PIFF needs better management and more involved audience

Prajakta Joshi
Saturday, 19 January 2019

While PIFF 2019 ended a couple of days ago, the PIFF Forum that is supposed to be the highlight, received a poor response

For the past 17 years, one of the events in the city that has been putting Pune on the world map is the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF). With a selection of films from all over the world, the festival is a huge hit among the city’s elderly, as well as the younger film students and enthusiasts. The festival proudly hosts PIFF Forum for the past few years, a renewal of the original PIFF Bazaar, where interactions with filmmakers and eminent personalities in film fraternity are held. However, this year, most of the interactions at the Forum failed to grab enough attention of the PIFF delegates.

With most of the film-related interactions going unnoticed, PIFF this year was mostly an event of film screenings, rather than a festival that nurtures the relation between filmmakers and film lovers.

On Saturday (the third day of the festival), when Festival Director Jabbar Patel held interaction with Andhadhun fame filmmaker Sriram Raghavan and actress Tabu and their team, the pandal where the Forum takes place was overflowing with people. However, over the next two days, when interactions by the cast and crew of some of the eminent Marathi films that are a part of the competition at the Festival went almost unnoticed. Similar was the case with the interviews of the foreign filmmakers. While Samar Nakhate of the selection committee went on stage, conducting interview after interview, there were hardly any delegates to listen to what these artistes had to say. Most of the seats were seemingly filled with the volunteers themselves.

The empty chairs and unattended interviews raised a question whether the film festivals are not supposed to be platforms to bring film artistes, exotic and exclusive, on a platform so that the local audience gets a chance to hear them out? These interactions are the essence of film festivals. It’s not just the films from different parts of the world, but the hundreds of stories behind them, their narrations, their perceptions of the films that make the experience of watching those films even more enriching. However, the audience at PIFF seemed to be paying almost no attention to this beauty of the festivals.

The regular visitors at film festivals across the country would know that the interactions with the global filmmakers have the maximum number of delegates. Especially the film students cherish this opportunity and talk to maximum filmmakers possible. This was not seen at PIFF this year.

Small and big filmmakers from around the world, even the smallest of the countries interacted with the organisers at PIFF this year. The films telling stories of the remotest parts of the country and by some of the lesser-known directors too were discussed. However, unsure of whether it was lack of proper advertising by the organisers or general lack of interest on part of the audience, these did not really make a mark.

If the same delegates who frequent the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa are also visiting PIFF, they will certainly be shocked to see the exhibition put up by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) here, this time. Based on the Festival’s theme, ‘In Search of Truth’ to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, NFAI has put up an exhibition ‘Mahatma on Celluloid’. The exhibition has posters of films based on the life or ideals of Mahatma Gandhi.

The reason IFFI is mentioned earlier was that NFAI has been putting up a grand show in Goa for the past few years. In a big pandal, with songs and lights, and huge colourful posters attract crowds of curious delegates from around the world. One would not believe that it is the same organisation that has put up tiny posters, in a gloomy empty room at the PIFF Forum.

As Sakal Times had reported on Day 1 of the Festival, the opening ceremony of PIFF was a huge miss. While there were delays in the functioning of the audio-visuals, the quality of the videos shown in honour of those awarded with distinguished awards were not at all up to the mark. The anchors of the event mispronounced the names of the foreign dignitaries, and also forgot a couple of them, while the jury members were being awarded. The absence of State Minister of Cultural Affairs Vinod Tawde from second consecutive PIFF event was also questioned by the media all over, and raised doubts over the present government’s interest in the Festival.

For any festival to be a success, it is hence necessary that along with a good selection of films, global as well as local, there should be well-managed events, a good platform for the artistes to present themselves, and equally strong support from an engaged audience.

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