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IFFI still facing teething problems over Goa shift

Panjim, Dec 1 (IANS) Faced with the pressures of shifting its venue from the national capital to the much smaller Goa, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is still working towards winning friends and influencing people in the state.

2007-12-01T08:08:00Z

Panjim, Dec 1 (IANS) Faced with the pressures of shifting its venue from the national capital to the much smaller Goa, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is still working towards winning friends and influencing people in the state.

IFFI's attempt to recreate the Cannes film festival in India began in November 2004 with the shifting of the venue to this former Portuguese colony, known for being a holidaymaker's paradise filled with beaches and an interesting mix of food and music.

Goa's main problem is that it doesn't have much of a film culture of its own. The shifting of the film festival here has also been afflicted by political problems because opinions tend to get sharply polarised in the state.

When IFFI first came to Goa in 2004, the supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were its big fans. Now that that party is in opposition, it is the ruling Congress that is trying to make the most of the event, while allies and supporters of the BJP are criticising it.

Goa is also getting squeezed between the various Indian regional film industries, a few of which are for Goa being the venue for IFFI while others believe their own region could play a better host.

Bollywood appears to be largely in favour of the festival being hosted in Goa. However, regional Indian film industries based in Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata appear not so well disposed to the festival being held here.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a national level trade body that believes the money, rather than the entertainment, side of films is important, largely appears to be supportive of Goa as the venue.

Central government employees, themselves a harried lot having to cope with this small state's stretched infrastructure, sometimes show their dislike of having to work on a festival being held in Goa rather than in New Delhi.

But for their Goa government counterparts, IFFI is an occasion for some colour coming to the state capital. With congestion on the streets less here, the complaints are fewer too.

'It's a good thing that congestion is under control,' said John Aguiar, a government servant.

Goa also has the challenge of coping with the difficulties of making its infrastructure at par with venues of other international film festivals, raising money for the event, and pulling off things without too much inefficiency amidst the growing number of impatient fans and film buffs thronging the festival.

This year the state has attempted to increase the number of seats available to audiences and extend screenings to a few more theatres. Also, the process of registration for both delegates and mediapersons has been made online, which speeded up things. But the system has also run into some technical glitches.

'Where machines were in control, the efficiency has been enhanced. Where people were running things, the inefficiency showed,' said Alito Siqueira, a lecturer of sociology at Goa University.

The government has announced that street carnival-style fanfare would be minimised during IFFI 2007, which began here last week.

This is seen as being important to avoid dislocations and traffic-jams in this small state capital of barely 50,000 inhabitants. The population doubles during the film festival due to the influx of bureaucrats and members of the film fraternity.

Meanwhile, the Entertainment Society of Goa, the organisation that has been entrusted with the responsibility of making the local preparations for the event, announced it would organise a series of competitions in time for IFFI.

It said IFFI this year would create 'talent platforms' for Goa with film-related competitions to encourage local participation.

These competitions would include a lyric writing contest. Participants would have to submit a single entry of their original lyrics in one language among English, Hindi, Konkani and Marathi.

There would also be a multi-lingual film story competition, a music composition competition, a photo competition to shoot unknown locations in scenic Goa, and even a floor-painting competition depicting film personalities.

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