New Delhi, Oct 25: It is an endeavour to usher in an era of peace and harmony in South Asia through the medium of cinema.
A festival of South Asian films seeking to explore commonalities running through countries in the region and, in the process, bring peace and harmony in the subcontinent opened in the capital last night.
The festival will showcase a select group of films from South Asian countries.
The festival got under way with the screening of the Sri Lankan film 'Dheevari' at the Siri Fort complex in the capital here last night.
Earlier, renowned Sri Lankan filmmaker Benedet Ratnayake inaugurated the event by the lighting the lamp.
Directed by Salinda Perera, Dheevari of a fisherwoman Valli who fights against the equalties of feudal system also had it World pemiere at the event.
A week-long festival, will screen about 70 films in the mainstream cinema, documentaries and short films from countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maladives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The festival was earlier to be inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. However, she could not make it due to some pressing engagements.
Organised by the South Asia Foundation in association with the Indian Council of Cultural relations, the festival is a continuance of the foundation's decade-long efforts to foster cooperation and understanding among people of the region.
''The aim of the film festival is to explore commonalities that run across cultures in South Asia as well as to forge an environment of peace and harmony among people of the region. When it comes to facilitating cultural interaction between people of South Asian countries, there cannot be a better vehicle than a festival showcasing their films from a common platform as films are the only mode of entertainment for millions of people in these countries,'' ''Secretary general of the foundation Rahul Barua said.
The inaugural event saw the presence of several delegates from the participant countries.
Festival director Rameeza Akhtar said the event would witness participation by eminent filmmakers including Subhash Ghai, Shyam Benegal, Sudhir Misra, Pankuj Parashar, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vinod Khanna.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms Akhtar, an eminent singer and theatre artiste and executive member of the governing council of the Foundation said,''South Asian countries have a lot of commonalities running through them. Whether it be Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India or Pakistan, all of them have common customs. This is what we seek to bring out through the festival.'' A unique feature of the event was the that the films being screened ran across a wide variety of styles and genres. They ranged from parallel films like Sudhir Misra's 'Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi' and Gautam Ghose's 'Paar' to multiplex films like Madhur Bahndarkar's 'Page 3' and 'Corporate' and Nagesh Kukunoor's 'Iqbal' Mainstream commercial ventures like Subhash Ghai's 'Pardes', Aziz Mirza's 'Chalte Chalte' and Farhan Akhtar's 'Dil Chahta Hai'will also be shown during the festival.
Over 40 eminent filmmakers and film personalities from various South Asian countries are expected to discuss their work, exchange creative and technical expertise in filmmaking and ensure participation of policy planners and opinion leaders.
The focus of the festival will be on Sri Lankan cinema. In this context, it will pay a tribute to acclaimed Lankan filmmaker Lester J Peries.
''I feel cultural events like this which will screen films running across a wide range of genres - from parallel films to the so-called multiplex films to those by established filmakers, play a great role in bridging gap between cultures. Further, it also provides an opportunity for filmmakers in countries like, say, Pakistan and Bangladesh to showcase their films to a wides section of audience,''Pakistani actress Sania Ansari, whose film 'Javed Shampoo' is being screened at the festival, said.
The films being screened at the festival were selected by a team of experts from the Foundation. Further, a steering committee comprising Union Minister for science and technolgy and oscan developmentKapil Sibal, filmmakers Gautam Ghose, Shyam Benegal, Sudhir Misra, Punkuj Parashar and actor Vinod Khanna have given a new dimension to the festival by identifying a socio-political role for cinema.
A number of side events as will bring together various segments of the film industry. A seminar, 'Trends in Indian cinema:implications for South Asia', will discuss the problems faced by the film industry in South Asia and highlight the opportunity that its Indian counterpart can offer.
Further, an interactive for sesion aspiring filmmakers has also been organised.
The films will be screened at the Max Muellar Bhavan and the India Habitat Centre as well.