Published: 23rd January 2019
Indian Film Festival of Bhubaneswar (IFFB): Everything you need to know
This time the Indian Film Festival of Bhubaneswar is not only offering screentime to select student films, but will also award those which strike a chord with their jury
All roads will lead to the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre for cinema lovers as the Indian Film Festival of Bhubaneswar (IFFB), the Film Society of Bhubaneswar's flagship event, is back again to regale audiences with Indian cinema and to celebrate it. But we are particularly excited for the tenth edition of IFFB, which begins on January 24 and goes on till January 30, because every day of the festival begins with the screening of student films (from 10 am - 11 am at ORC Auditorium).
As many as 75 student films from across the country were submitted for the competition category of the festival and though only two movies will receive the prize, a select few are being screened every day for an hour. This being a matter of pride for any student filmmaker, the films were carefully curated by Abhishek Parija, one of the core members of the society. A three-panel jury including National Award winner Subas Das, designer and researcher Pankaja Sethi and renowned artist Ramahari Jena will choose and declare the winners.
A section on India Masters focussed on the works of Ritwik Ghatak, Girish Kasaravalli and Saaji Karun will also be conducted
Keeping them young
Applications for the competition category commenced on December 25 and ended on January 11. They received films from several states — from as far away as Arunachal Pradesh to Tamil Nadu — out of which one movie will win Best Film and another, a Special Jury Award. Parija, while watching the films, looked for those that had cinematic value and were flawless in their own right.
So, what were the patterns he noticed while watching the movies? "I thought that a few filmmakers who portrayed stories which were feminist or anti-establishment in nature were not honest and ended up seeming gimmicky," he said. While others seemed stylistically stuck, "In the sense that though a few chose to set their narratives in rural areas, they chose to tell stories which weren't about their people or culture. It was more for the stylistic experience," he reveals.
This time, last year: Scenes from IFFB conducted last year | (Pic: IFFB)
And what about Odia films they received? Sadly, he states that not even one made the cut. 'What does one expect?', he asks us in return. With just one film institute in the state, there is hardly any film literacy, he says. "There are no unions, subsidies or state infrastructure provided by the state government," rues Parija. Speaking about the Odia film industry, he points out that most of the audience prefers watching Hindi or English movies as Odia movies are mindless entertainment. "Just because they are speaking in Odia doesn't make it an Odia film," says the student of Jadavpur University who is pursuing an MA in Film Studies. Reflecting on the Odisha Film Development Corporation, which recently appointed actor and host Kuna Tripathy as Chairman, he says, "We need to bring in many more filmmakers, people who really know cinema into the structure to make it successful."
Some of the movies that will be showcased and their origin stories are detailed below. Check it out!
First glance: The poster of Bobby Sarma Baruah's Mishing | (Pic: Bobby Sarma Baruah)
We hear that quite a few had approached the Sahitya Akademi Award-winner and author Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi for his approval to turn his novel Mishing into a movie, but it was Bobby Sarma Baruah, her body of work rather, that convinced him to give the green signal to this particular filmmaker. And as a result, we have Mishing, which will be screened on January 27 at the festival and has done the rounds of several film festivals as well. The movie is also a quest to preserve the Sherdukpen language spoken in Arunachal Pradesh by a handful of people.
All smiles: Filmmaker Bobby Sarma Baruah is currently focused on her PhD | (Pic: Bobby Sarma Baruah)
So why did this Assamese filmmaker want to make a movie in another language? "I wanted to preserve the language. Our country is so rich and diverse, but some culture and tradition is on the brink of extinction and I wanted to do my bit for at least one such language," says Baruah, whose debut feature film Adomya was screened at 15 film festivals around the world. But it was the challenge of this movie that was most exciting for the filmmaker who graduated from writing poems and short stories in childhood to photography, making short films and finally, feature films.
The movie was released last year, in 2018. It is 75-minutes long
Mishing refers to the spirit of dying people which visits close ones and the movie itself is not what one would call a "mass movie," says the indie filmmaker, but she also adds, "This is the kind of movie that people need to watch. Otherwise, this language will die and along with it, their culture and tradition. Art in terms of books, films, drama and more needs patronage so that cultures can be preserved," she says.
Heart of a Dog
Poster talk: The poster of Sreekrishnan KP's Heart of a Dog | (Pic: Sreekrishnan KP)
Another adaptation of a book, but this time with a twist, is Heart of a Dog directed by Sreekrishnan KP. Incidentally, a book with the same name was published in 1925 by Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov. What is striking about this indie movie is the use of mixed mediums with the movie like animation, graphics and a lot more. "Even the treatment of the soundscape for the film was done differently. People can truly enjoy an explosion of audio-visuals that is very interesting," says the director. One look at the trailer, and we can affirm this fact. Apart from being an art curator, Sreekrishnan is a voracious reader. "But I have always been a visual person, sometimes I don't even have the complete script for my movie — it's more about the visuals," says the director, who started his filmmaking career with a Tamil feature film.
Speaking about this movie, he informs us that he shot this movie with a small crew of ten. It was the inter-textual imagery that demanded more work. Truly breaking conventional storytelling techniques with its hybrid mixed media approach, the director says that the story was such that it allowed for this kind of approach and an interpretation which goes beyond what the author introduces us to. As someone who has started film societies and assisted documentary filmmakers with their work, Sreekrishnan says, "Though a lot of platforms emerged to watch movies, film festivals offer a platform for the exchange of ideas and meeting people. The joy of watching a movie together is something else," he says.
In his heart: Sreekrishnan's movie, Heart of a Dog is 120-minutes long | (Pic: Sreekrishnan KP)
Look at it: The poster of Mukul Haloi's film Loralir Sadhukatha | (Pic: Mukul Haloi )
Assamese filmmaker Mukul Haloi says that his horizons opened up when he was studying at Delhi University. "I was exposed to world cinema and having always been a writer, I realised that cinema could be a great medium to tell a story. But because Indian cinema is usually industry-based, for those of us who did not want to go down that road, a certain kind of learning was very important," says Haloi, which brought him to FTII. He credits the Institute for giving him a worldview. And though he had a global perspective, he still wanted to tell stories of his own motherland, as a result, he made Loralir Sadhukatha.
The movie Loralir Sadhukatha is 69-minutes long and was released last year
This movie is based in 1990s Assam, where the United Liberation Front of Assam was struggling for independence from India. "My immediate reality or the past is the source of my films, which is very important for me because if someone from Bollywood would do a story on Assam's insurgency, they would be weighed down by the need of being diplomatically correct," says the filmmaker. The major challenge that Haoli faced while shooting the movie was compressing the movement that spanned across decades into minutes. But the 69-minute Assamese movie still does a commendable job.
Looking at you: Mukul Haloi's A Letter to Home is also an acclaimed film | (Pic: Mukul Haloi)
One fact that Haloi is happy about is that, "People are going back to their native to tell their stories. It's decentralised now, everything is not concentrated in Bombay," he says, quoting the example of Assamese filmmaker Rima Das, whose movie Village Rockstars was India's official nominee for the Oscars. He implores filmmakers too, "Look around yourself, at your locality and family and explore that and tell those stories."
Along with films
Apart from film screenings, there were two workshops which proved beneficial for students -
- Printed text to Moving Image
- Understanding gaze and visual desire
- Fascinating fascism: Cinema and Propaganda
For more on them, click on facebook.com/IndianFilmFestivalBhubaneswar.FSB