Mangaluru: The second edition of Nitte International Film Festival concluded on April 19 with S Durga as the closing film. For four days, film lovers in Mangaluru reported to the NIFF ticket counter at Bharath Cinemas, to catch as many films as their schedule permitted. About 60 award-winning and critically acclaimed films played across four days in the three screens dedicated to NIFF at the venue.
If every film-viewing is considered as a conversation begun, it becomes the responsibility of the viewers to contribute and take it forward. With this in mind, NIFF hosted about 30 filmmakers to allow for the possibility of such a conversation. There was an interactive session with each filmmaker after the screening of their film. In addition to this, there were also sessions scheduled to discuss film and society.
Conversing about Cinema
On the third day of the festival, national award winning film critic Manu Chakravarthy, was in conversation with the director Ramesh Sharma. Two of Sharma’s films were showcased at the festival – the 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary The Journalist and The Jihadi, and the 1986 feature film, New Delhi Times. Chakravarthy asked Sharma to talk about the politics and history behind the making of New Delhi Times, and asked whether it was high time to make a sequel to the movie.
“I do not want to make a sequel in the current times,” Sharma declared, talking about the rise in intolerance and the cumbersome censorship process. He admitted his late-career preference for the use of the documentary form over fictional narratives to tell his stories.
The discussion, moderated by Chakravarthy, explored the link between media, politics and society, raising questions about media ownership and the resulting compromise in the freedom and integrity of journalists.
Ethics also featured prominently in the discussion on the fourth day of the festival between Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (S Durga, Ozhivudivasathe Kali), Suneel Raghavendra (Puta Tirugisi Nodi) and Sachin Kundalkar (Gulabjaam). The directors from different states, having made very different movies, came together for a panel discussion on representation and identity politics. What followed was a thoughtful conversation on the role of films in society and the grey area of the ‘responsibilities’ of a film maker.
With three male film makers on the panel, an inevitable question was on the challenge of creating and sustaining roles for women. The consensus, amongst the panelists and the audience they were speaking with, was that the industry needs more women filmmakers, and that we have to make space for and include different voices in our cinema and in its making.
“When I started assisting in films, I found that the making of a film itself is built on the edifice of the caste setup. We have separate meals for the lighting team, the assistant directors, and the directors and actors,” said Raghavendra.
Sasidharan, whose film S Durga courted controversy and ran into trouble with the censor board, said that democracy is meant to ensure the equal distribution of power, but our society today is a “democracy only on paper.”
He spoke about resisting the restrictions imposed on creative freedom by the authorities, by having film screenings in different parts of Kerala, including remote villages. S Durga, which happened to be NIFF’s closing film, received a warm response from the audience, and was a fitting finale to the festival.
Nitte International Film Festival concludes on a high note