IFFK ends: ‘Jermal’ and ‘About Elly’ share top honours

iffk The Indonesian film ‘Jermal’ and the Iranian film ‘About Elly’ share top honours at the 14th IFFK (International Film Festival of Kerala), which concluded at Thiruvananthapuram yesterday.
The awards:

  • ‘Jermal’, directed by Ravi Barwani and ‘About Elly’, directed by Asghar Farhadi, have been chosen to share the Golden Crow Pheasant (Suvarna Chakoram).
  • ‘True Noon’ from Tadjikistan, directed by Nosir Saidov, bagged the Silver Crow Pheasant Award (Rajata Chakoram) for the best director and ‘My Secret Sky’ from South Africa, directed by Madoda Ncayiyana, the Silver Crow Pheasant Award for the best debut director.
  • ‘True Noon’ also bagged the Audience award, being voted the best film by the delegates who took part in the festival.
  • The Marathi film ‘Harischandrachi Factory’, directed by Paresh Mokashi, got the Hassankutty Award for the best Indian debut director while Ranjith’s ‘Kerala Cafe’ got the NETPAC Award for the best Malayalam film.
  • ‘A Fly in Ashes’ by Argentinean filmmaker Gabriela David got the FIPRESCI Award for the best film).
  • ‘Paththaam Nilayile Theevandi’, directed by Joshy Mathew won the FIPRESCI Award for the best Malayalam film.
  • ‘Jermal’ directed by Ravi Bharwani was awarded the NETPAC Award for the best Asian film in the competition section.

The festival
The IFFK, which has won over the years a reputation for itself, got on to its 14th editing with veteran filmmaker Mrinal Sen lighting the inaugural lamp on Dec 11 and the Turkish film, ‘A Step into Darkness,’ directed by Atil Inaq being screened as the inaugural film.

More than 160 films were screened, in different sections, in eight theatres in Thiruvananthapuram. The competition section had 14 entries, including two Malayalam films- Priyanandanan’s ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’ and Madhu Kaithapram’s ‘Madhyavenal’.

The retrospective sections included films by Mexican director Arturo Ripstein, Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse, French filmmaker Jaques Tati and Indian filmmakers  Mrinal Sen and Lohithadas. There was a package of films by Italian director Francesco Rosi and homage section dedicated to the memories of Murali, Madhavikutty, Shobhana Parameshwaran Nair, Rajan.P.Dev, K.P.Thomas and Adoor Bhavani.

The contemporary masters section had films by Raul Peck and Pen-ek Ratanaruang while there were Country focus films on Cuba and films from contemporary Africa. There was also a section for debut films and a package called ’50 years of French New Wave’.

A first hand account

IFFK has been part of my life-plan ever since it began in Thiruvananthapuram. Of course the IFFK had its beginnings in Kozhikode in a small way, but I have been proud to be a part of all the editions of IFFK that has been held in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram, the city with which I have had a strong emotional bonding, like many of my friends and peers.

Well, when I took the early train from Kochi on the 12th of December, aiming to make as much of the film festival as possible in the four days that were at my disposal, I didn’t know that the train would be a bit late and I’d have to miss out on one show due to problems relating to procuring my entry pass for the fest. Anyway, with timely help provided by the Chalachitra Academy Secretary Dr.K.S.Sreekumar (who’s also the Executive Director of the festival) and others, I managed to get my pass in hand, all laminated and ready by 1 pm. Then on, it was, as usual, reading the synopsis of different movies in the festival book and moving on to theatres after theatres eager to catch up with films after films.

The crowds seemed to be there, eager to lap up all the films, especially the contemporary ones and the competition films. The four days that I spent at Thiruvananthapuram, as usual, was nothing less than great, a real good break from my usual work and other chores, a departure from the mundane and a take off to things that would propel me to be happy and contented with the mundane things till the next edition of the IFFK, the 15th IFFK.

I liked being part of the crowd in seeing films like ‘Jermal’, ‘True Noon’, ‘About Elly’, ‘Dream’ (there were friends joking that the director Kim Ki-Duk has no admirers in Korea and his admirers are all here, in Kerala), ‘Sweet Rush’ etc. (Well, there were people sitting even on the floor, all crammed up, to watch these films).

I also took time to watch in peace some of the films that didn’t attract that much of a crowd, like P.A.Backer’s ‘Manimuzhakkam’ (which I had been desiring to see for a long time), Cheran’s ‘Pokkisham’ and Saeed Mirza’s ‘Ek Tho Chance’; and I was pleased to see a fairly good number of people coming to see Francois Truffaut’s 1962 movie ‘Jules et Jim’, one of the most talked about movies of all times.

At the same time, I regretted being not able to see some of the most talked about movies in the festival, including ‘Anti Christ’ and ‘Shirin’. I longed to re-visit films in the Mrinal Sen retrospective, most of which I had seen earlier. (Well, that happens in all film festivals, especially when you have to choose from seven or eight films that are being screened simultaneously).

The talks that I had about with films with friends and festival regulars and people from the world of films like Thampy Antony  (actor and producer based in the U.S), director Sohanlal, an African filmmaker (whose name I forgot) among others proved enriching.

It was with a not-so happy heart (because there were 3 more days of the festival to go) and at the same time with a happy heart too  (because I was richer now despite having spent money out of my pocket for travelling, accommodation, food etc- richer because I had earned things more valuable than money) that I left Thiruvananthapuram and clambered on to the train to Kochi.

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