The inaugural Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF) finished on a high with Dadasaheb Phalke Award winning legendary filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan complimenting GIFF organizers on a promising and successful first Festival, terming it as one of the best in the country.
During the six-day film extravaganza, 78 films from 32 countries were screened that saw the participation of a galaxy of filmmakers, producers, scholars, journalists, eminent film personalities from India and abroad, fans and enthusiasts among others, in a jamboree atmosphere.
“I am overwhelmed because with the very first festival, Assam has established itself as one of the best in film festivals in the country,” said Gopalakrishnan, who graced the closing ceremony as the chief guest.
The filmmaker requested the government to construct a permanent venue to hold film festivals in future with a maximum of five screens. He, however, requested the organisers not to extend the competition section to international films as GIFF should present all the good films.
“At best, it can be a competition for South Asian films, including those from India, Pakistan, Burma and other neighbouring nations. Let us not go beyond that. It will be very difficult,” Gopalakrishnan said.
In the GIFF’s competition section held only amongst Assamese films, Shankar Borua’s ‘Khandobdaah’ (Grief on a Sunday Morning), an intense psychological drama about a father-son relationship that comes apart over a weekend, was adjudged the Best Film. ‘Jahnu Baruah‘ (Man with the Binocular) by Rima Das was awarded the Second Best Assamese Film, while ‘Jahnu Baruah‘ (The Hidden Corner) directed by Jaicheng Jai Dohutia received the Special Jury Award.
The internationally acclaimed Prasanna Vithanage from Sri Lanka was the Chairman of the Jury, while the other two members were noted filmmakers B Lenin and Sanjib Sabhapandit. Infact, Vithanage was highly impressed with the poetic beauty of some of the Assamese films which were in competition. “These films are no less than any of the best regional films in India or any international film,’’ he said.
The closing film of the six-day film extravaganza was ‘Perekonnavaled’ of Estonia, directed by Valentin Kuik and Manfred Vainokivi.
The festival organised by the Jyoti Chitraban (Film Studio) Society in association with the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Regional Government Film and Television Institute, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on October 28, in the presence of Iranian ambassador Gholamreza Ansari and Czech ambassador Milan Hovorkov. The Oscar winning Iranian film ‘The Salesman’, directed by Asghar Farhadi and produced with the joint collaboration of Iran and France, was the festival’s opening film.
Cine lovers in the State watched five acclaimed films from Turkey, the focus country, and six Iranian films in the Contemporary Iranian Cinema section. The films from Turkey were ‘Ember’ directed by Zeki Demirkubuz, ‘Yarim’ by Cagil Nurhak Aydogdu, ‘Toz Bezi’ by Ahu Ozturk, ‘Rauf’ by Baris Kayer and Soner Caner, and ‘Kalander Sogugu’ by Mustafa Kara.
Six Iranian movies that were screened at the GIFF are ‘Dokhtar’ by Reza Mirkarimi, ‘Rokha Divaneh’ by Abolhassan Davoodi, ‘Malaria’ by Parviz Shahbazi, ‘Raftan’ by Navid Mahmoudi, ‘Valderama’ by Abbas Amini and ‘Inja Kassi Nemimirad’ by Hossein Kondoir.
Films from Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Poland, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Latvia, Japan, Belgium, Ireland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Israel, Greece, Austria, Russia, Philippines, Afghanistan, Peru, Romania, Denmark, Cyprus, Estonia and the US were also screened at the festival. It became apparent once the screening began, that the festival catered to the more serious cinematic interests of cinephiles who appreciate art, avant-garde, and auteur cinema.
The GIFF had sections on World Cinema, Indian Panorama, Retrospectives, Cinema of North East, Cinema of Assam and the Tribute.
The list of Assamese films showcased during the festival included renowned director Jahnu Baruah‘s ‘Hkhagoroloi Bohu door’, ‘Ajeyo’, ‘Halodhiya Choraye Baodhan Khai’ and ‘Konikar Ramdhenu’. Films by pioneering filmmakers of Assam – Dr Bhupen Hazarika (‘Shakuntala’), Abdul Mazid (‘Chameli Memsahib’) and Dr Bhabendranath Saikia (‘Sandhya Raag’) were also shown.
An important feature of the festival was Open Forum sessions on topics related to films and the region as well as Master Classes by film personalities in their respective fields.
Besides Adoor Gopalakrishnan, eminent film personalities such as Shaji N Karun, Jahnu Barua, Resul Pookutty and A K Bir were associated with GIFF in various capacities.