IFFI-54 Off To Scenic Start

Manu Shrivastava | Panjim

Coloured in the grandeur of creativity, cinematic brilliance and art of storytelling through motion pictures, the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), one of Asia's most prestigious film festivals, has officially commenced its mesmerising cinematic journey in the scenic coastal paradise of Goa with a grand opening ceremony.

A cutout at display at the festival venue in Panjim
Embracing diversity and creativity, this edition of the festival offers a spectacular and immersive lineup of films, showcasing the richness of cultures, perspectives, and narratives from across the globe.

The nine-day film festival has commenced with the international premiere of Catching Dust, by award-winning British filmmaker, Stuart Gatt.

In a glorious tribute to the legendary Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit was honoured with 'Special Recognition for Contribution to Bharatiya Cinema Award' by Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports Anurag Singh Thakur along with MoS Information & Broadcasting, Dr. L. Murugan, and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant during the inaugural function.

Mr Thakur, in his address said that the power of cinema is incredible and throughout its history, cinema has captured and chiseled ideas, imagination and innovation such that it forms the driving force for peace, progress and prosperity in a world which is increasingly distressed with division.

Highlighting several significant initiatives taken by the Government of India to augment the Media & Entertainment Sector in the country, the Minister said that the Hon'ble Prime Minister wants to make India the most sought-after destination for film-shooting and post production backed by the talent of our youth and children and the innovation of our industry leaders.

The Minister added that the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023, received approval from both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. ‘‘This legislation not only broadens the legal framework, shifting its focus beyond censorship to encompass copyright protection but also introduces rigorous measures against piracy with focus on anti-piracy measures to ensure that the hard work and dedication of filmmakers does not go to waste," the Minister said.

Referring to the recently-concluded G20 summit, the Union Minister said that the world witnessed India’s multifaceted and multi-layered development model based on development, diversity and democracy. He further said, akin to India’s approach during the G20 presidency, the main concept and theme of the 54th International Film Festival of India is rooted in the idea of 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam,' which embodies the essence of peaceful coexistence where the world is one family.

Making a major announcement, the Union Minister announced an increase in the incentive for foreign film production in India from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the expenditure incurred, with a raised limit from Rs 2.5 Crore to Rs 30 Crore, exceeding 3.5 million US Dollars, and an additional five per cent bonus for Significant Indian Content (SIC).

The Minister said, "Given India’s size and vast potential there was a need for a higher incentive to attract medium and big-budget international projects’ and added ‘this paradigm shift in incentivising film production serves as a testament to India’s commitment and support for artistic expression and reinforces our position as a preferred destination for cinematic endeavors."

He announced that, for the first time ever, a recruitment drive will be held under 75 Creative Minds of Tomorrow programme, opening up doors to limitless opportunities for their blossoming talents and career trajectories. Started in 2021 and now in its 3rd edition, 75 young filmmakers have been selected from 19 states, including remote areas like Bishnupur, Jagatsinghpur, and Sadarpur out of nearly 600 entries across 10 categories.

Announcing many ‘firsts’ in the 54th edition of the festival, Mr Thakur said that for the first time and from here on, IFFI will bestow an award titled, 'Best Web Series (OTT) Award' which will acknowledge and honour the transformative role of original content creators in India, celebrating their contributions to employment and innovation. A total of 32 entries have been received in 10 languages from 15 OTT platforms for the same.

The Minister announced that for the first time, IFFI has augmented the scope of Film Bazaar by introducing a well-curated 'VFX & Tech Pavilion' to showcase the latest innovations from the cinema world, and a documentary section to its coproduction market to support non-fiction storytelling.

Also this year, for the first time at IFFI, a Cine-Mela will be held to showcase an extravagant celebration of India’s rich diversity through regional films, food, music, culture and more. A Restored Classics Section featuring seven world premieres of the meticulously restored masterpieces by NFDC/NFAI under the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM) from the damaged celluloid reels of Indian Classics has also been added.

Captivating performances entertained the audience at the IFFI Opening Ceremony
Inclusivity remains a guiding principle for 54th IFFI, as all the venues for this year's festival are expected to be equipped with facilities catering to the specially-abled. Four special screenings for Divyangjan delegates with embedded audio descriptions and sign language provisions, adding another dimension to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas — Sabka Manoranjan'.

54th IFFI features films from 40 remarkable women filmmakers. Their talent, creativity and unique perspectives promise to make this ‘mélange of ideas’ a celebration of diverse voices and narratives.’

The prestigious Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award for 2023 will be conferred upon Hollywood actor-producer from the United States Michael Douglas during the Closing Ceremony. With over 50 years in the film and television industry, Michael Douglas has received two Oscars, five Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and countless other honours.

Union Ministers of State for Information & Broadcasting L. Murugan and Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Tourism Shripad Yesso Naik were also present at the inaugural function.

Addressing the audience at the inaugural function, Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Dawant said that IFFI will play a key role in promoting Goa as a film friendly destination. “In recent years, the film industry of Goa has also grown by leaps and bounds and Konkani cinema has carved a place for itself at IFFI," he said.

He said that for IFFI this year, out of 20 entries received under Goa section, the jury has selected seven films. The Chief Minister further added that Entertainment Society of Goa has floated expression of interest for setting up a film city in the state for the expansion of film making industry.

During the inaugural function, the jury members were also felicitated by the Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakur in presence of MoS Dr. L. Murugan and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

For the next eight days, Goa will be coloured in the grandeur of one of Asia’s largest film festivals. From gripping dramas to thought-provoking documentaries and avant-garde experimental films, IFFI 2023 is all set to captivate cinephiles and industry professionals alike. Renowned filmmakers, talented actors, and visionaries in the world of cinema will grace the festival, fostering discussions, collaborations, and a shared passion for storytelling.

The star-studded opening ceremony witnessed the performance of Bollywood superstars Madhuri Dixit and Shahid Kapoor. Other Bollywood stars such as Shriya Saran, Nushratt Bharucha, Pankaj Tripathi, Shantanu Moitra, Shreya Ghoshal and Sukhwinder Singh also performed and enthralled the audiences with their scintillating performances in the opening ceremony.

Embracing diversity and creativity, the International Film Festival of India’s 54th edition promises a spectacular and immersive cinematic experience with a brilliant lineup of films, showcasing the richness of cultures, perspectives, and narratives from across the globe.

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