New Delhi, Feb 23: A week-long Film Festival of Indian Ocean nations showcasing the latest in cinema of the member countries is underway here.
The festival was inaugurated by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma yesterday.''IOR-ARC is an important association for cooperation in various fields among the member countries. Initiatives like the Film Festival offer understanding of the cultural perspective of member countries through the medium of cinema,'' Mr Sharma said.The inaugural film of the festival was from Australia-- 'Yolngu Boy', directed by Stephen Michael Johnson. Indian entry in the festival is Shahrukh Khan starrer 'Chak De! India' by Shimit Amin.
India had offered to host the event at the 7th Council of Ministers (CoM) of Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) held in Tehran in March last year.
This is for the first time that such a festival of member countries of the Association is being held. Ten of the 18-member countries are participating in the festival during which personalities connected with the film industry of those countries would also be present.
The aim of organising the event was to promote cultural cooperation among the member countries, and give them an opportunity to explore the possibilities of joint collaboration.
Besides India and Australia, other countries whose films would be screened during the festival are South Africa, Bangladesh, Iran, Thailand, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Tanzania.
IOR-ARC is a regional cooperation initiative established in Mauritius in March 1997 with the aim of promoting economic and technical cooperation, including expansion of trade and investment and comprises 18 members: Australia, India, Kenya, Mauritius, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Yemen, Bangladesh, Iran, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.
There are five Dialogue Partners of IOR-ARC, namely, France, Japan, UK, Egypt and China. (Seychelles withdrew from IOR-ARC in 2003).
Current Chairman of IOR-ARC Syed Mehdin Nabizadeh, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of the Iran and the Director of the opening film ''Yolngu Boy'' were also present on the occasion.