmmaker from Kolkata, told BE, “An international film festival is always interesting to attend because of the exposure it offers. For example, we get to see a quality cinema from Iran, only in an international film festival or an international film show, though nowadays international films are more easily available online. It is obviously fruitful for film education. Classical films made by the international maestros are screened in these festivals. These classics often inspire young film-makers like us to think differently. But the relevance of such festivals has reduced as people now get to see good international films through the internet.”
Abhinandan Dutta, a Kolkata-based young film director, told BE, “The KIFF authorities have recently initiated a competition for Indian languages films along with the competition for the international category. The prize money for the winners in the Indian languages category is quite handsome. This is inspirational for new generation directors. But along with this positive side, I feel that this festival should not lose its international flavour or its quality for the sake of publicity and commercialisation. We want to hear more from knowledgeable directors rather than from popular personalities of commercial films.”
The KIFF carries the legacy of luminaries like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, and Mrinal Sen and is very close to the heart of the city’s residents. The government and the KIFF authorities should take care to preserve this prestigious event without losing the perspective of its creators.