KOLKATA: The 23rd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), India's second oldest film festival, rolls back into the eastern metropolis on Friday, welcoming world cinema, attracting the finest of talents and embracing fresh cinematic experiments.
Beginning with a star-studded inaugural on Friday, the gala event, hosted by the West Bengal government, will screen an assemblage of 143 films spanning 53 countries under 16 different categories till November 17.
Stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan will be present at the inaugural ceremony. Tamil film icon Kamal Haasan and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt are also slated to attend the ceremony, to be presided over by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Britain will be the focus country this year in commemoration of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 with as many as 13 of its films part of the week-long celeberation.
Headlining the British highlight in a retrospective are six films of acclaimed English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom. "Welcome to Sarajevo", "Trishna", "The Claim" are part of the film fest roster.
"Lady Macbeth", "Adult Life Skills" and "Sea Sorrow" are slotted in the contemporary British films while the classics is dominated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" among others.
Icons of Indian cinema Tom Alter, Om Puri and Ramananda Sengupta will be remembered through rich tributes.
Three films will be showcased in memory of cinematographer Sengupta ("Headmaster") and actors Tom Alter ("Shatranj Ke Khiladi") and Om Puri ("Sadgati").
Promising the best of world cinema, the organisers have brought Iranian film maker Mostafa Taghizadeh's "Yellow" (2017) and French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's "The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company".
"Yellow" opens the festival.
The screening of "The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company" is significant as this will be the film's first Indian screening. The 1986 film, made for television, was restored and released in October this year in France.
A special tribute section has been devoted to 10 well-known filmmakers such as award-winning Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu ("Clair Obscur"), French auteurs Arnaud Desplechin ("Ismael's Ghosts" starring Marion Cotillard) and Claire Denis (Juliette Binoche headlined "Bright Sunshine In") as also South Korean director and Cannes veteran Hong Sang-soo ("The Day After").
Stressing on innovation, this year the fest introduces Indian languages competition category as also 'Unheard India: Rare Indian Languages' section featuring eight films in as many languages (Monpa, Konkani, Kodava, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, Khasi and Chakma).
The list includes Manju Borah's "Songs of the Horned Owl" (Bodo) and Ahsan Majid's "Sonam", the first feature made in Monpa dialect of the Indo-Tibetan branch of languages.
To give a fillip to the Bengali film industry, the festival will host the premiere of three Bengali films including acclaimed playwright and West Bengal IT Minister Bratya Basu-starrer "Baranda".
A package of 12 National Award-winning films ("Bisorjon", "Dashakriya" and others) has been pegged as "must-watch" by the organisers.
A contemporary Moroccan cinema package encapsulating six films including "The 5th String" -- which won special mention of the jury honour at the National Film Festival of Morocco, Tangier, 2011 -- is also in the programme.
Six films of Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, one of Thailand's most celebrated working directors will be screened. Three Thailand National Film Association Awards winner "Fun Bar Karaoke" is among them.
As for the competitive section, the women's director's competition has been replaced with 'Innovation in Moving Images' with a prize money of Rs 51 lakh for the best film and Rs 21 lakh for the best director.
On schedule are no less than 14 films including German-Austrian venture "Uncle Vanya", Bangladeshi filmmaker Abu Sayeed's "Death of A Poet", and Argentinian outing "A Sort of A Family".
In a toast to cinematic technique, an exposition of original equipment used by the Lumiere brothers, auteur Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak has been planned.
The Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture will be given by Rachel Dwyer, professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London.
A total of 93 foreign language films will be showcased through the festival and 50 from India.
The films would be screened across 12 venues in the city.