As I walked around the Old GMC compound, I saw brief glimpses of beauty. In the black box, I fanboyed listening to Takashi Miike and Wagner Moura, I met Agnes Varda once again in the screening of Varda By Agnes (2019), I reconciled with Xavier Dolan in Matthias et Maxime (2019), I was introduced to Pedro Almodovar in Pain and Glory (2019), a rather late introduction to the maestro, I visited the lanes of Iewduh (2019) with Pradip Kurbah, I saw Gitanjali Rao’s Bombay Rose (2019) blossom by the banks of Mandovi, I struggled to keep myself awake as Hirokazu Koreeda unraveled The Truth (2019) and I no-showed almost twenty times.
The serpentine queues, the rush hour rides to catch the shows at venues sprawling several kilometers away from each other, and midnight wake-up alarms to book tickets online for the upcoming day is a consistent gossip among the delegates at the International Film Festival of India.. But there is so much more to the festival. Cinema as a medium of art, owing to the internet and technology, is more democratic today than anyone conceived it to be. Much like last year, I was astounded by the eclectic assortment of films on display here: Manju Borah’s indie gem from the low-hills of Arunachal Pradesh In the Land of Poison Women (2019), Dhondup Tsering’s Ama Khando (2019) from the cold desert of Mustang in Nepal, the car ride through Estonia in Marti Helde’s Scandinavian Silence (2019), Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s Still Human (2019) scrutinising the lives of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.
The Develop Your Film Festival programme writes of the purpose of film festivals in the 21st century, “it’s about sharing.Thanks to global digitalization, film festivals are now an exceptional tool for crossing communication channels from the most distant places. Film festivals are helping at the frontline of an increasingly polarized world. Speaking multiple languages, they give you the ability to hear a rich diversity of voices from the divided areas.” Whatever happens in the farthest places of the world, it occupies festival screens within an year. The information we get here is much more complex and nuanced than in TV news, and there is a chance to speak to characters or witnesses of the stories directly.
As the 50th edition of IFFI comes to a close, it leaves a sense of longing and euphoria among cine-vagrants who traverse hundreds of thousands of collective miles to experience this annual cultural extravaganza. For those of us who work at the festival, tomorrow is a return to our quotidian occupations, while to others it’s the beginning of the groundwork for the upcoming year. Though I see myself ardently rallying behind Martin Scorsese, I wouldn’t let go of this moment not quoting Tony Stark from Avengers: End Game (2019). “Part of the journey is the end.”
Read more from The Peacock: Issue 9 (2019) here: