IFFI 2018 opens to a scintillating display of myriad cultures, film snippets and on-stage camaraderie between celebrities Karan Johar, Minister Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Akshay Kumar


By K Ashwin Mobile: 09920183006 Email:indianshowbusiness@gmail.com

Ending the long wait, the opening ceremony of one of the most prestigious film festivals across the world – the 49th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) opened amidst the presence of film stars, filmmakers and cine-lovers from across the world amid pomp and gaiety in Panjim, Goa.

The opening ceremony of IFFI 2018 was anchored by Mandira Bedi and Amit Sadh and saw the presence of eminent Indian and international film personalities such as Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Randhir Kapoor, Prasoon Joshi, Julien Landais, Barbara Meier, Nicolas Hau, Lois Robbins, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Robert Glinski, Tom Fitzpatrick, Poonam Dhillon, Hrishita Bhatt, Madhur Bhandarkar, Subhash Ghai, Arijit Singh, Ramesh Sippy, Chin Han among many others. Apart from this, a host of celebrities walked the red carpet, adding a sprinkle of glitz to the ceremony.

The inaugural ceremony of the festival saw dignitaries such as Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Governor of Goa Ms Mridula Sinha, Secretary Information & Broadcasting Mr Amit Khare, IFFI Festival Director Mr Chaitanya Prasad, Chairman Jury Mr Robert Glinski, PWD Minister of Transport & River Navigation of Goa Ramakrishna alias Mr Sudin Dhavalikar, Chief Secretary of Goa Mr Dharmender Sharma and Chairman ESG Rajendra Talak who lit the lamp, thereby declaring IFFI 2018 open.

Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that “India is a land of storytellers where every person has a story to tell. These stories inspire and entertain us. IFFI is a platform for our young generation to showcase their talent. It is a platform for the international filmmakers to see India and explore the talent that we have. It is a great collaboration for both the sides. It is incredible of the Information and Broadcasting team and Entertainment department of Goa to have an event on such a massive scale. There are Masterclasses held by experts in the entertainment industry and I hope the organisation involved is putting it online so that it reaches everyone. We are focusing on the past, the present and the future. Showing films like Sholay and also content from OTT platforms. It is a lovely time to come to Goa since this year we are having street cinema open to the tourists who are visiting the state for the next 9 days and they can experience this at IFFI.” The Hon. Minister said this while walking the red carpet at the opening ceremony of 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa.

PWD Minister of Transport & River Navigation of Goa Ramakrishna alias Mr Sudin Dhavalikar said, “Goa is a state of colours and its effervescent culture and welcoming nature makes it a perfect destination to host IFFI. The festival aims at providing platform for cinema lovers and those from the field of art. At the 49th IFFI, I take this opportunity to thank Hon. CM of Goa, Manohar Parrikar who made sure that Goa got the privilege to host IFFI. He did not leave any stone unturned for its preparation since the first time it was hosted at Goa fifteen years ago.”

Celebrated film star Akshay Kumar, who flew down in a charter plane to grace the occasion with his presence for a few hours, said, “There are so many things happening in India in the entertainment industry. Our Minister Mr. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is doing an incredible job of combining entertainment and education. It is very important to have films which have substance and meaning behind it. I am very thankful to the government that because of such films and initiatives there are lakhs of villages who get information free of cost and trigger massive positive changes.”

The inaugural ceremony also witnessed some mesmerizing audio visual performances which started with a medley dance performance of songs from some of the best Indian films depicting the country’s vibrant history. The versatile singer Shilpa Rao sang popular songs from across the country in multiple languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi and a beautiful rendition of the timeless, “Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo.” Actor Sonu Sood then took over and set the stage on fire with his dance skills.

The most interesting part of the IFFI 2018 opening ceremony was an informal chat between the three luminaries on stage – Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Union Minister of State for I&B), actor Mr Akshay Kumar and filmmaker Karan Johar. Karan Johar engaged the Minister and Akshay Kumar in an informal chat on sports and cinema and their journey through their careers.

Akshay Kumar spoke about his performance as the manager of the Indian Hockey Team in the recently released Gold a film based on India’s historic gold medal win at the 1948 Summer Olympics. Gold is one of the sports based films also screening at IFFI this year as a part of the Sports Biopics section. The Minister spoke about how Indian sportsmen and women are excelling at the international level today and stressed the importance of cinema in building a vibrant sports culture

The opening ceremony of IFFI 2018 also saw the launch of the Web Portal of Film Facilitation Office (FFO) that was launched by Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Union Minister of State (I & B). The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting set up the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) in NFDC in 2015 with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by foreign filmmakers in India, the services of which have now been extended to Indian film makers as well. Film Offices set up by states highlight their film policy, their efforts to ensure a smooth filming process, showcase their locations and acquaint the filmmakers and the fraternity about the incentives/rebates/subsidies offered for filming in their respective states. In order to disseminate information regarding filming in India, the FFO has now developed a Web Portal.

Israeli master craftsman Dan Wolman was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the opening ceremony of the 49th IFFI. While speaking at the occasion, Mr Wolman said, “Thank you for honoring me with the Lifetime Achievement Award which is the highest award that I have ever received. It is sweeter because I am receiving it in India – a country whose people, culture and phenomenal cinema I truly admire. This year IFFI has chosen to focus on Israeli cinema. I am glad the films selected for this reflect the range of Israeli cinema. There is chemistry between India and Israel. I hope this chemistry manifests in co productions and collaborations in cinema.”

