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IFFI 52 – International Film Festival of India: Stars and directors talked about craft and careers, while Indian films peered into forgotten corners…

IFFI 52 – International Film Festival of India: Stars and directors talked about craft and careers, while Indian films peered into forgotten corners…

Works that featured at IFFI this year; as well as a short round-up of what happened at Film Bazaar, the independent market section which was virtual this year…

By Rodrigues C

STARS Manoj Bajpayee, Madhuri Dixit and Randhir Kapoor were honoured as the curtain came down on the International Film Festival of India (IFFI52 – 2021).

Dixit, so much a star of the 1980s and 1990s was the chief guest at the closing ceremony on Thursday, November 28. IFFI has been hosted in Goa annually now for some years. ( covered both IFFI50 {2019} and IFFI49 {2018} – see here.


The festival which is organised by India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting tends to focus on independent and non-Bollywood cinema. In recent years though it has extended invitations to Bollywood stars and others to talk about their careers.

Festivalgoers can also enjoy international films that may not get wide distribution in India and for the first time the festival premiered offerings from the big streaming channels, including Netflix. Around 3,000 delegates attended the festival physically and there was a virtual element too – see our short preview from last week in our Bollywood asianculturevulturevibes.

The Indian Panorama section, which highlights the best of Indian regional cinema, opened with filmmaker and one-actor Aimee Baruah’s ‘Semkhor’ in the Feature Film Category. Made in the language of Dimasa, which is a dialect spoken in the town of Semkhor in Assam and the surrounding region, it is a social drama in which Baruah, who plays the lead, learnt the language. It is a drama about a people who don’t have mobile phones and grow their own food. ‘Semkhor’ is based on a custom of the Samsa community, where if a woman dies during childbirth, her infant is buried along with her.


Opening the non-fiction section was ‘Ved…The Visionary’ about filmmaker Ved Parkash and made by his son, Rajiv. His father was nominated for a BAFTA in 1949 for his footage from the funeral of Mahatma Gandhi. Parkash senior was active between 1939-1975.

Actor Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s directorial ‘Abhijaan’, which is a tribute to then Bengali cinema maestro Soumitra Chatterjee, was one of the five Bengali movies that screened in the India Panorama section. It screened as part of the London Indian Film Festival in June this year.

Others included ‘Sainbari to Sandeshkhali’, which is based on the massacre of thousands from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, who had taken refuge in Sainbari, Sandeshkhali and other areas of West Bengal in the 1970s.

Sainbari to Sandeshkhali

Marathi films included ‘Godavari’, ‘Funeral’ and ‘Bittersweet’, while ‘Dollu’, ‘Telendanda’, ‘Act 1978’ and ‘Neeli Hakki’ were the Kannada movies in this section.

The Hindi section was made up of ‘Eight Down Toofaan Mail’ – which had its world premiere at the UK Asian Film Festival in May as just ‘Toofaan Mail’ – see our interview with filmmaker and actor Akriti Singh. Other Hindi films were ‘Alpha Beta Gamma’, ‘Bharat’, ‘Prakriti Ka Balak’ and ‘Teen Adhyay’.

A Sanskrit film ‘Bhagavadajjukam’ and two Malayalam movies ‘Niraye Thathakalulla Maram‘ and ‘Sunny‘ received acclaim.

Another feature, the 35-minute long ‘Sunpat’, became the first Gharwali language film to be screened at the fest. The film throws light on the 1,500 ghost villages of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. These villages are mostly abandoned by their communities who have left in search of work and other opportunities.


Of the international films that played at IFFI, a few explored loneliness such as ‘Unbalanced’ by Argentine filmmaker Juan Baldana, which is about a character called Rodo, who’s inclined to write a book about influential economist Silvio Gesell, during the lockdown. Another film, ‘The Knocker’, dealt with a man’s solitary confinement.

There were films on social issues as well, such as the Assamese flick, ‘Boomba Ride’ – about a school with just one student, who uses a canoe as a mode of transport to get to his school; Assamese movie ‘Veerangana’ — which is about a female police unit tasked to fight crimes against women; ‘The Spell of Purple’ — is set in a region in Gujarat, where women are labelled as witches with the aim of grabbing their property


For the Bollywood crwod, actor Nushrratt Bharuccha’s horror comedy ‘Chhorii’ premiered to a packed house.

