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Centenary Celebrations of Indian Cinema Begin With Festival and Film Market in Goa

The International Film Festival of India and the Film Bazaar are the opening salvos of an upcoming international campaign marking 100 years of Indian filmmaking.

GOA – India’s official celebration of its 100-year film heritage has started with the launch of both the country’s largest international film festival on Nov. 20 and also the beginning of the  four-day industry event, the Film Bazaar on Nov. 21.

Opening with the Indian premiere of Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi – which stars an Indian cast comprising newcomer Suraj Sharma as well as veterans Irrfan Khan and Tabu – the ten-day International Film Festival of India has programmed a special program featuring 27 films and 36 documentaries selected from the various eras of Indian cinematic history, including a screening of Dadasaheb Phalke’s landmark 1913 silent movie Raja Harishkrishna.

The screenings will run parallel to various masterclasses featuring veteran Indian filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The festival ends on Nov. 30 with The Relunctant Fundamentalist, directed by India’s Mira Nair.

The two events are the first of a sustained campaign in promoting Indian cinematic heritage during the next few months, with centenary events expected to be held at the Berlin and Cannes film festivals next year.

This celebration of the country’s filmic legacy was central to the opening ceremony of the festival on Nov. 20, where facets and episodes of Indian cinema were re-enacted through a live music-and-dance performance. It came after speeches delivered by government officials, Bollywood star Akshay  Kumar, and a presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Polish director Kryszytof Zanussi.

While the IFFI attended to Indian cinema’s past and present (in the shape of an Indian Paronama of new films from the country’s various linguistic cinemas), the Film Bazaar will undertake a look into the future of filmmaking in India and its regional neighbors with its co-production market, in which directors and producers of 26 projects seek to meet potential backers and investors.

Over 510 delegates from around the world will also be present at the bazaar seeking business link-ups and also information sharing in the form of a series of seminars focusing on film financing, international collaborations and strategies to navigate the international film festival circuit. In addition to the co-production market, the bazaar also hosts a screenwriters’ lab and and a work-in-progress lab for five selected filmmakers.

While the bazaar – organized by the state-run National Film Development Corporation – has retained its acclaim among participants and the media in its success in bringing filmmakers, producers and other delegates from around the world for its activities, the International Film Festival of India came under fiery criticism from the local media for disorganization and low-wattage star allure.

Speaking to the press after the Film Bazaar’s inauguration ceremony, Indian information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said his ministry – which co-organizes the festival with the state government’s Entertainment Society of Goa – will sit down at the completion of the festival to conduct “a holistic and comprehensive review” of the proceedings.