The opening ceremony of IFFI 2018 witnessed a host of celebrities descend on the red carpet. This included:

Karan Johar

Akshay Kumar

Prasoon Joshi

Ramesh Sippy

Kiran Juneja

Subhash Ghai

Arijit Singh

Chin Han

Julian Landais

Barbara Meier

Nicholas Hau

Lois Robbins

Madhur Bhandarkar

Siddharth Roy Kapoor

Rakesh Omprakash Mehra

Major Ravi (Jury member)

Rahul Rawail

Robert Glinski

Tom Fitzpatrick

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

Hrishitaa Bhatt

Randhir Kapoor

Poonam Dhillon

While speaking to the mediapersons at the red carpet, the celebrities expressed pleasure for being present at the glittering ceremony and said:

- “IFFI is a very inspiring place and it is a great place for people who worship art and it is a place that showcases high quality cinema from across the world.” – Arijit Singh

- “There is a lot to do in Indian cinema now. There are several platforms now available which is a good thing. We have digital revolution happening in the country. There is lot of content in the digital space, now all we have to do is empower our writers. Akshay Kumar is one of our mega stars and has taken consistently pushed meaningful cinema along with commercial cinema. There is substance as well as an inspiring message in his films. Other stars should also do such socially entertaining films.” – Karan Johar

- “There are so many things happening in India in the entertainment industry. Our Minister Mr. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is doing an incredible job of combining entertainment and education. It is very important to have films which have substance and meaning behind it. Because of such films and initiative there are lakhs of villages who get information free of cost and there are massive changes through it.” – Akshay Kumar

- “I am very happy that our cinema is recognised globally. Our content is getting the exposure on the world stage. We are thankful to the love my family receives and the appreciation my brothers, uncle and everyone gets. Hope to contribute more to the Indian industry.” – Randhir Kapoor

- “I am very optimistic that there are various platforms available now – be it the big screen, television, digital and OTT platforms. Now it is our task to create ideas and quality content. The quality shouldn’t be hampered in the process. We have always been a strong VFX supplier to the international market. Our future for VFX and animation is bright and we should optimise it.” – Siddharth Roy Kapoor

- “Happy to be a part of IFFI. Congratulations to the entire team of IFFI to have such a massive event at a world-class level. There are amazing films featured and shown at Indian Panaroma, some exciting masterclasses to look forward to. I have been part of IFFI since the days of Chandni Bar and continue to be a part of it.” – Madhur Bhandarkar

- “IFFI is a great platform and it grows more and more every year. It is tremendous that regional films are getting recognition and have a platform to showcase. There is one film from Ladakh and another from Lakshadweep. That’s great for any cinema lover.” – Rahul Rawail

- “I am a bit nervous since I am also a part of International Jury this year. Each movie is outstanding and it is difficult to say which one is better. I am a great admirer of V Shantaram’s work and I have learnt from him how one can combine commercial success with artistic expression.” – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

The 49th IFFI will showcase the best of recent International cinema, along with special sections such as Retrospectives, Masterclasses, In-Conversation sessions, Homages, Indian Panorama, International Competition, featuring the best of world cinema produced in the past year, with the aim of providing a platform for young creative minds to interact, view and learn.

The festival opened with the World Premiere of The Aspern Papers, amid the presence of the cast and crew of the film. IFFI 208 will close in similar fashion – with the World Premiere of German film, Sealed Lips.

This edition of the festival will showcase films which reflect diversity of taste. IFFI 2018 will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries which consist of 2 World Premieres, 16 Academy Award nominated films and 6 Indian rare language films. The International Competition section of IFFI 2018 will have 15 films, out of which 3 are Indian films competing for the Golden and Silver Peacock awards. The Competition section itself represents films produced and co-produced by 22 countries. The International Competition jury is headed by renowned by renowned Polish Director Robert Glinski and includes jury members such as Adrian Sitaru, Anna Ferraioli Ravel, Tom Fitzpatrick and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Akin to every year, IFFI will be featuring a Country of Focus that brings out the cinematic excellence and contributions of that particular Country. In its 49th edition of IFFI, the Country of Focus will be Israel. Ten films in collaboration with the Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai, have been selected for the country focus package.

IFFI 2018, for the first time ever, will feature a State Focus section that will focus on the films of one of the Indian States, thus shedding light on the art and culture of that particular state. Jharkhand has been selected as the State of Focus for 49th IFFI 2018 and Jharkhand Day will be celebrated on 24th November 2018 as part of the festival. Movies in the Jharkhand Package include MS Dhoni The Untold Story, Death in the Gunj, Ranchi Diary, Begum Jaan with others.

This year, IFFI has also collaborated with the International Council for Film, Audiovisual Communication (ICFT) Paris, to present a special ICFT prize consisting of the UNESCO Gandhi Medal to a film, which reflects the ideals promoted by UNESCO. This year 10 films will be showcased for selection of a film to be presented with this coveted award, out of which 2 are Indian films.

The Homage presentations at the 49th IFFI will include tributes to the late actors Sridevi, Vinod Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, M Karunanidhi and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi.

Indian Panorama 2018 will screen both Feature & Non-Feature films in Goa at the 49th International Film Festival of India. The feature film jury selected the film OLU directed by acclaimed filmmaker Shaji N Karun as the opening feature film of Indian Panorama 2018. In the Non-Feature film category, Goa’s very own director Aditya Suhas Jambhale will present his film, Kharvas as the Opening film of Indian Panorama 2018.

The ceremony was held at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, Goa, and was aired live on DD National along with live streaming on the YouTube channel of PIB youtube.com/pibindia.

The opening ceremony was followed by the screening of the Opening film of IFFI 2018 – the World Premiere of The Aspern Papers, at Kala Academy.

The 49th International Film Festival of India began today, on 20 November 2018 and ends on Wednesday, 28 November, 2018, in Panaji, Goa.

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