Started way back in 1952, the first ever IFFI was organized by the Films Division, Government of India, with the patronage of the first Prime Minister of India – Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) aims at providing a common platform to the cinemas across the world to project the excellence of the art of film making. This India’s most prestigious festival is also the first International Film Festival held anywhere in Asia.
The inaugural edition at Bombay (now called as Mumbai) started off at a positive note, with the United States participating with 40 feature films and about a hundred short films. The festival was subsequently taken to the cities of Madras, Delhi and Calcutta in the next few years. With the induction of Competition Category during its 3rd edition, The Sri Lankan film Gamperaliya became the first recipient of the Golden Peacock Award. By the 5th edition, IFFI became the only Indian member of FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films) and was classified as an “A” grade festival. Post this, the festival travelled to various cities across the country during which the non-competitive, vernacular Filmotsavs were merged to IFFI.
The efforts of the Government of Goa under the leadership of the then Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar brought IFFI to Goa from Trivandrum in 2004. Initially, the state had to face a lot of cynicism due to the lack of infrastructure to cater to a festival of this magnitude and the weak film culture that prevailed back then. But, contrast to people’s doubts, a large number of delegates poured in and made its first edition a success. Sooner, the development of Infrastructure like the new Patto bridge and INOX multiplex steered a clear path for Goa to continue hosting IFFI as an annual competitive festival.
For few years, screenings used to happen at different cities along with other cultural programs and laser shows in open spaces like Miramar Beach and Caranzalem grounds. The Goa Music festival was once a part of IFFI too. In the due course, the Festival’s agenda got simplified and screenings in other locations were stopped.
The once sceptical scenario of Goa’s film culture changed with a number of Konkani films getting made every year. There are film-clubs flourishing in Goa and the weekly releases at the multiplex are met with a lot of enthusiasm. In the last 13 years of its existence in Goa, around 12 Konkani films have made their way to the Panaroma category of Indian cinema in IFFI till now. This has also invited the interests of various other vernacular films and artists to come out and participate in this category and gain a world-wide recognition.
With 48 years of existence and over a decade’s presence in Goa, IFFI has grown massively in both quantitative and qualitative terms. In 1952, it started with the participation of 23 countries with over two hundred films’ entries. This year, the numbers have quadrupled to a whopping 1000 entries from over 100 countries across the world.
IFFI which was an eleven day siesta in 2015 has been reduced to 9 this time. The lesser number of festival hours will be compensated with lesser repeat screenings and restrict this option only for films that prove to be extremely popular with delegates. This will promote a healthy competition among the top films that are eyeing for these slots.
Over the years, IFFI has witnessed renowned personalities from across the country and the world coming down to attend this. The festival has had celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, A.R.Rahman, Ilayaraja, Salman Khan, Shekhar Kapur, Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar and many more as a Chief Guest and Speaker over the years. The International Film Festival of India has also the likes of Gen Y Film Personalities like Rajkummar Rao, Radhika Apte, Bhumi Pednekar, Siddharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Sushant Singh Rajput, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh and so many more over the recent past.
Apart from the people, some of the most critically-acclaimed movies that IFFI has been showcased in the past 5 years include 120 BPM, Bicycle Thieves, Miracle in Milan, Rome, Open City from Italy. Yukiwarisoo (Japan), The Dancing Fleese (UK), The River (USA) and The Fall of Berlin (USSR). Some of the art films that performed well commercially, like Life of Pi, Mandela:Long Walk To Freedom, The Man Who Knew Infinity and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, have also found their place at the IFFI Premiere screenings.
IFFI celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year with a bigger showbiz and a better zeal from film artists around the globe, at the grand 50th edition, from the November 20th to November 28th, 2019. Make sure you do not miss it by registering yourself as a festival delegate right now. Hurry!
Here are a few glimpses from the past…