The second Nitte International Film Festival, presented by Nitte (Deemed-to-be) University, brought together film viewers and film makers for a four-day film festival from April 16-19 at Bharath Cinemas in Bharath Mall.
The festival aimed at showcasing critically acclaimed cinema from across India and the world, to the public in Mangaluru, while providing a platform for film-makers and film-viewers to have a conversation. All film-screenings and discussions at the festival were free and open to the public on a first come, first serve basis.
The festival kicked off on April 16 at 09:15 a.m. with the inauguration by renowned film-maker and theatre person M. Sadananda Suvarna. Dr Sateesh Kumar Bhandary, Vice Chancellor, Nitte (Deemed to be University) presided over the event. NIFF 2018 opened with the National Award winning Hindi film Mukti Bhawan (2016, Special Jury Award). The line-up included several other National Award winners, such as Village Rockstars (Best Film, Best Editing), Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (Best Malayalam film, Best Original Screenplay), Mayurakshi (Best Bengali Film), Dhh (Best Gujarati Film) and To Let (Best Tamil Film).
Recognising the lacuna in Mangaluru’s arts and culture landscape for a major film festival, NIFF was launched in 2017 as a student-run festival organized by Nitte Institute of Communication. For its second edition, NIFF built on its success from last year when the maiden film festival witnessed an enthusiastic crowd and packed theatres.
This year, about 60 films were screened from different languages including Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Chinese, Czech and French.
NIFF 2018 also showcases several children’s films to encourage an early exposure to good cinema. The lineup included Heidi, a German-language film presented in association with the Swiss Embassy, as well as award-winning Indian films such as Dhh (Gujarati), Pipsi (Marathi), Half Ticket (Marathi) and Maza Bhirbhira (Marathi).
The festival played host to Raj B Shetty (Director, Ondu Motteya Kathe), Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (Director, S Durga), Hemanth Rao (Director, Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu), R S Prasanna (Director, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan) among many other film makers.
An interactive session with each filmmaker after the screening of their film and longer discussions including a session with R S Prasanna on his film Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, a session on Media, Politics and Society with Ramesh Sharma and N Manu Chakravarthy and a panel discussion on Caste and Cinema were the high points of the festival.
A masterclass on cinematography by national-award winning cinematographer G S Bhaskar, was also held.
On the third day of the festival, national award winning film critic Manu Chakravarthy, was in conversation with 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 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, among the panelists and the audience they were speaking with, was that the industry needed more women filmmakers, and that we have to make space for and include different voices in our cinema and in its making.
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.
Some of the movies screened at NIFF 2018