French film about indifference to AIDS wins Golden Peacock at IFFI

Indo Asian News Service

Panaji, Nov 28 (IANS) Robin Campillo's French film "120 Beats Per Minute", about a passionate fight against indifference towards AIDS, won the prestigious Golden Peacock award for best film at the controversy-ridden 48th International Film Festival of India, which wound to a close on Tuesday. The film's actor Nahuel Perez Biscayart won the Silver Peacock in the best actor male category.

Malayalam film "Take Off", which is loosely based on the evacuation of nurses from Kerala, who were stranded in Iraq's Tikrit, Iraq in 2014, won two awards at the festival's Indian Panorama section, winning Silver Peacocks for best direction (Mahesh Narayanan) and best actor female (Parvathy). One of Bollywood's greatest actors Amitabh Bachchan was also presented the Indian film personality of the year award.

The awards were presented at a glittering ceremony at the Shama Prasad Mukherjee indoor stadium on the outskirts of the state capital.

In a video address, the award-winning French actor Biscayart dedicated the award to all those who are afflicted by HIV/AIDS.

"I dedicate the award to all people who are living the way, which is considered shameful. Be visible, get out, shout your pains. Try to change your reality. That's the only way we can live. If we live in shadows, nothing good will come for ourselves," he said.

The Indian award winners Parvathy and Narayanan dedicated the film to the unsung nurses who work on the frontlines, bringing medical care and solace to soldiers and victims of conflict.

"I dedicate this award to all nurses of Kerala and stood their ground (in Tikritq) and with hope and conviction and got out of the dilemma they were in," Paravathy said after receiving her award.

Chinese writer-producer Vivian Qu won the Silver Peacock and a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh for best direction, for her film "Angels Wear White" about child sexual exploitation.

"The story is about children, being assault victims. It is a Chinese story, but a story which is happening around the world," the director said via a video message.

Bolivian filmmaker Kiro Russo's film "Viejo Calavera" won the Silver Peacock and cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, while Canadian director of Egyptian and Armenian descent, Atom Egoyan was awarded the lifetime achievement award.

"It is a huge honour. I have always been influenced by Indian cinema and to be honoured by the country which has had a huge influence on me is a privilege," he said.

The 9-day festival began on November 20, with Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's film "Beyond the Clouds" and the closing film on Tuesday was Argentinian filmmaker Pablo Cesar's film "Thinking of Him".

At the mega film event, nearly 192 films from 82 countries were screened during the nine-day affair. The festival's Indian Panorama section, screened 26 feature films and 16 non feature films, with Vinod Kapri's film "Pihu" opening the section in the feature film category and Kamal Swaroop's "Pushkar Puran" opening the non-feature film category.

The festival also saw a host of allied activities, which included masterclasses conducted by Subhash Ghai, Shekhar Kapur, Egoyan, etc, apart from also hosting a series of panel discussions chaired by Ekta Kapur, Karan Johar, etc.

The focus country for this edition of the festival was Canada and curated cinema from the North American country were screened in presence of leading Canadian actors and film personalities, who attended the event.

IFFI this year, also paid homage to cinematic master spy James Bond, in a special section where nine films featuring the various leading actors who have essayed the iconic character, were screened.

The 48th IFFI will also be known for the long-drawn controversy surrounding Malayalam film "S Durga", a film which along with another movie "Nude" were selected by the jury to be screened in the Indian Panorama section of the festival, but were controversially dropped. Three members of the jury resigned in protest while six others wrote to the I&B Ministry expressing concern.

Despite the director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's petitioning of the Kerala High Court and a re-screening for the jury, IFFI organisers had the last word on the festival's last day, citing objections by the Central Board for Film Certification for not screening the film.

--IANS

maya/vd