In 2002, Pune was held in high esteem for having found cinematic charm with the first edition of the Pune International Film Festival. Twelve years later, this beautiful place, also known as the ‘Oxford of the East’ stands with its head held high as the city’s celluloid fete is coronated with about 200 films traveling from a multitude of countries. And that which breaks bounds of ethnic diversity and linguistic multiplicity is passion for cinema!
The cine-goers witnessed the inaugural ceremony on January 9, 2014 that opened with Amos Gitai’s Israeli film, Ana Arabia. The film allows its viewer to move around dilapidated shacks that form the location of this masterpiece. It is an account of a day spent in the life of a journalist, Yael who visits a Jew-Arab neighborhood to discover warmth, stories and the beauty of coexistence amongst the few odd characters she comes across. The filmmaker’s conviction was received well by the audience since it was a one-sequence shot without any evidence of a cut. This distinct nature of filming worked in its favor and was much-talked about in the festival circuit.
PIFF 2014 had delegates, invitees, press and media and volunteers gather at seven venues across the city where the films were screened over the span of a week from January 9- January 16. The entrants for the Marathi Competition saw some of the best films competing which included Aditya Sarpotdar’s Narbachi Wadi, that played across theaters for more than 50 days after it released in September last year. Director-duo Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Suktankar’s labor of love Astu-So Be It portrays the consequences of the decisions we make and its impact on the lives of many around us. The screening was graced by the film’s cast and crew that had the exceedingly talented Dr. Mohan Agashe accompanied by Iravati Harshe who form the principle cast of the film. This category also included 72 Miles Ek Pravas, Maunraag, Tapaal and the soon-to-be released thriller drama Rege. Director Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry that releases in February this year not only received a standing ovation after its screening, but also compiled winner in more than one category.
Apart from showcasing gems in the world competition section, the film festival also had masterclasses organized for its delegates who wished to have a deeper understanding of the medium of cinema and the business of movie-making. The list of films shown as a part of the event had creativity pouring in from Iran, Japan, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Egypt, Poland, Iceland, Germany, Italy, USA and many more countries including films made in its homeland. The mascot who added charm to the signature tune for PIFF 2014 was Charlie Chaplin with the dazzling red Puneri turban.
Global cinema, which is the chief genre at all film festivals had more than 80 films which also included recent Hollywood releases like Captain Philips and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The most-appreciated in global cinema were Blue is the Warmest Color, Hush! Girls Don’t Scream, LFO, Mother I Love you, XL, along with a large list of picks that were visual indulgences par excellence.
The movie fiesta for viewers had Country in Focus content from South Korea, France, Taiwan and Israel. The Band’s Visit by director Bikur Ha-Tizmoret was widely praised for its wondrous ability to share a well-written story.
Retrospective division featured the works of Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Benoit Jacquot, Billy Wilder, Federico Fellini, Goran Paskaljevic and Istvan Szabo. The Indian Cinema gala had feature presentations coming from every corner of the country. While Rituparno Ghosh’s Satyanweshi and Dahan were played as a homage to the maestro, Apur Panchali and Meghe Dhaka Tara were works of recent times from Bengal. Malayalam feature Kanyaka Talkies was a high point of discussion amongst the audience who watched the film.
Other categories featuring movies directed by the old and the new were Gems from NFAI, Special Screening NFDC, Tributes and Marathi Cinema Today.
The week-long movie fanfare that started with Vinod Khanna, Hridaynath Mangeshkar and Adoor Gopalakrishnan being felicitated for outstanding contribution to Indian Cinema came to an end with the closing ceremony that had the jury declaring winners in competition sections. Narbachi Wadi was given the award for best music direction, along with an extended list of films that won awards in various categories. The stalwarts, Fandry from India and Papuza from Poland emerged winners, bagging the maximum number of awards. Dr. Jabbar Patel, director PIFF closed the ceremony by promising its delegates and guests of a bigger and better film festival in the year to come.
By Soham Bhattacharyya