Minister looks to make changes to event

He Ping’s Chinese historical drama “Mai tian” (Wheat) opened the 40th Intl. Film Festival of India in Goa on Monday.

Laxmikant Shetgaonkar’s Konkani-language “Paltadacho munis” (The Man Beyond the Bridge), which won the Fipresci prize at Toronto, opened the Indian Panorama section.

The section will screen 47 films while the Cinema of the World sidebar will screen 65 films from 45 countries.

This year’s focus will be on Africa and Latin America.

U.K. director Gurinder Chadha, Portuguese helmer Manoel de Oliveira and Thai filmmaker Nonzee Nimibutr are being honored with retrospectives.

In addition, the fest will celebrate the work of actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Asha Parekh and Sharmila Tagore, who have completed 50 years in the film industry.

In her inaugural address, Indian Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni announced the formation of an expert panel to find ways to make the IFFI a world-class event.

“Our time line is to implement suitable changes by IFFI 2010. To see IFFI stand tall as one of the best international film festivals in the world is my vision, my goal,” she said.

The fest ends Dec. 3 with the presentation of the Golden Peacock for best film that carries a cash prize of 4 million ruppees ($86,000). The director and the special jury award winners get Silver Peacocks and cash prizes of $32,250 each.

This year’s jury is headed by Brazilian filmmaker Joao Batista de Andrade and includes Canadian director Vic Sarin, Japanese actor Kenichi Okubo, Indian actress Sarika and French journalist Jean-Michel Frodon.

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