The Kolkata Film Festival has lost a chunk of its funding this year, but there are some noteworthy and controversial entries
The 16th annual Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) which starts on November 10 and ends on November 17, has got off to a bad start even before the first film has been screened. The festival, part-funded by the government of West Bengal, had a budget of Rs 1.3 crore last year. This year that figure has come down to just Rs 80 lakh.
“There has been massive cost cutting this year. But we have tried to focus on quality by picking just 127 films, compared to 226 films last year,” says Nilanjan Chatterjee, chief executive officer of Nandan, the state government-sponsored cinema hall-and-cultural centre which is one of the main venues for KFF screenings.
Hopefully the truncated festival will not put off the world cinema aficionados in Kolkata who throng the venues and eagerly wait in hour-long queues to buy tickets for the films.
The major attraction at this year’s festival will be Sikkim, Satyajit Ray’s controversial documentary which will be screened for the first time.
Ray was commissioned to make the 60-minute documentary in 1971 by the then ruler of Sikkim, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, and his American wife Hope Cook.
Five years later, the Indian government banned the film. The ban was lifted this September, after nearly 40 years. “We have received the DVD from the Censor Board along with permission to screen the documentary,” says Chatterjee.
Ray’s documentary is expected to be a huge crowd-puller, so there will be screenings on all days of the festival and at all the venues.
Ramananda Sengupta, the veteran cinematographer who was the operating cameraman for The River, Jean Renoir’s film on India, will inaugurate the KFF.
Of Love and Other Demons, Costa Rican director Hilda Hidalgo’s adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel of the same name, will be the inaugural film. Films from 35 countries will be screened at this year’s KFF.
This year is the centenary of Akira Kurosawa’s birth, and KFF is organising a tribute to the great Japanese director, featuring eight of his films.
Four feature films on adaptations of Rabindranath Tagore’s novels will also be screened to mark his 150th birth anniversary.