Cine Central, the biggest and one of the oldest film societies in India, triggered of Kolkata's first ever international film festival in 1986 which was a much more uphill task filled with toothaches at that time than it is today. But Cine Central did it and gifted the city its first ever international film festival without any funding from any government organization. IBNS Correspondent Shoma A. Chatterji offers an insight into the fare this year that has been integrated into the Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) since 1998. The festival segment has now been re-christened International Forum of New Cinema (IFNC).
This year, the inaugural programme of the International Forum of New Cinema (IFNC) was a glorious affair because N.K. Narayanan, the Governor of West Bengal, came to inaugurate the festival and light the ceremonial lamp with the other luminaries. Mrinal Sen was Guest-in-Chief, Soumitra Chatterjee was Guest of Honour along with the chairman of the Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) Ranjit Mullick and Sabitri Chatterjee who was felicitated with the prestigious Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Bengali cinema over six decades.
Sabitri Chatterjee, while receiving the trophy and the plaque, said that though she has never acted in any film directed by Satyajit Ray, she felt blessed that she had at least been graced with an award bestowed in his name.
IFNC is screening three films on each day of the festival at the Metro Theatre in Kolkata which has a history of its own but is now in a pretty dilapidated condition.
Runway from Bangladesh, directed by the late Tareque Masud who recently passed away in a car crash, was the opening film. It has a powerful story but the poor acting by the main cast apart from the bad acoustics and visual quality of the screen spoilt the screening completely.
Runway is about Ruhul, a young boy who lives with his mother, grandfather and younger sister in a tenement near the runway in Dhaka. He is enticed by fundamentalists easily because of his frustration with his way of life. But he sees sense and comes back. Sound plays a significant role in the film to portray the irony of flying airplanes next to very poor Bangladeshis who are striving to just live on.
Among the countries from which films will be screened are - New Turkish Cinema, spotlights on French and Hungarian cinema, Focus on Dutch cinema, Glimpses into Korean and Mexican cinema, Homage to Tareque Masud and Michael Cacoyannis of Greece and two retrospectives of Czech filmmaker Jan Nemec and Taiwanese filmmaker Hsiao-Hsien-Hou.
(Shoma A Chatterji is a National Award winning film writer.)