An unseasonal shower failed to dampen the inauguration of the 46th edition of the International Film Festival of India, which opened in Goa Friday, even as a couple of FTII students staged a minor protest during the ceremony, before being escorted out of the venue.
The ceremony marked the start of the 11-day festival, which began with the opening film 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' directed by Mathew Brown the self-taught Indian mathematical genius Ramanajun and his friendship with G.H. Hardy who helped reveal the mathematics genius to the world.
The chief guest of the inauguration ceremony, veteran actor Anil Kapoor, was accompanied by fellow artistes who were also in attendance like the chairman of the festival's jury Shekhar Kapur, legendary music director Ilayaraja, Hollywood actor Dev Patel and the rest of the cast of the opening film, along with union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, union minister of state Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore.
More than 7,000 delegates from 38 countries, most from India, have registered for the festival which will also be accompanied simultaneously by the ninth edition of the Film Bazaar, a networking event aimed at facilitating collaboration in the realm of production and distribution.
Speaking on the occasion, Jaitley said great film festivals all over the world are conventionally identified with the location where they are held and Goa was the perfect location for the event.
"It is essential to make these locations centres where creativity assembles. There can't be a better synergy than good cinema and Goa," Jaitley said.
Shekhar Kapur, who has directed Bollywood blockbusters like 'Mr. India' as well as globally acclaimed films like 'Elizabeth', said it was the first time that he was chairing a film festival jury in India and credited Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister, for bringing IFFI to Goa.
"I have never been a chairman of jury at home. ... I love Goa. I along with Mr Parrikar, fought to bring this festival to Goa," Kapur said, recounting how in 2004 the festival moved from being a travelling festival to one with a permanent location in Goa.
The inaugural ceremony also saw a minor disruption after two attendees raised banners and slogans demanding removal of Film and Television Institute of India director Gajendra Chauhan. The protestors were escorted out of the venue by police personnel.
The festival will come to a close on November 30, at a ceremony where Music maestro A.R. Rahman will be the chief guest of the closing ceremony of the event and where the best competing films will be awarded the coveted awards, the Golden and Silver peacocks.
Argentina's Oscar entry and this year's biggest Argentinean box office hit, The Clan (El Clan) will be the Closing Film of the festival, while Academy Award winner director, Tom Hooper's film 'The Danish Girl' will be the festival's mid fest film.
Films from Spain will feature in the Focus Country segment.
This year, out of 15 films in International Competition, five are official Oscar entries. The list includes Colombia's El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent)' directed by Ciro Guerra, France's Mustang directed by Deniz Gamze ErgAven, Germany's Oscar entry Im Labyrinth des Schweigens (Labyrinth of Lies) directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, Iceland's Oscar entry Rams directed by GrAmur HAikonarson and Serbia's Enclave directed by Goran Radovanovic.
The list of other Oscar entries that will be screened in the festival includes Chaitanya Tamhane's Court from India, Anna Muylaert's Que Horas Ela Volta? (The Second Mother)' from Brazil, Nikita Mikhalkov's Solnechnyy Udar from Russia and Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Nie Yin Niang from Taiwan.