FFI up in arms against Goa as festival venue

NEW DELHI: The Film Federation of India (FFI) will shortly meet information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi to urge him to scrap Goa as a venue for future International Film Festivals of India (IFFI).

FFI has decided to launch an agitation ‘that should sound the death knell for Goa as the festival venue’. It will write to the ministry soon citing its grievances in this regard prior to meeting the minister.Goa was declared as the permanent venue in 2004 for the annual IFFI by the previous National Democratic Alliance government, and the 37th IFFI – the third in Goa – was held from 23 November to 3 December. The organization of the festival was taken up on behalf of the directorate of film festivals of the I&B ministry by the Entertainment Society of Goa, set up specially for this purpose.

The reaction of the film industry was on the cards, as it alleged utter ‘apathy and complete indifference that the festival organizers were showing to the Indian film industry’ and said this was bound to have its backlash.

The annnual general meeting of Film Federation if India, the apex body with constituents strewn across the country, adopted a united and unanimous decision to put all its might behind the ouster of Goa as the venue for IFFI.

The film industry under the aegis of the Film and Television Producers Guild had held a party for the festival delegates, and film industry observers at the spot alleged that the authorities did not extend any helping hand in this. Furthermore, several film personalities alleged that they had to run from pillar to post to get their entry cards for the festival.

The FFI meet felt that “IFFI is a very sacred name for the Indian film industry. It is the nation’s recognition to the outside world as its definitive film festival. But for the past three years since the time the festival has shifted to Goa, the industry is being treated like a pariah. From being confronted with embarrassing questions at the registration desks to being literally reduced to begging for function passes, it was as if this is not the industry’s programme but an outside event where the industry has come in as an uninvited guest’.

The FFI quoted several examples which it termed as ‘howlers’: Shakti Samanta was asked whether he has made any film; and renowned producer Dr D Rama Naidu was asked to prove his credentials. ‘These are but a few of the remarkable gaffes that kept on happening for the last three years with great impunity. The sheer neglect and unfriendliness that the industry has seen since the festival shifted to Goa might have ignited this tempest last year itself.’

‘Can anyone imagine that for the inaugural this year, out of some 5000 capacity, the industry was allocated only 225 seats? And that too with great reluctance on the morning of the function which made it virtually impossible for FFI officials to distribute the cards properly. Is this a film festival or a private function? Not to mention the complete chaos and inefficiency that accompanied the whole organizational process.’

FFI noted that the concerned officials for the festivals were mostly greenhorns. Neither were they cinema savvy nor did they have any knowledge on how a festival should be conducted. "It is as if all of them were on some different trip that had no connection with a film festival. Otherwise, can anyone explain why additional and much needed infrastructure (screens with larger capacity) was not on the priority list? Why should a festival not have the basic amenities? India’s reputation is at stake in such international gatherings and the complete confusion that prevailed surely made us a laughing stock in the eyes of the world," the FFI said.

For the past 30 years, there is a co-ordination system that was in existence between FFI and the festival authorities which was one of the prime reasons why it operated smoothly. Come Goa and all of that has gone up in smoke. In fact, there is a coordination committee that is set up before each edition of the festival which meets regularly before the festival and important decisions are taken. Subsequently, these decisions are passed on to the organizing committee for implementation.

For the past 3 years, the coordination committee was set up, and they met but nothing was put into practice. Most decisions were unceremoniously rejected by the organizing committee. And to put things into perspective, the coordination committee consists of presidents of all film trade bodies . When decisions taken at such a high level is derided, the entire Indian film industry feels insulted.

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