Sunday, January 11, 2009

Missed @ IFFK 2008

The festival was loads of fun. not the just the films themselves but the whole atmosphere and the inevitable discussions and heated debates about the films, the popcorn and what-not.

In the midst of a busy week, with office work piling up despite being on vacation and with preparations for a week-long trip to Lucknow, I couldn't watch as many as movies as I would have loved to. Some of the notable misses were The Speed of Light, Colors Passion, Firaaq, Blindness and Laila's Birthday.

I was pretty happy to find out that IFFK had made a significant impact on the blogosphere and not just through domestic blogs. People like Juan have written about IFFK and their experiences there. However, I was a little bit disappointed by what I felt was relatively scanty coverage of what is Kerala's top international cultural event on many Kerala-specific blogs. A lot more was devoted to a few casual remarks made by the Kerala CM at around the same time.

The one thing which a lot of people, not just me, would have missed is the much talked-about "permanent venue" for IFFK. Last year, the buzz was that Tagore Theatre would be converted into a multiplex for the festival. Earlier, similar proposals were afoot for Kalabhavan and Kanakakunnu, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, these seem to vanish as soon as the curtains fall on the last show of each year's IFFK.

While it is a nice idea having venues spread across the city from the point of view of ensuring that the many visitors from outside Trivandrum get a chance to see a significant part of it, the need for a permanent venue with multiple screens is an undeniable one. This will ease the travel woes of one and all, as well as spare many a hapless viewer from having to run desperately from one venue to the other to catch successive shows. Even with a multiplex, there would need to be more than one venue given the increasing number of films screen each year (this year we had nine screens).

The reasons for the ambitious plans for a permanent venue getting scuppered are many. The Tagore Theatre is a venue for many a cultural event, the most famous being the Soorya Arts Festival - Asia's largest cultural event. So there was a lot of resistance in converting the historic venue to a multiplex, while the greens put paid to the proposal at Kanakakunnu. And of course, there is that reason which sinks most Government project, the pronounced lack of money to put where the mouth is!

The most feasible solution would be to design a BOT project for the same. A perfect locale will be the Tagore Theatre campus itself where there is sufficient space for a multiplex and mall. The multiplex/mall operator is given the land on lease and constructs and operates the facility with the condition that it will be made available for IFFK and other film events every year. This will convert the Tagore Theatre into a true world-class cultural complex. Plans had been floated in 2005 for creating such a facility but it had failed to take off due to stiff resistance from some of the city's cultural big-wigs. This is a win-win solution which will benefit the film industry as a whole and provide a world-class venue for a world-class film festival.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this idea.

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Thanks for your comment, I will take a look at it and put it up at the earliest.