The International Film Festival of Kerala, 2010 kicks off today here in Trivadrum and I am sure it will be a rocking show. Today's newspapers are filled with details about various movies that are to be screened in this eight day gala and the whole affair brings back to me pleasant memories from 2009, when I was a regular delegate at various cinema halls across the city during the film festival.
This year, I shall not be infesting the seats at the venues owing to my forced absence from the city for a considerable part of the festival. Seeing the pictures and the news in newspapers makes me wish I was at Trivandrum from the 10th to the 17th. However, blood being considerably more viscous than water, I am forced to ship off to Ludhiana to see my sister. Agreeable trip, one might say, except that it forces me to give the festival a miss in the bulk.
Last year, 2009, I attended the IFFK on every single day, sometimes delicately jumping over hurdles such as protests by my parents and....umm.. yea, protests by my parents. Some really good films and a general atmosphere of bonhomie and goodwill at the film festival more than made up for everything, indulging me and my eyes in some visual delight.
The films were as varied and different as the mornig birds cries on a Saturday morning at an Indian village, truly proving that variety is the spice of life. The films were from various parts of the globe- the quintessential Iranian movies featuring some great stories and actors, Eastern European ones showcasing the unique socio-political climate of a region caught between two blocs, South Asian movies reflecting the social issues such as poverty and corruption that have become everyday occurances, Latin American movies rich in colour and detail, African movies that throw some light in to the dark continent... The list is pretty huge and not one that sticks to my sieve like memory. It suffices to say that the festival opened to me vistas and windows that to which I may not have had another opportunity. It threw open before me a whole new canvas called Art Artis Gratia. Art for Art's sake.
If you read the papers around here you may garner many nuggets of information such as how the IFFK often focusses on the Third World, or how its movies often feature a socially relevant theme, or how it is one of the best film festivals in the country. But what clinches the deal for an average movie watcher like me who does not possess an intricate and in depth knowledge of movies and the way they are made is the atmosphere that prevails at the festival. It is not a festival where VIP delegates parade themselves in the theatres, watching movies and commenting on how deep the theme is or how the director has managed to inculcate the intricacies and delicacies of turbulence of the protagonist's mind.
It is, for a major part, an informal affair. A place where anyone is welcome and everyone with a pass can go in, grab a seat and watch till their eyes drop. A certain feeling of bonhomie and goodwill, an almost bohemian atmosphere prevails around the place while the city attempts to be at its best behaviour for eight days.
I will never forget the day, when I had to skip breakfast at home in my hurry to reach a theatre in time and, after a movie that lasted for two and a half hours at the Kalabhavan, skipping across the road to feast on some suptuous biriyani at Azad. If there ever was a heaven on earth, it was then and there.
IFFK 2010 promises a great deal and if it is anything like 2009 edition, I am sure it will be a great show. The pictures in the newspapers makes me wish I could stay, but alas, one cannot hope to have everything in life. May be, in 2011. More movies, more biriyanis.