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Britain in focus, homage to Tom Alter, Om Puri at Kolkata film fest

IANS | Kolkata |

In commemoration of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017, Britain will be the focus country for the 23rd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), India’s second oldest film festival, which will also pay homage to icons of Indian cinema Tom Alter, Om Puri and Ramananda Sengupta.


The festival beginning here on November 10 will screen an assemblage of 143 films spanning 53 countries under 16 different categories till November 17.


“As many as 13 films from Britain will be shown during the festival while six films of acclaimed English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom will be screened as part of retrospective,” Yadab Mandal, KIFF Director, said here on Sunday.


Stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan will be present at the inaugural ceremony on November 10. Tamil film icon Kamal Haasan and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt are also slated to attend the ceremony, to be presided over by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.


Iranian film maker Mostafa Taghizadeh’s “Yellow” (2017) will kick-off the gala event while prolific French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s “The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company” will be screened in cinematic format at the fest. The 1986 film, made for television was restored and released in October this year.


According to organisers, this would be the first screening of the film in India.


Three films will be showcased in memory of cinematographer Sengupta (“Headmaster”) and actors Tom Alter (“Shatranj Ke Khiladi”) and Om Puri (“Sadgati”).


As for the competitive section, the women’s director’s competition has been replaced by ‘Innovation in Moving Images’ with a prize money of Rs 51 lakh for the best film and Rs 21 lakh for the best director.


“The women directors’ exclusive section was done away with following feedback from the female filmmakers who felt a separate section would create distinctions and they felt it doesn’t matter who is male, who is female.. the fact that they make good films, matters most,” said Mandal.


Indian languages competition section has been introduced this year in which 10 films in nine languages will fight it out for the Hiralal Sen Memorial Award. Also, there’s a prize money of Rs 700,000 for Best Film and Rs 500,000 for Best Director.


“As many as eight films in as many languages (Monpa, Konkani, Kodava, Boro, Dogri, Maithili, Khasi and Chakma) will be featured in the ‘Unheard India: Rare Indian Languages’ section,” Mandal said.


Apart from Winterbottom, in the retrospective category, six films of Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, one of Thailand’s most celebrated working directors will be screened.


In a toast to cinematic technique, an exposition of original equipment used by the Lumiere brothers, auteur Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak has been planned.


The Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture will be given by Rachel Dwyer, professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS, University of London.


A total of 93 foreign language films be screened through the festival and 50 from India.