Mamata inaugurates 26th KIFF, allows full occupancy of Bengal theatres

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Kolkata, Jan 8 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday virtually inaugurated the 26th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) and allowed full occupancy of cinema halls in the state with adherence to COVID safety protocols.

The inaugural ceremony was also virtually attended by Bollywood superstar and West Bengal's brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan from Mumbai.

Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's classic 'Apur Sansar' will be the inaugural film of the festival in which 131 movies from 45 countries will be screened till January 13.

Banerjee, while delivering her inaugural address from state secretariat Nabanna, asked the cinema hall owners to maintain all safety protocols including regular sanitisation of the theatres.

She asked Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay to issue a notification raising the occupancy limit of theatres from 50 to 100 per cent.

The occupancy limit was restricted to ensure physical distancing inside the theatres.

Citing lesser revenues since the reopening of theatres in October last year and no known instance of the spread of COVID-19 through cinema halls, the theatre owners had recently written a letter to the chief minister requesting her to allow full occupancy of the establishments.

Banerjee said apart from issuing e-passes for seeing films in state-run auditoriums in Nandan-Rabindra Sadan and Rabindra Okakura Bhavan, organisers should spare some thought for people who are not well-versed with technology and suggested if some films could be screened at the open-air theatre in Nandan.

Despite the pandemic situation, the West Bengal government has hosted the 26th KIFF on a smaller scale at a time when many organisers of other film festivals have cancelled their events, she said.

Banerjee paid tributes to legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who died due to post-COVID complications last year, and other luminaries and said a section will be dedicated to their works.

She invited Khan to visit the state during Raksha Bandhan and next year's KIFF, to which he replied in affirmative.

The actor has been attending the film festival since 2011 but could not visit Kolkata this year due to the pandemic situation.

Several renowned actors were present in Nandan during the inauguration. PTI SUS ACD ACD