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Monday, 20 November 2006 
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Farewell to film fervour

Kajari Bhattacharya
KOLKATA, Nov. 17: The last day of the 12th Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) had eager film lovers queuing up before the theatres one last time, at least for this year. People hung around the festival premises in groups, discussing the films they had seen and the films they hoped to see next year. Many felt that the quantity of films ~ 225 ~ was inversely proportional to film buffs being able to watch the films they wanted to. In an effort to “change the structure of the film festival,” first-time festival director Mr Nilanjan Chattopadhyay and other organisers, some regulars at KFF felt, had made the festival schedule somewhat cumbersome. The great quantity of films had made repeat shows of good films being screened a virtual impossibility.
In the next festival, Mr Chattopadhyay said, the emphasis would be laid on quality rather than on quantity of the films. He admitted that the great number of films that had been brought to the festival this year had made it rather unwieldy. “In our eagerness to bring film lovers a feast of films, we may have brought too many to the festival this year. Next year, we may have to decrease the size of the package so that we can accommodate repeat shows of good films,” Mr Chattopadhyay said.
More young directors and a package of films based on the works of a great litterateur such as Fyodor Dostoevsky would be on the cards for the 13th Kolkata Film Festival, Mr Chattopadhyay said. This year, three films based on the writings of Franz Kafka were screened. One of them was the short film In the Penal Colony, by the Canadian filmmaker of Turkish origin, Sibel Guvenc. Guvenc was pleasantly surprised to find viewers in Kolkata so knowledgeable about the great European writer. “I have taken my film to several film festivals. But Kolkata is the first place where people have heard of Franz Kafka! In Canada, the situation is not so bad, but in the USA…” Guvenc rolled her eyes to explain the situation there. “I am really very happy that I didn’t have to explain to anyone here who Kafka was. It’s great to be able to communicate with such ease about my films,” she said.
A plus for the film festival this year were films from countries that have never had their films screened in India before. Films from Albania (Magic Eye), Macedonia (Kontakt), Lebanon (Kiss Me Not On the Eyes), Estonia (The Neighbour), Azerbaijan (Hostage) and Uzbekistan (The Road Under Heaven) were all first-time showings from those countries.
Another interesting section was Discovery in which films of directors, who are making people sit up and take notice in the international festival circuit, were shown. One of them is Jean Soo-il from South Korea. Among the four of his films shown at KFF, Time Between Dog and Wolf was made last year. “In the dark, when people meet near the border of North and South Koreas, you cannot understand who is from which side. The same is true if you see a dog or a wolf in the dark. You cannot tell the difference,” said Soo-il. Others in the Discovery section were Hungarian directors Bela Tarr and Zsolt Kezdi-Kovacs and Patrice Chereau from France.
There were some hiccups, such as filmmakers whose films were screened not being informed in time, films being slotted in strange sections, or erroneous announcements about film shows. A night-long film show festival authorities had announced earlier was aborted due to “administrative hassles and security concerns,” according to the festival director. But in spite of some rough edges, many wish today wasn’t the last day of the 12th Kolkata Film Festival.

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