The International Film Festival in Goa was a huge success.
In India we like to criticize. Its why we are the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy. It also why it makes us some of the most cynical people in the world.
I was the Chairman of the Jury for International Films in the competitive section for the films. I was surprised how well the festival went. Not only me, but our fellow jurors were surprised too. By the quality of films we watched. By the quality of the sound and the projection in the theaters. By the sheer number of audiences that attended the screenings. Theaters were full. Why would they not be ? Some of the latest and the best films were being shown. Films that had not even been released anywhere in the world yet. Films that have only just been nominated in various categories for 2016 Golden Globes.
My fellow jurors were astounded by the response of the audiences. They had rarely seen such large number of film lovers turn up at film festivals. They were taken aback by the number of people that flocked to take autographs of Directors and by the number of people that attended the Master Classes taken by directors. They loved Goa and were so happy with the hospitality of the people, the Festival and the ambience that is Goa. And were appreciative of the organization of the festival.
There was criticism that there was no glitter and glamour at the festival. That the stars of Indian Cinema, the Gods and Goddesses, were not present. I have a different point of view. A film festival is not an awards function. Its not an event that hankers after, or is dependent upon TV coverage. World over, at the important film festivals in the world, Stars attend the festival only when their films are being shown. They use the festival to showcase their films and to get publicity.
But then, the films in which the stars act, should be of a standard that competes with the other films being shown at the festival.
There are improvements to be made. I know of no festival in the world that succeeds without a Curator. One person, that creates a special relationship with the film makers from all over the world, and is constantly in touch with the films being made. And then with his/her team, creates the strategy for selections of the films for that year. The Curators are often associated with one festival for 10 or more years, and have a keen insight into trends of world cinema. IFFI needs a curator that becomes the individual face of the festival.
And perhaps a little more infrastructure. If IFFI has to grow it needs more theaters and more conference areas, where people can hold discussions, or just hang out and network with other film makers, buyers, writers and film buffs and audiences generally.