Nothing iffy about IFFI
IFFI-2006 is likely to have a positive effect on local cinema in Goa.
With three consecutive editions of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) under its belt, Goais steadily catching up with the film culture. The biggest beneficiary has been the State's nascent Konkani film industry. Directors, artistes, musicians, writers et al from Goa's well developed Marathi-Konkani stage as well as from the traditional "Tiatro" are gaining from the exposure IFFI is giving them to the quality world cinema, to the different facets like the art of story-telling and technological advances.
Says Pundalik Naik, the Sahitya Akademi award winning writer in Konkani, "Thanks to IFFI, our writers and directors are getting to see the uncensored international films for the last three years. We are learning a lot in terms of new subjects for cinema and the skills to treat them professionally. Our people are also benefiting from the interactions with the national and international level film producers, directors and artistes." A scriptwriter and director of a couple of Konkani films himself, Naik, President of Goa Konkani Academy, says, "The benefits will percolate down in near future."
The Konkani film industry has its inherent handicap in the form of a very narrow audience base. Moreover, people speaking Konkani are spread in only three or four states and that makes films financially unviable. Sandesh Prabhusdesai, Editor of Goa's Konkani language daily, Sunaparant and a TV anchor in Konkani, is a strong believer in IFFI's capacity to revive the Goan film industry.
"We have a narrow viewership base but the solution is definitely on its way. Taking inspiration from the IFFI, the Goa Government has started holding a Goa Konkani film festival for the last two years. They would do well to widen its base by calling it an all India Konkani film festival. That way they can bring together Mangalore Konkani film producers and producers from Mumbai where a large section of Goans reside," he says.
For Konkani filmmakers, lack of screening facilities has been the biggest handicap. Kala Academy, Goa's popular centre for art, culture and music, which has been the main venue for IFFI for the last three years, has taken up several projects ostensibly inspired by the Festival.
"IFFI has enhanced our film-related infrastructure in a big way," says the Academy's Member Secretary Pandurang Phaldesai, a reputed artiste and film director. Now we offer a free screening hall for 950 people, or a jury room or the plasma TV facility depending on their need," he says.
"We organised Adoor Gopalkrishnan's film festival followed by a children's film festival after last year's IFFI. Next month we would have a children's film festival again. All this means a great exposure to different cinema to the local film industry people," feels Phaldesai.
Besides, following demand from local film producers, Kala Academy has implemented a scheme to allot its campus and infrastructure for film shooting to local producers and directors at 50 per cent concession. Its screening halls are offered free of charge for premiers.
The State Government's entertainment wing, The Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) was born thanks to IFFI. Recently, the Government designated ESG as a "single window clearance authority for all film related activities. The local filmmakers are lining up to take advantage, says Dnyanesh Moghe of Vinsan Graphic Production, a local film-producing unit.
"The first IFFI in Goa itself witnessed two Konkani film premiers. This had happened after 25 years since the last Konkani celluloid film was made. The second IFFI and IFFI this year saw one premier each of Konkani films," says Moghe. Interestingly, the State Government's Directorate of Art and Culture swung into action ahead of IFFI this year to take up several film related projects which would show results in years to come. There was a film appreciation workshop where experts like Parvathi Menon and Saied Mirza guided people how to watch quality films. Then there was a film-making course under the guidance of experts followed by actual short film making competition at IFFI for local talent which got as many as 52 entries with scripts for making a film of two to six minutes duration. Sixteen selected contestants actually made films which were judged by a panel led by filmmaker Jabbar Patel.
Also, a lot of film clubs are coming up. Goa International Centre, in association with a film club Moving Images, has been regularly screening quality international films. The membership of the Club is on the rise, says Moghe. Many though do not agree that Goa lacks a film culture. Says Prabnhudesai, "If that was so, then a large number of Goans would not have migrated to Mumbai film industry to earn name and fame in film music, cinematography, acting et al."With the IFFI, indications are that Goa is now generating more opportunities for film related talent in all fields. An international project on animation centre with postproduction facilities is on the anvil. The State has already okayed 25 acres of land for the purpose. "Considering the market constraints, Konkani filmmakers cannot afford to spend Rs.50 lakh on a good film. But the trend of making short films, digital films and documentaries in Konkani is fast catching up," says the maker of Konkani film "Antarnaad", Rajendra Talak . The 49-year-old real estate developer-turned-filmmaker premiered his two Konkani films at the last two festivals.
In association with Mangalore and Mumbai-based filmmakers, the Konkani film industry had produced around 50 odd films beginning from 1950 when the first Konkani film "Mogacho Avando" was made. But the last film came in 1975 "Bhuyarantlo Monis" and there was a big lull till the next celluloid film hit the IFFI screen in 2004 in the form of Talak's "Aalishya".
Talak believes that IFFI is imbibing the message about requisite standard among Konkani filmmakers. "The days of amateurish initiatives are gone, industry will have to come out with good films with a universal reach and not just entertainers," he says.
Moreover, Talak feels that IFFI has opened a window of opportunities for a local filmmaker like him. Because of IFFI last year he could go for national film competition in which his film "Aleesha" got the best Konkani film award. "Not only that, it is because of the platform now available to us that we are able to reach out to the people beyond Goa. We are getting huge exposure and the outcome is in terms of invites we get for film screening at various festivals," he says. His last film was screened at international festivals at Pune, Mumbai and Berlin.
He also credits IFFI for the State Government's innovative scheme for filmmaking. The scheme, unveiled a few months back, has lined up 10 proposals for cellular films in Konkani and eight in Marathi for financial and other support. So, go behind the allegations of mismanagement and bungling. With all its drawbacks, IFFI has had a positive effect on Goan cinema.