KOCHI: The Regional International Film Festival of Kerala is currently underway in Kochi, offering Kochiites a chance to view award-winning and critically acclaimed movies. For movie lovers who appreciate world cinema, the event organised by Kerala State Chalachitra Academy and inaugurated by actor Mohanlal on April 1 is a must-visit.
Around 70 movies, including award-winning films Clara Sola, Camilla Comes Out Tonight and Avasa Vyooham, which received many laurels at the film fest in Thiruvananthapuram, are being screened at the five-day fest which will conclude on Tuesday.
“The audience loved Avasa Vyooham, an experimental film from director Krishand. It was one of the movies that got a standing ovation at the theatre,” said Mario Moiddino, head of the delegate committee of RIFFK.
“We expected around 3,000 delegates to show up. But we received more than 3,600 delegates, including students, in just the first four days. Surprisingly, many homemakers turned up to watch movies even late at night. After a busy day at home, they took the time out to watch international movies. Some of them came with their daughters on the weekend,” he added.
Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) executive Baiju Raj Chekavar said this year too, students were given a 50 per cent discount on delegate passes. “Discount was also available for people who work in the film field, like assistant directors. Over 7,000 people excluding delegates attended the event so far. More than 1,500 students have also been part of the regional fest till Monday. The response exceeded our expectations,” he said.
The organisers wanted RIFFK to stay longer in Kochi. “But we could rent the theatres for five days only. We are planning for longer regional screenings from next year, thanks to the overwhelming response,” Mario said.
Art house movies in theatre
Director Indu V S, who couldn’t attend IFFK in Thiruvananthapuram this year, said: “It has been a while since I have been able to see such movies on the big screen. After OTTs became mainstream, movies that could conventionally be called art films, like ‘Thinkalazhcha Nischayam’, stopped getting a theatre release. RIFFK was my chance to enjoy such powerful movies on the big screen.” Clara Sola by director Nathalie Alvarez Mesen, which won the Suvarna Chakoram for the best film at IFFK in the capital city, was an audience favourite in Kochi as well. On Sunday, people from all over the state came to watch the movie, some for a second time. “It is one of the best movies I have seen in a while. The remastered version of Kummatty stole my heart too. To be able to watch a cinematic masterpiece from the past in a theatre, with a live audience clapping and singing along, was a surreal experience,” said Indu. Krishand, director of Avasa Vyooham, was also at the Kochi festival, participating in an open forum on Saturday.
“It’s incredible to see the audience’s reaction and interact with them. Kochi’s festival carries the afterglow of IFFK from Thiruvananthapuram. A lot of people came to watch my movie, especially since it won awards,” says Krishand. After Avasa Vyooham, which portrays magical realism, the young director is now working on procedural crime comedy.
Student delegate Archana was in awe of her first film festival experience. “I couldn’t attend the IFFK in the capital city. But I am glad they screened select movies in Kochi. I loved the Argentine movie Camilla Comes Out Tonight. Its incredible story, cinematography and direction were inspiring. I could relate to it a lot,” she says.
Need more regional fests
Director Jeo Baby, whose movie The Great Indian Kitchen was screened at IFFK in Thiruvananthapuram, was at the RIFFK on Saturday. At the open forum, he said IFFK is offering a venue for experimental movies.
“My first IFFK was in 2003. It is a great place to experience world cinema. Conducting regional IFFKs is a good move by the academy. Ideally, the festival should travel to every district in Kerala, especially in rural areas. Watching international movies made in various parts of the world opens up an entire world in front of us. The movies give us an insight into various cultures and the problems of common people there. Cinema should be able to reach people everywhere,” he said. “It was a proud moment for me when the Great Indian Kitchen was screened at IFFK, a fest I have been loyally visiting every year,” Jeo said.
FEFKA’s Baiju added that this year will not see further regional screenings of the festival. They had conducted a regional screening in Thrissur a couple of years ago, but he said this year, the regional festivities will be limited to Kochi.
The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was hosted in Thiruvananthapuram in 1988 by the Directorate of Film Festivals of the Government of India. In 1996, the first IFFK was held in Kozhikode. The festival was organised by the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) until 1998, when the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy was established
More than movies
Apart from movie screenings, the festival also has open forums during evenings, featuring stalwarts of the film industry like directors and actors. On Tuesday, the forum is about setting up an Internal Complaints Committee in Malayalam cinema.