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Goa will be permanent venue for film festival: Minister
CANNES MAY 19 2003. Goa will become the permanent venue for the International Film Festival of India. A full, new complex will be raised in about 14 months. Call it a moving or gypsy festival, it had for long troubled those managing it — they were undecided till now on a final destination for the 10-day affair to be held this October (2003).
The Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is here attending the ongoing Cannes International Film Festival, told The Hindu on May 19 2003 that the issue of venue had been settled once and for all. It would be Goa, and probably the 2004 Festival would be held there.
He had his reasons for deciding on a permanent location. "Film festivals are known by the cities — and not by the countries — where they take place: Cannes, Venice, Berlin, London and so on. I thought of Goa, because it is well-known all over the world, and it is a delightful place. It has the right ambiance, and is not very much affected by political happenings. The people there are fun-loving. I have already spoken to the Goa Chief Minister, who is as keen as me."
If India had to be promoted well, we need a good location for the festival. There was a team from Goa here at the Festival, and ``we are working out the details," Mr. Prasad said.
The Minister's meeting with Gilles Jacob, president of the Cannes International Film Festival, earlier in the day had a particular significance in this context. "Mr. Jacob told me that there was a growing awareness of India in France. India's vast cinema market and the possibility of joint cultural ventures and co-productions were discussed, and Mr. Jacob was quite excited about the idea of Goa becoming the festival venue. And Ms. Veronique Cayla, General-Director of the Cannes Festival, has agreed to help us plan the architecture," the Minister said.
Cannes appears to have impressed Mr. Prasad in a big way, who has now been here for about two days. "I feel India's movie-makers must seriously think of showcasing their works here at Cannes, which is undoubtedly the biggest festival in the world. The Government will do its best as a facilitator, but it is our directors who have to create good content. India needs to be projected here as a brand of good cinema, brand of artistic cinema. Even the so-called commercial films can be aesthetic and appealing," Mr. Prasad suggested.
Indeed so. The films of Satyajit Ray or Guru Dutt or Raj Kapoor did not carry any tags, but enjoyed wide theatrical releases, and were certainly great cinema. They were also widely appreciated outside India.
This is precisely "why I would like our directors and producers to look outward. They must change their mindsets. They must start thinking big." The Minister was happy that he could see here at Cannes a powerful Indian presence. Celebrities such as Manisha Koirala, Deepti Naval, Hema Malini, Kamal Hasan, Shekhar Kapur, Vivek Oberoi have all been spotted around the main festival venue here, the Palace.
Mr. Prasad felt that one reason for this year's unusually large Indian contingent was the fact that India was being taken note of. And he hoped that more and more movies from back home would be screened here. "Why is a picture like Aparna Sen's `Mr and Mrs Iyer'' not here," he wondered.
The Minister said that he had told his officers to help Indian film fraternity to find a foothold at Cannes. "It will be a joint effort of the National Film Development Corporation, the Films Division, film festival directors and so on to achieve this, and I would be personally monitoring this," he said.
(This story appeared in The Hindu dated May 20 2003)