‘Consul’ to open Goa fest

Noyce, Besson set for retrospectives

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan will inaugurate the 42nd Intl. Film Festival of India in Goa, which is opening with helmer Manuel Gonzales’ “The Consul of Bordeaux” on Nov. 23.

Pic centers on Portuguese General Consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who was stationed in Bordeaux, France, during WWII. He saved the lives of 30,000 refugees by defying his government’s orders and issuing visas guaranteeing safe passage to Portugal.

Goa has strong cultural ties with the country as it was a Portuguese territory for 450 years until 1961, when it became part of India.

The fest’s country focus is on U.S. cinema, with 67 films to be screened. There will also be a sidebar on classic Russian films and sections devoted to animation and 3D.

Australian director Phillip Noyce and French multihyphenate Luc Besson will be honored with retrospectives. Both are expected to attend. Besson’s retro will include “The Big Blue,” “Leon” and “The Fifth Element,” while “Rabbit Proof Fence” and “Newsfront” will form part of the Noyce retro.

Veteran French helmer Bertrand Tavernier will receive the fest’s lifetime achievement award.

The Indian Panorama section will screen 24 films, including India’s entry for Oscar foreign-language consideration, the Malayalam-lingo “Adaminte makan abu” (Abu, Son of Adam), directed by Salim Ahmed.

Total prize money has been raised from $175,000 to $200,000, which will be split among the winners of the film, director, actor and actress awards, the jury prize and the lifetime achievement nod.

The 13-day fest also sees a major change in administrative structure. Previously run by the directorate of film festivals, it will now be administered by an independent fest body that will report to the country’s information and broadcasting ministry.