India’s Information and Broadcasting ministry has transferred operational responsibilities for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) to the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). IFFI was previously the responsibility of the Directorate of Film Festivals.
The NFDC also runs Film Bazaar, South Asia’s largest film project market which runs concurrently with the first few days of IFFI in the coastal resort state of Goa. In its 11th year now, fFilm Bazaar is a model of efficiency and professionalism.
IFFI, now in its 48th edition, on the other hand has had an incident-filled organizational history. The 2012 edition opened with “Life of Pi” in 3D, but the festival misplaced several boxes of 3D glasses Fox Star India had sent from Mumbai and the majority of the invited audience watched blurred images without glasses.
Another year, Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi arrived in Goa, but the festival car got lost and her hotel booking was mislaid. The NFDC intervened to find her accommodation.
“NFDC shall now leverage the festival and the bazaar to promote the power of film as a tool of soft diplomacy and its importance in maintaining the cultural ethos of a nation,” an NFDC statement said.
“Great endeavor by I&B Minister @smritiirani to make #IFFI the most inclusive, relevant forum for Indian cinema. My unwavering support to u!,” Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan tweeted.
The ministry has appointed a 13-member steering committee for IFFI, led by veteran filmmaker Jahnu Barua from Assam, and Meren Imchen from Nagaland. “The cinemas of North-East India need to be recognized as a rapidly growing industry,” the NFDC said in a statement.
Other committee members include new censor board chief Prasoon Joshi, producer Siddharth Roy Kapoor and filmmakers Anand Gandhi and Shoojit Sarcar. It is not immediately clear if IFFI festival director C. Senthil Rajan will retain his position. The NFDC declined to comment on Rajan’s status.
Despite the organizational chaos, IFFI remains enormously popular among cineastes in India and is an affordable way for them to access the best of world and Indian cinema. With cash prizes totalling INR12 million ($188,000), it remains the most lucrative festival in India for filmmakers.
This year’s IFFI runs Nov. 20-28. The Film Bazaar takes place Nov. 20-24.