Kolkata: The 23rd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), India's second oldest film festival, rolls back into the eastern metropolis on Friday, welcoming world cinema, attracting the finest of talents and embracing fresh cinematic experiments.
Beginning with a star-studded inaugural on Friday, the gala event, hosted by the Bengal government, will screen an assemblage of 143 films spanning 53 countries under 16 different categories till November 17.
Stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan will be present at the inaugural ceremony. Tamil film icon Kamal Haasan and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt are also slated to attend the ceremony, to be presided over by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Britain will be the focus country this year in commemoration of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 with as many as 13 of its films part of the week-long celebration.
Headlining the British highlight in a retrospective are six films of acclaimed English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom.
Welcome to Sarajevo, Trishna, The Claim are part of the film fest roster.
Lady Macbeth, Adult Life Skills and Sea Sorrow are slotted in the contemporary British films while the classics are dominated by David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes among others.
Icons of Indian cinema Tom Alter, Om Puri and Ramananda Sengupta will be remembered through rich tributes.
Three films will be showcased in memory of cinematographer Sengupta (Headmaster) and actors Tom Alter (Shatranj Ke Khiladi) and Om Puri (Sadgati).
Netaji Indoor Stadium has been given a completely new look with decorations all over. There will be a musical show based on culture and tradition of Bengal at the inaugural ceremony that will be followed by screening of a 93-minute long internationally acclaimed film Yellow by Iranian director Mostafa Taqizadeh.
Dignitaries from different film industries, delegates from abroad and hundreds of people from different parts of the state will be attending the inaugural event of the seven-day-long film festival that will begin at 4 pm on Friday.
Film lovers from the state are eagerly waiting to listen to the Chief Minister and other dignitaries like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
It may be mentioned that while addressing the gathering at inaugural ceremonies of the film festivals in the previous years, Amitabh Bachchan had mentioned Hiralal Sen, the first filmmaker of India. He formed Royal Bioscope Company in 1899. The state government this time has introduced an award in his name.
Usually, the best film and best director with award money of Rs 51 lakh and Rs 21 lakh respectively was only for foreign language films. However, from this year, the award money worth Rs 7 lakh and Rs 5 lakh will also be given to best film and best director of the films in Indian language.
This is the first time when several new components have been introduced in the film festival including screening of films in rare Indian languages to give them an international platform to the movies made in these languages. The languages include Boro, Khashi, Chakma from the North-East, apart from which there are Dogri from Himachal Pradesh in North India and one from Goa.
From November 11 onwards, a total of 143 films including 93 in the foreign category will be screened at Nandan I, II and III, Rabindra Sadan, Sisir Mancha, Nazrul Tirtha, Star Theatre, Mitra Cinema, Navina Cinema, Mani Square, EZCC and Inox City Centre.
The Chief Minister will be leaving for London after attending the inaugural ceremony of the KIFF on Friday where she will be present at the function to install a Blue Plaque at the house of Sister Nivedita in connection with her 150th birth anniversary. She will also be meeting industrialists in London to bring more investment in the state, urging industrialists from London to attend the Bengal Global Business Summit scheduled to be held on January 16 and 17 next year. The Chief Minister will return from London on November 18.