This year’s International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) has a very strong scent of France with a huge number of films produced and co-produced by them in various categories. The Country Index of the Festival Book stands testimony to this domination of France.
Be it Apichatpong Weerasethukal’s ‘Mekong Hotel’ or ‘Raul Ruiz’s ‘Night Across the Street’, the World Cinema section has a large number of films co-produced by France. This is apart from the French Films on Adolescence package and the retrospective on Alain Resnais, whose films have been associated with the French New Wave.
Nearly sixty films at the festival are French productions or co-productions. ‘’Oh, that is because France is a film-loving country. They promote film-making and it is not just about Cannes either. Cannes is definitely a significant factor but it works two ways,’’ said IFFK festival director Beena Paul Venugopal.
Although French is not an official language in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon, it is widely used in literature and films. Of the two Algerian films in Competition section, ‘Le repenti’, on Islamist groups and terror, has been co-produced by France. Both the Moroccan films in the World Cinema category, both the Egyptian films, and the lone one from Lebanon are supported by France.
Same is the case with all films of contemporary master Pierre Yameogo at the festival, except one. But that is no surprise, for he, like many other film students across the world, perfected his art in France.
While many film-students try their best to go to Paris to fine-tune their skills, Beena Paul said that was not the only way co-productions happened. Her views were echoed by Chalachitra Academy secretary Manojkumar, who said that France, as a culturally rich country, has always encouraged art, be it literature, painting, photography or cinema.
While having a wing of the Alliance Francaise helped the Academy to get two packages via the French Embassy, the rest were all hand-picked by the programmers who curated the festival, he said. ‘’France has a strong film community and the society was one that always promoted parallel films. Even film-makers from Kerala have been supported by France,’’ said Manojkumar.
Though the number of such film-makers from Kerala are limited, France has been generous in the case of film-makers from Francophone countries like Belgium, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Senegal, Seychelles, Congo and so on.
Film critic C S Venkiteswaran said the French are very outgoing and very good at marketing films and this could be one reason for the apparent increase in French flavour to the festival. ‘’The other reason could be our way of sourcing the films for the festival,’’ he said.