Chennai film fest to celebrate spirit of international cinema (Curtain-raiser)

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Chennai, Dec 10 (IANS) With as many as 30 impressive films from Serbia, France, Turkey, Hungary, Taiwan and Iran out of a line-up of over 163 films from 58 countries -- the 11th Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF), starting Thursday, promises to celebrate the spirit of international cinema while entertaining movie aficionados in the Tamil Nadu capital.

Bollywood star Aamir Khan along with southern superstar and filmmaker Kamal Haasan will inaugurate the fest, being organised by the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF) in association with the state government.

The eight-day festival Dec 12-Dec 19 will be graced by several international dignitaries besides the presence of a number of Indian luminaries.

"We will have retrospectives of international filmmakers such as Goran Paskaljevic from Serbia (seven films), French filmmaker Claire Denis (five films) and Istvan Szabo from Hungary (three films). And there's a special section showcasing six films from contemporary Turkey apart from a country focus on Taiwan and Iran as well," E. Thangaraj, festival director, told IANS.

"Besides the films, the festival will also be graced by international film personalities from countries such as Serbia, France, Iran, Kiev, Poland, Mexico and several other countries," he added.

Award-winning films from international film festivals such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice will be screened at CIFF this year.

From critically acclaimed Italian drama "Great Beauty" to French romantic-drama "Young and the Beautiful" to Japanese drama "Like Father Like Son" will be showcased as part of the fest.

The opening day of the fest will feature performances by actress-dancer Shobana, Swarnamalya, singer Karthik and Anil Srinivasan.

"This year we have lined up several interesting events such as flash mob dances, zumba by the beach and musical performances during the opening and closing ceremony of the festival. We have also included film forum discussions in Tamil as well as English," he said.

"We are also introducing film discussions in Tamil because we are keen to attract the localites," added Thangaraj.

A France-based distribution company Eye on Films will address the film industry and aspiring filmmakers on the importance of circulation of feature films across film festivals around the globe.

For the fourth year in a row, CIFF has included a special competition section to honour the best Tamil films. As many as 12 films such as "Soodhu Kavvum", "Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer", "Haridas", "Paradesi" and "Kumki", among others, will battle it out for the prize money of Rs.6 lakh.

Tamil filmmakers R.V. Udayakumar, Sripriya and writer S. Ramakrishnan constitute the jury for the competition section of Tamil films.

Kannan, president of ICAF, added that the four pillars behind the fest this year will be "content, sponsors, organising effort and publicity by media".

"Content will be measured by the quality of films to be screened while the sponsors, effort by the organisers and the overall publicity will decide the success of the festival," said Kannan.

In the Indian panorama section, 17 Indian films such as "Ship of Theseus", "Lucia" and "Sala Budha" will be screened.

A special section on documentaries will feature Hindi-Tamil "An American in Madras", veteran actor Gemini Ganeshan's Tamil romantic-drama "Kadhal Mannan" and a Tamil documentary on poet K. Subramanyam.

Malayalam actor Mohanlal will grace the closing ceremony of the fest, which will witness a live performance of southern composer Anirudh Ravichander, who will also receive the special award constituted in the name of Hindi cinema's megastar Amitabh Bachchan called Amitabh Bachchan Youth Icon Award.