IFFI opens with 'Wheat'

Goa event features 12 films competing for $869,000

NEW DELHI -- The 40th International Film Festival of India opens Monday in Goa with Chinese historical epic “Wheat” by director He Ping and closes December 3 with Pedro Almodovar's dark love story “Broken Embraces."

Sir Ben Kingsley is expected to be the guest of honor at the opening ceremony with chief guest, veteran actress Waheeda Rehman.

During the festival, Kingsley is also expected to announce further details about his forthcoming production “Taj” in which the Oscar-winning actor will co-star with Bollywood superstar actress Aishwarya Rai to portray the story of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal.

IFFI is organized by autonomous body Entertainment Society of Goa in association with India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Directorate of Film Festivals.

Two Indian films Satish Manwar's Marathi film “Gabhricha Paus” and Bengali director Atanu Ghosh's “Angshumaner Chhobi” will vie with 11 other films from Asia, Africa and Latin America, for the IFFI's top prize the Golden Peacock and prize money of about $869,000.

In its showpiece Cinema of the World section, IFFI includes about 50 films from over 40 countries including a retrospective of Portugal's Manoel de Oliveira with the mid-fest highlight being French director Jacques Audiard's hard-edged prison drama “A Prophet."

IFFI will also feature retrospectives of Thai writer-director Nonzee Nimibutr, British-Indian director Gurinder Chadha and Brazilian veteran Joao Batista de Andrade, who will preside over the five-member competition jury which includes Indian-Canadian cinematographer-director Vic Sarin, veteran Indian actress Sarika, Japanese actor Kenichi Okubo and French critic/author Jean-Michel Frodon.

The Indian Panorama includes 26 features and 18 non-features which includes Marathi director Paresh Mokashi's “Harishchandrachi Factory” which is India's 2009 entry to the Oscars.

As in years past, IFFI will include a three-day Film Bazaar from November 24-26 that includes participants such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Corporation, the American Film Institute, U.K. Film Council, Gold Crest Films, Germany's Rapid Eyes Movies and BBC Films, among others.