'The Wall' bags Golden Peacock Award

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Panaji, Dec 3: Chinese film 'The Wall', directed by Lin Chih Ju, has won the Golden Peacock Award for the best film at the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which came to a close today.

The awards were announced in the presence of the distinguished jury which comprised of Hungarian filmmaker Marta Meszaros, noted Argentinian filmmaker Pablo Cesar, New Zealand director Robert Sarkies and one of India's most respected filmmakers Shaji N Karun.

Noted Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta was the chief guest at the 11-day festival which was inaugurated by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan here on November 23.

Though this year IFFI had its share of controversies, it was still acknowledged as a smooth event and marked improvement over the previous years, both in terms of the arrangements and quality of films selected for various sections of the festivals and overall atmosphere.

The Directorate of Film Festival received praise from no less a person than celebrated filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan for giving 'a sort of character' to it.

He, however stressed the need for handling it more professionally and promoting it more intensively to give it an international reputatiion.

In this context, it was learnt from official sources that the government was actively considering floating a body with members drawn from the DFF, ESG and other bodies concerned like the NFDC and Films Division, to handle the affairs of IFFI throughout the year.

The new computerised ticketing system for delegates introduced this time was a success and helped in avoiding large queues.

However, friction betwen the DFF, which is under the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the state government backed Goa Entertainment Society in certain spheres, was evident.

The festival began with the screening of Palme d'Or winning Romanian film ''Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days'' by C Istian Mungiu. Malyalam film 'Ore Kadal' directed by Shyamaprasad had opened the feature films section of the Indian Panorama while 'Bagher Bacha' (Bengali) directed by Bishnu Dev Halder was the inaugural film of the non-feature section of the festival.

During the festival, films by celebrated filmmakers from all over the world were screened.

Among the highlights of the festival was the premiere of the Amitabh starrer 'The Last Lear' (English) dircted by noted Bengali Filmmaker Ritupurno Ghosh. The film has already been premiered in the Toronto Film Festival.

Pakistani film 'Khuda Kay Liye' in which Naseeruddin Shah makes a guest appearance, also evoked great interest among the delegates.

Directed by Shoaib Mansoor, the thought-provoking drama focused on the dilemma of progressive Muslims in the country because of their modern approach towards life.

Apart from the first Pakistani entry in the IFFI in the competition section, Georgia also made its debut in the prestigious event with its film 'Svani'.

This time 14 films, including two Indian, from 13 countries, competed for the prestigious Golden Peacock Award, which carries a medal and Rs 10 lakh. The Best Director Award went to Pongpat Wachirabunjong of Thailand for his film 'Me Myself'. A special Jury Award was shared by Bangladesh Film Director Golam Rabanny Biplab for his film 'On the Wings of Dreams' and child artiste Urbili for 'More Than Anything in the World'.

The ceremony was anchored by noted actor Kabir Bedi.

The competition section had films from Asian, African and Latin American countries. They were 'On the Wings of Dreams' by Golam Rabbany Biplab (Bangladesh), 'Me Myself' by Pongpat Wachirabunjong(Thailand), 'The Debt' by Assaf Bernstein(Israel), 'The Satanic Angels' by Ahmed Boulane(Morocco), 'A Ton of Luck' by Rodrigo Triana (Columbia), 'The Postmodern Life of my Aunt' by Ann Hui (China), 'The Wall' by Lin Chin Ju (Taiwan), 'Olga, Victoria Olga Time Without Time' by Mercedes Farriols (Argentina), 'Mas Que A Nada En El Mundo' by Andrs Leon Becker (Mexico), 'Cruel Embrace' by Anuradha Jaisinghe (Sri Lanka), 'Svani' by Soso and Badri Jachvliani (Georgia) and 'Ek Nadir Galpo' by Samir Chanda and 'Rathrimazha' by Lenin Rajendran (both from India).

The Hindi cinema was represented by 'Dharm' directed by Bhavna Talwar and 'Gafla' directed by Sameer Hanchate.

As a special tribute to noted film directors Tapan Sinha and Vijay Anand special retrospectives of their films titled 'Lest We Forget' and 'An Eternal Romantic--Vijay Anand', were screened, besides retrospectives of Ingmar Bergman and three landmark Kannada films by a generation of filmmakers inspired by a literary movement 'Navya Movement' in Kannada languages, also called the 'literary modernism will'.

The Festival also screened films as a homage to veteran music director OP Nayyar, Marathi actress Vanamala Devi, renowned cinematographer K K Mahajan and Veteran Manipuri director Aribam Syam Sharma's film 'Ishanou'.

Celebrated Malyalam director Adoor Gopalakrishnan's films featured in the Master Classes section of the festival.

In addition, three films curated by the Goa Government and four by the Films Division were screened in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the country's Independence.

The festival also had four films on AIDS awareness directed by noted filmmakers Mira Nair, Vishal Bhardwaj, Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar in the Film India Worldwide sectiion introduced in the festival for the first time.

Manipuri cinema made a comeback after several years with Makhonmani Mongsaba's Yenning Amadi Likla in the feature film section of the Indian Panorama, along with 20 other films.

Apart from this, Aribam Syam Sharma's 58-minute documentary ''Rajarshi Bhagyachandra of Manipur'' and Haobam Paban Kumar's 19-minute short fiction ''Ngaihak Lambida'' were among the 15 non-feature films.

Similarly, the absence of Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan at the special screening of his first English film 'The Last Lear' also raised eyebrows renewing speculations about the continuing reported confrontation between the legendary actor and the central government. However, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi wondered why the issue was raised in the media.

''Amitabh is an icon and the face of the Indian film industry in India and abroad. He was honoured with a National Award for his performance recently,'' he said.

While the DFF maintained that the cast and crew of participating films in the festival were always welcome and did not need special invitations.

The festival passed off peacefully except for a Women organisations' demonstration in Goa against the sale of liquor on the festival premises including setting up of a media lounge by a well known liquor brand for making available hard drinks free of cost to journalists. The media lounge was closed after protests from the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ).


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