As many as 149 films by 137 directors from 61 countries will be screened across 12 venues at the 21st Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), which will be inaugurated here on Saturday by megastar Amitabh Bachchan, the organisers said.
His wife Jaya Bachchan, actresses Vidya Balan, Sharmila Tagore and Moushumi Chatterjee will also grace the occasion. However, superstar Shah Rukh Khan, a regular at the openings, will not be present due to film commitments.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will preside over the ceremony. An innovative musical performance titled “Maestros of Bengal” will headline the event. The fest will conclude on November 21.
KIFF, which is India’s second oldest film festival, will raise a toast to Hollywood classics and shine the spotlight on cinema in relatively unheard Indian dialects.
Among the 15 segments, new sections like ‘Films on Sports’ and ‘India Unheard’ have been introduced to showcase Ladakhi, Nepali and Konkani languages. The festival is budgeted at Rs 8 crore.
“This year for the second time, the KIFF is a competitive event. The competition focuses on women filmmakers. The Royal Bengal trophy will be awarded to the best film (Rs 51 lakh) and the best director (Rs 21 lakh),” said KIFF director Yadab Mandal.
Tagore is the jury chairperson this year. “The cash award for the best film is the single largest cash award at Aany international film festival now,” claimed Mandal, adding a whopping 121 entries were received but only 14 selected for the competitive segment.
The jury comprising well-known Chinese-American actress Bai Ling, Polish director Filip Marczewski, Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz and Sri Lankan actress Swarna Mallawarachchi, will select the Best Film and Best Director from 14 short-listed movies.
As many as 176 films have been selected for the short and documentary segment which also has been made a competitive element of the fest.
Mandal said majority of the films are new but classics such as Anthony Quinn's “Zorba The Greek”, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” and William Wyler's “Ben Hur” are also part of the oeuvre.
Actor Rahul Bose will deliver the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture but organisers declined to divulge names of other speakers and international participants.
After inaugurating the film festival, Amitabh Bachchan will again return to Kolkata on November 27 to work with filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh in his upcoming movie ‘TE3N’. According to information, Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui will stay in Kolkata as the shooting will continue for two months. Before, the shooting for ‘TE3N’ was scheduled to start at Writers’ Building from the first week of November. However, due to some pending construction work, the date was rescheduled on November 27.
Since Banerjee came to power, top Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan have been inaugurating the KIFF and now it seems to have become a trend.