Renowned filmmaker Kamal has been involved in a number of capacities in past instances of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), but feels the situation has changed for the better in the upcoming 20th edition.
Citing as improvements, the streamlined selection process and increased participation from the countries that haven’t been the regular contributors, he said, the festival’s unique quality and the experience for the viewing public will be enhanced.
““IFFK 2015 will be different. Instead of the regular emphasis on East Asian films, we have better representation from countries that don’t usually feature in the competition category – from Haiti, Palestine, Nepal and Kazakhstan, among others – have come up in the same this year,” said Kamal, who chaired the International Competition Movies selection. “It’s a good change.” he added.
But, he insisted, there was no relaxation of academic rigour and cinematic quality requirements in the pursuit of diversity – nor was the IFFK’s traditional emphasis on films from Asia, Africa and Latin America underplayed.
“We saw 140 movies and the best 10 have been selected to compete for the top prize. Naturally, we won't be able to include movies from all countries. So, for a movie to be selected, it should ably represent the region from which it comes.”
“Take Arab Nasser’s Degrade. I felt it’s a movie that represents Palestine's frail social system. People are very familiar with the missiles and conflicts and most movies narrate the Palestine story from a man's point of view. Though directed by a man, this movie takes perspectives from a cross-section of the region’s women. It’s a very relevant movie.”
“Then, we have Murder in Pacot selected from four Haitian entries, all set in the backdrop of the 2010 earthquake.”
“Every film selected to the competition section will offer a different experience for film lovers,” said Kamal, adding that splitting the selection process into three separate jury – one each for Malayalam, Indian-language and World cinema – played a key role.
“It was a relief compared to my previous experiences in selection camps. Earlier there were no separate committees because of which the jury members after a point of time would get exhausted after casting a critical eye to several movies in a row.”
But he would have taken up the offer to chair the jury regardless, Kamal said. “I never miss a chance to sit in on the selection process. We might have to go through 15-20 movies a day. But I have never felt it as a tiring routine. We are utilising our time watching movies, learning a lot from them.”
“The best part is the thrill you get watching around 140 greatly diverse films. This is a rare privilege and it has always benefited my filmmaking.” Among this year’s crop, he singled out Jun Robles Lana’s Tagalog feature Shadow behind the moon from the Philippines as having “amazed me as a filmmaker with its clever narrative techniques”.
This is why, he said, young aspiring filmmakers should make use of the opportunity afforded by the IFFK to the fullest. “They should see this as a part of their learning process like I do and be more serious about watching movies rather than going for fun’s sake.”
“For me, the itch to make movies came from such opportunities to watch movies from around the globe. I was very passionate about it right from my college days and so have been associating and attending the IIFK since the first edition.”