Perseverance and much more…
“Good films will be the major attraction of the 16th International Film Festival of Kerala. A wide variety of films produced by great masters like Nagisa Oshima and Roberto Bresson and the new age directors like Semith Kaplanoglu, Jafar Panahi will be exhibited in this festival”, said Bina Paul , the artistic director of the 16th IFFK in an interview with spotlight. “We present before you a varied but balanced package”.
Bina Paul recollected the days when IIFK was started as a low profile event at Calicut in 1996 under the leadership of former NFAI director PK Nair. “The grand success of the festival motivated them to conduct it annually. The initial idea was to make it a travelling fest. But after a couple of fests, practical difficulties in building up the infrastructure every year at different places made them stick to one place, Thiruvananthapuram. However, the goal is to make it even better and the effort is on every year”.
Bina said all the former Chairmen of the Academy have done their best to make IFFK a memorable event.” Adoor sir was adamant that it should not be a festival of extravaganza. It should totally stand for cinema and only for cinema. And it is his legacy that we still follow! Rajeev Kumar took the effort to make the event better organized. During K.R. Mohanan’s period, the festival became more popular as the people’s festival. The present chairman Priyadarshan wants IFFK to be made truly international in quality and reach”, the celebrated editor remarked.
The coordinators under Bina’s leadership have been trying to provide better facilities for food, transportation and solving parking problems. They have also introduced provision for online payment of delegate fee. One can also register for the pass even through android phones.
“While Priyadarshan is the chairman of IFFK, members in the team include eminent people like Joshy Mathew and Ranjith, all part of the filmfraternity. There are also several committees; a committee for selection of films, a preview committee, a hospitality committee, a programming committee, a print coordination committee and so on. The state Minister for Film K.B. Ganesh Kumar, being a part of both the film fraternity and the government, has been extremely supportive as the President of the Film festival”, Bina pointed out.
Talking about the major changes after she took office in 2003, Bina Paul observed that the programming has improved a lot and the attitude of the audience has changed dramatically; they now watch films more seriously and are recognizing the importance of this space. Moreover, the process of bringing films for the festival has changed. There is more awareness among people about the standard of films screened at the IFFK and its worth. Today directors themselves are interested in exhibiting their films in IFFK. That was not the case five years ago!
Bina was all smiles when mentioning about her learning experience during the process. She said that while taking decisions, it was essential for them to keep in mind that they were not catering to one person but to the whole of Kerala. This was a big challenge and a great learning experience. Kerala, being a socially conscious society, people would immediately react to little acts like changes in time schedules or changes in the list of films. But then also she was extremely happy in her job and as long as she gets a good film, she was content.
“No festival belongs to one person. It is a team effort. Someone has to take the mantle. This time, the responsibility is on my shoulders. But if I am not here, somebody else would carry out the task as efficiently as or even better than me. But in terms of the work I am very committed and dedicated” Bina Paul said beaming.
“A lot of hard work goes into the selection of films to be screened. It takes a whole year to plan them. We form different committees for World Cinema, Malayalam Cinema, and Competition Cinema. The chairman has a right to suggest a film in Malayalam cinema package and I have the right to suggest films under the World Cinema section. It is difficult to choose and many a times, it could be a matter of subjectivity. Something you like may not be the one that I like. But the final selection is done through a systematic process and there is no scope for disparities.”
When asked about IFFK planning a shift to Calicut, she said it is a matter to be decided by the Government.