‘Dhamaka’, where actor Kartik Aaryan plays a news anchor, was also screened. At two separate masterclasses, director Shoojit Sircar spoke about his movie ‘Sardar Udham’ (we spoke to star Vicky Kaushal about his lead role) whereas actor Hrithik Roshan gave an insight into his profession to aspiring actors.

Fifteen international films also competed for honours. These included ‘Any Day Now’, which focuses on an Iranian family living in a refugee centre in Finland; ‘No Ground Beneath The Feat’ – the story of a man, who fights poverty and river erosion of his land, and ‘Interglade’, about three friends embarking on a road trip.

The closing film of the festival was Asghar Farhadi’s much acclaimed ‘A Hero’, which is about an imprisoned man trying to convince his creditors to withdraw a complaint. ACV covered it at its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in July this year (see here).

Ring Wandering

At National Development Film Corporation (NFDC) Film Bazaar , select filmmakers pitched their work to Indian and international producers, festival programmers, distributors, financiers and sales agents at the which was held online this year. Stories in Hindi, Gujarati, English, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Dzongkha (Bhutanese) and Nepali filma from countries such as India, USA, Bangladesh, France, Nepal, Bhutan and Singapore were selected for the five-day event (November 20-24).

My Mother’s Nose’, ‘Pankaali’, ‘Raavsaaheb’, ‘Safa, ‘Scotch’, ‘The Arrangements of Love’, ‘The Forgotten History’, ‘Ashwamedh’, ‘Bena, Blue’, ‘Bride Without Dowry’, ‘Chevittorama’, ‘Deoka’, ‘Ek ‘Mutthi Badal’, ‘Hashnouhana’, ‘Jolchhobi’, ‘Mathaka Wasthra’, ‘Mirpur Express’ were some of the movies that featured.

Among the talks was the continuing dearth of cinema screens in India – more have shut down following the pandemic and restrictions mostly lifted around the country. There were also sessions on the animation industry which is growing but has little formal support or formal structure and continues to see talent and some resources go abroad. Filmmaker Pan Nalin whose ‘Last Picture Show‘, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Festival this year, has international distribution with Italian and Japanese firms for his first major feature since ‘Angry Indian Goddesses‘ and ‘Samsara’. ACV saw the ‘Last Picture Show’ which is really an ode to the filmmakers’ childhood growing in Kathiawar, Gujarat.

Boomba Ride

25 Feature Films in the Indian Panorama
Kalkokkho, Nitantoi Sahaj Saral, Abhijaan, Manikbabur Megh, Sijou, Semkhor, 21st Tiffin, Eight Down Toofan Mail, Alpha Beta Gamma, Dollu, Taledanda, Act-1978, Neeli Hakki, Niraye Thathakalulla Maram, Sunny, Me Vasantrao, Bittersweet, Godavari, Funeral, Niwaas, Boomba Ride, Bhagavadjjukam, Koozhangal, Natyam and Dictionary.

20 Non-Feature Films in the Indian Panorama
Veerangana, Naad – The Sound, Sainbari To Sandeshkhali, Badal Sircar & the Alternative Theatre, Ved…The Visionary, Surmounting Challenges, Sunpat, The Spell of Purple, Bharat, Prakriti Ka Balak, Teen Adhyay, Bablu Babylon Se, The Knocker, Ganga-Putra, Gajra, Jugalbandi, Pabung Syam, Murmurs of the Jungle, Backstage, Witch and Sweet Biriyani.

Saving One Who was Dead

Golden Peacock Award For Best Film – Ring Wandering (Japan)
Silver Peacock for Best Director – Vaclav Kadrnka for Saving One Who Was Dead (Czech)
Best Actor Female- Angela Molina for Charlotte (Paraguay)
Best Actor Male -Jitendra Bhikulal Joshi for Godavari (India)
Best Debut Feature Film of a Director- Zahori directed by Mari Alessandrini (Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, France)
ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Award- Lingui – The Sacred Bonds was dead (France)
BRICS Film Festival
Best Film- Barakat (South Africa), The Sun above Me Never Sets (Russia)
Best Director Female- Lúcia Murat for Ana (Brazil)
Best Actor Female – Lara Boldorini for On Wheels (Brazil)
Best Actor Male- Dhanush for Asuran (India)

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture