Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur on Sunday said the government aims to establish the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) as the one-stop destination for content creation, filmmaking and shooting.
The 53rd edition of the nine-day festival is set to kickstart here with film personalities including Ajay Devgn, Kartik Aaryan, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Bajpayee, Suniel Shetty, Varun Dhawan, and Sara Ali Khan in attendance at the opening ceremony. The festival runs till November 28.
"The IFFI is Asia's largest film festival and we are in the 53rd edition… We want to establish India as a global content hub. Be it content creation, co-production, filmmaking or shooting," Thakur told reporters ahead of the opening ceremony here.
In the 75th year of India's independence through the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative, the union minister said the focus is not only on celebrating excellence in cinema but also creating a collaborative ecosystem for the Indian film industry to go global through its Film Bazaar (market).
The film market, which will be held for five days, aims at discovering, supporting and showcasing South Asian content and talent in filmmaking, production and distribution for collaborations with international film fraternity.
"As we celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, our plan is to develop India as the most sought-after destination for filmmakers, co-production, post-production and a larger market place of the world.
"I am sure India has all the capabilities and possibilities with the trained and skilled manpower. Also, the way technology is being used in India, now we have the power to make the regional content international," the Union minister said.
For the first time, the Market Area will include pavillions for countries, states as well as private organisations. States participating in the market include Bihar, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Russia and France will also have a major presence at the Film Bazaar.
Calling India the "land of stories", Thakur said the world is still unaware of the capabilities of Indian storytelling. As a cinema-loving nation, the need is to further and utilise this soft power, he added. "India is a country full of stories. No other country can offer such stories and also the manpower, which is skilled and less expensive… The festival also serves as a major platform for regional filmmakers to come and showcase their work. 'RRR', a regional film, has become an international film. The movie has not only done business but has also showcased the power of Indian storytelling," he said.
The Union minister also informed that almost 40 per cent of the movies being showcased at the festival, under the in- and out-of-competition segments, are either directed or fronted by women.
"Much like real-life, cinema is incomplete without the participation of women. We are trying to make sure that their work is showcased and promoted as much as possible. This year, almost 40 per cent of films being showcased here are made by women filmmakers or are centered on female stories," he said.
Conducted jointly by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), the 53rd IFFI will feature retrospectives on Dadasaheb Phalke awardee Asha Parekh and Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura, who will be honoured with the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement award at the opening ceremony.
As a part of the retrospective, Saura's eight films, including La Caza del Conejo and Ana Y Los Lobos, will be screened during the gala. Parekh's "Teesri Manzil, Do Badan and Kati Patang will also be showcased.
Austrian movie "Alma and Oskar", directed by Dieter Berner, is the opening film this year. Total 280 films from 79 countries will be screened at the IFFI.
To mark the golden jubilee of Manipuri cinema, the festival will showcase five feature and five non-feature films, curated by Manipur State Film Development Society under Indian Panorama. Manipuri film pioneers like Aribam Shyam Sharma, Oken Amakcham, Nirmala Chanu, Borun Thokchom, and Romi Meitei will attend the festival.
Films from the National Film Archive of India — including Sohrab Modi's Nausherwan-E-Adil (1957), Ramesh Maheshwary's Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai (1969), K Vishwanath's 1980 Telugu movie Sankarabharnam and Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) as well as Ganashatru (1989) — will be showcased by the NFDC in the Indian Restored Classics section. The 53rd IFFI is the first full-fledged physical edition of the festival following the COVID-19 pandemic. The last two editions were held in hybrid format.