By Karan

Cinema, one of the grandest media of expression the world has seen, is supposed to transgress geographical boundaries, gender, religion and above all, expression. It has been a medium that has over the decades, managed to bring the finest creative talent from around the world on single platform called Film Festivals, with a purpose of exploring and appreciating new ideas in filmmaking and story writing in its truest sense. At least, this is the manner in which Festivals are portrayed in the west. When it comes to our own country though, the Festival, like all other happenings and progress in the country, is marred by that underwritten plague that has been in existence since Independence - “Red Tape” and “Inter-Governmental Disputes”.

International Film Festival of India, the 2012-13 Edition is concluding as I write this. It apparently ranks amongst the world’s oldest film festivals, yet its reach has been unsatisfactory considering the monies invested in hosting it, which have seen a massive increment year after year. Leave aside Cannes, International Film Festival of India fairs poorly in comparison to say Berlin and Venice; even the more recent festivals of Toronto create more buzz in the industry and media. After IFFI`s hop-skip-jump around various cities, it was decided that a permanent venue be chosen in order to give the festival a sense of stability and heightened international stature. So the beach feathered state of Goa it was.

The big question however remains – has Goa succeeded in raising the stature of the festival? The answer appears to be in the negative. It is also a sad fact that the presence of the film industry is pretty minimal during the festival. In the early years, the Director of the Film Festival used to travel to Mumbai and other film making centres and seek the industry cooperation. This practice has vanished with time and the industry remains largely ignorant of the fete. They select a star as the chief guest and this is the end of the matter. However, few industry persons who happened to be in Goa do make appearances. This year again while most Bollywood A-listers gave cold shoulders, there were non-Bollywood personalities Mira Nair and Hollywood star Live Schreiber who participated and showcased their film ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’  
There are a few factors that may be noted down as to why, in recent years, the interest in this festival has been on a decline by the industry.

  1. Organisational Discipline: To conduct any event of this stature, what needs to be place is organisation to the “T”.  In India, involvement of bureaucracy in any field has always kept personal interests of the organisers involved over and above the bigger picture. Disorganised queues for movies, overcrowding of cinemas on account of fallacy in the pass system etc, which may seem to be minor issues turn out to be badly written about, especially when you have a media/government biggie being caught in such circumstance.
  2. Indian Comparisons with Foreign Festivals. This is an evil truth which is commercially true. Pick out any festival at international levels,be it Cannes or Venice,. the common thread that surpasses these festivals is the Marketability options and resources provided by the organisers. The kind of visibility that a Film Premiering in the Competition or even the World Premier section out there is a magnet for the media from around the world and allows enough coverage and leverage for the films to be watched when they release elsewhere. Why wouldn’t an Indian production house then, opt to spend and travel across the globe instead of IFFI, where the only early visibility that their films would get would be Simple Power-point presentations uploaded on their amateur websites?
  3. Festival Feel and Aura: To respect cinema and art, respect the occasion; respect the sensibility of the International crowds and Media. Make them want your festival more than the breaking news that they may want to cater to. Frame a code of conduct for the invitees. From dressing up in a coded attire for the openings and screenings to conducting press conferences and public appearances and photo-ops. Have a code. Love and pamper the media to love and pamper your festival back. Give the celebrities reasons enough for them to descend apart from the beaches and nightlife. Give them what they want. I say again. Love thy media!
  4. Awareness: don’t make the festival look like a Goa or a Madras film festival. Let major names from industries tie up with the organisational structure. This way, they promote the festival at their end, as they would love to be a part of anything that is productive and seen by the world.
  5. The Government: Stay within the organisation, but not the flow! Cinema is about the Artists, a creed which is born free and always on the creative role. Please set the structure, and leave the matter and motion to people from this industry. They understand the likes and dislikes of their own flock better!
  6. Another very important aspect is the market-‘Film Bazaar’ which takes place parallel to IFFI, this though is comparatively better organised and managed, it still stands aloof from the festival. They both are managed by separate organisation and unfortunately have their own internal conflicts between them. Instead Market should compliment the festival and vice versa, they should share the resources mutually to uplift the image and attract more qualitative crowd for both events.

Last but not the least, Let EGO`s Slide by. This isn’t about an individual or a government. It’s not about a star or a producer. It’s about an industry, which was born to entertain, which thrives to entertain and which is responsible to bring to most of us on our weekends, smiles and happiness when we get out of that cinema screen after watching, whether commercial or not, a well made piece!

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Author : Karan Arora
Karan Arora has written 5 articles for us.
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The British Graduate 100 Awards.

Producer Karan Arora of Highground Enterprise was among the esteemed panel of judges of British Graduate 100, 2010.

Highground Enterprise sponsored the category "MEDIA, FILM & ARTS" of Graduate 100.

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