Permanent secretariat opened in Panaji for International Film Festival of India

NEW DELHI: Even as the country gears up for the 42nd International Film Festival of India, a permanent secretariat has been established in Panaji for the Festival.

Until now, officials of the Directorate of Film Festivals and other units of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry move to Panaji around two months before the Festival commences in the third week of November.

However, the permanent secretariat has been set up following the decision to de-link IFFI from the Directorate. Shankar Mohan, joint director in the Directorate of Film Festivals, has been appointed as IFFI director.

The Directorate will, thus, not only function all year round for IFFI, but will also ensure greater coordination with the Entertainment Society of Goa, set up by the state Government to coordinate with the Centre for IFFI.

The decision to de-link IFFI from DFF followed the recommendation of an expert panel set up by the Government last year to suggest improvements in IFFI. The panel, originally appointed with actor Kamal Haasan as its chairperson, ultimately functioned with media magnate Pritish Nandy at its head after the actor withdrew because of professional commitments.

The panel gave interim recommendations in mid-2010 which were implemented in the IFFI last year. These included increasing the ambit of the Competition section to include films from all over the globe instead of just the third world, and institution of awards for best actor and actress. The winner of the award will be given a Silver Peacock, a certificate and cash prizes of Rs 1 million each. The total cash awards would now amount to Rs 9 million.

These changes marked a return to a pattern that had been followed in the competitive IFFI until 1987.

The Panel submitted its final report in August last year.

With a view to positioning the festival to be at par with international standards, the committee has recommended that workshops may be held at IFFI to discuss new technology initiatives and Master Classes should be conducted by eminent people from world cinema.

As part of the exercise, the Committee constituted four sub committees to study issues that would enable the upgradation of the festival: Technical Sub-Committee chaired by Bir, Sponsorship Sub-Committee chaired by Pooja Shetty Deora, Events Sub-Committee chaired by Nihalani, and Structural Reforms Sub-Committee chaired by Nandy.

The Technical Sub-Committee has given a list of technical upgrades required to improve the quality of the viewing experience at IFFI. The Sub-Committee‘s report along with Mr. Bir’s report for IFFI 2009 prepared for the Madgaon auditorium and his ‘Future Viewpoint’ document for a new auditorium in Goa were also placed before the Expert Committee. The Sponsorship Sub-Committee outlined measures for building brand IFFI internationally.

The Events Sub-Committee has proposed a series of initiatives under the aegis of New Products Platform (NPP). The committee recommended upgradation of the web site for IFFI on the lines of other international film festivals. It also suggested that the Film Market must be developed to international standards and provide business opportunities to Indian film makers. It also felt that International studios and sales agents should be invited for IFFI.

The Committee also recommended that in the Indian Panorama section, the Jury should not be bound to select five films from among 20 recommended by FFI and the Film Producers Guild and may pick a lesser number if it so chooses, if the standard of excellence were not met. To enhance participation, the Committee recommended Q&A sessions to be held post Indian Panorama screenings at IFFI.

The sub committee on Structuring has outlined a roadmap regarding IFFI‘s future structure keeping in mind its mandate and responsibilities in the future.

Other members of the Committee were: Kamal Haasan, Shabana Azmi, Karan Johar, A K Bir, Govind Nihalani, Kishwar Desai, Prasoon Joshi, Nandita Das, Maithili Rao, Lakshmikant Shetgaonkar, C.S. Sapra, Chief Secretary of Goa, and the Director in the Directorate of Film Festivals. The Joint Secretary (Films) was the Member Secretary.

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