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#WhyIFFI?

Posted On: 08 NOV 2022 3:02PM by PIB Mumbai

#IFFIWood, November 8, 2022

What, IFFI, did we say? Yes, surely, we hope you are aware of the filmic celebration which is knocking on the door of our hearts, of your heart too?

Yes, IFFI, the International Film Festival of India, has been founded more than 70 years ago, in 1952, and is being held annually in the month of November. Held in Goa for the first time in 2004, the festival has since found a home in the picturesque tourist state, returning here every year. And in 2014, Goa was declared the permanent venue for IFFI.

And hope you do know, that IFFI is conducted by none other than the government. Yes, the festival is held every year by the Government of India in collaboration with the Government of Goa, the host state.

So, naturally, the question arises, as we believe it has already arisen in your mind: #WhyIFFI?

#WhyIFFI?

Yes, why do we conduct IFFI? Why do we conduct any film festival for that matter? And in particular, why does the government itself conduct film festivals? And yes, coming back, why does the Government conduct IFFI in particular?

Of course, we are not asking these questions rhetorically, we are not in any way suggesting, as some people reading this are likely to doubt, that we should not be conducting IFFI. Rather, we are asking these questions in order to get to the roots of why we do what we do – to together learn, discover and rediscover the mission behind this great international film festival conducted by the Government of the world’s largest democracy.

And the question is not just about conducting IFFI. Indeed, conducting the festival is not an end in itself, is it?

So, this naturally leads to these questions as well, regarding public participation, engagement and contribution. Why does the public participate in IFFI? What do they look forward to, what meaning do they derive from the festival?

And who are the audiences of the film festival, of IFFI? Who should they be? Is it filmmakers, the film fraternity, film lovers and film connoisseurs? Or is it others as well? Is it for the lay person, “the man and woman on the street”? Or is it for a niche audience alone?

Let us Travel to IFFI 1: Where it All Began

As we continue to reflect on these specific questions, let us go, as we always must, to the beginning. Let us listen to what C. M. Agarwala, Organising Committee Chairperson of the very first edition of IFFI, has had to say.

“When the proposal to hold an International Film Festival in India was first mooted, a question that was frequently asked was: What is the object of such a festival, what purpose will it serve? To that, the reply was two-fold: First, a film festival enables film audiences in the country in which the festival is held to see the best pictures made in all the participating film-producing countries; secondly, an International Film Festival affords an opportunity to those engaged in the motion-picture industries of the participating countries to meet and discuss matters of common concern to all of them, to compare notes on the progress of this form of art and to concert plans for its future development.”

 

Yes, that is right, these are the words of the organizer of the maiden edition of one of Asia’s oldest film festivals, conducted for the first time in 1952, in what was then Bombay. He said these words during his welcome address, delivered on January 24, 1952.

The Chairperson goes on to reflect on the towering influence of the cinematic medium on our relationships with each other as human beings, on our cultural, educational and political fields.

“Among the films to be exhibited at this festival are some which will demonstrate how far the motion-picture, which started as a new form of entertainment, has invaded the field of human relations, the cultural, educational and political fields. In the field of education, in particular, it has opened new vistas, the importance of which can even now be only faintly discerned. In the cultural field it has played, and is playing a: significant part ‘in laying the foundations of international culture. But in no field of human relationships is the motion-picture of more importance than in the field of international relations; Its power-for good or evil in regard to the cultural and commercial relations of nations is apparent to all. The connection between the motion picture and the national attitude of the people of a nation towards those, of other nations should be no less clear.”

 

The Chairperson has underlined the power of cinema to foster mutual goodwill and understanding among peoples of different nations and how it “offers the beginning of a world-wide literature”.

“Real international co-operation in the making and distribution of motion pictures, including the interchange of men and ideas, can but result in mutual goodwill and understanding. Every motion picture that is sent abroad to be seen by the people of other lands is an ambassador sent by the people of the producing country to the masses of the world. It speaks a universal Language which can be understood by all. People who are separated by language are avid, to learn from the screen what they cannot learn from the radio or the press about their fellows in other Lands. And what they learn from the screen helps to banish inter-racial distrust and hatreds.

Because it speaks a universal language the motion picture offers the beginning of a world-wide literature ~ a literature which is constantly recording all or nearly all the activities of mankind. For our entertainment and information, it reproduces the past, vivifies the present, and with regard to tomorrow, it enables us "To dip into the future, far as human eye can see, See the vision of the world and all the wonders that will be”.”

 

In welcoming delegates to the first ever edition of the International Film Festival of India, the organizer observed that international film festivals ought to play an important part in developing plans for international exchange, so that the films which a country sends to the international audiences do not misrepresent the way of life of its people and their attitude toward the great problems which assail civilization.

This is how the Chairperson concluded the address: by coming back to the grand purpose which inspires the international film festival of the great nation that is India.

“In conclusion, I remind you that the present festival, the first. of its kind in India, or indeed in Asia, is not competitive but representative. Here we meet not in rivalry, but to view and appreciate each other’s art, skill and progress; to understand each other and each other's problems; to learn something of each other’s ways of life; and to promote a richer cultural life among the peoples of the world.”

 

Let us know how going down the memory lane, into these depths of inspiration, makes you feel. Does this touch a chord, help make you fall in love with IFFI and with films and life, all over again? No? Do let us know how we can better celebrate IFFI.

And of course, do also let us know - #WhyIFFI? You can send us your responses at iffi-pib[at]nic[dot]in; better still, share them with the world, by tweeting them out (do remember to use the hashtag #WhyIFFI, so we don’t miss your answer).

And by the way, all relevant updates of 53rd IFFI can be obtained on the festival website www.iffigoa.org, on PIB website (pib.gov.in), social media accounts of IFFI on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and also on social media handles of PIB Goa. Stay tuned, let us keep drinking copiously from the cup of cinematic celebration…and also sharing the joy of it.

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