Since its inception in 2004, the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has managed to create a lot of buzz throughout the nation. It is the time of the year when members of the film fraternity grace the land of Goa. Film enthusiasts who also make their presence felt are keenly here to watch the great films shown at IFFI. The film festival is also attended by the members of the Konkani film industry.
Not only does IFFI provide entertainment to the delegates attending the festival but also caters to the local populace. The seafront promenade is decorated like a bride on her wedding day. Food and entertainment stalls dominate the area, along with a giant screen set up at Azad Maidan showcasing movies during the night for free. Also the IFFI venues in Panjim city get a makeover.
Although there have been concerns from the local populace that benefits do not transpire to other sectors in Goa. Questions have been raised whether the ‘International film festival of India’ really provides benefits to Goa? Or is it just an empty exercise conducted every year?
Benefits to Goa
As the buzz around the International Film Festival of India gathers steam, Goa comes into the focus of the nation since many big stars grace the film festival with their presence. This publicity brings Goa into the focus.
Most of the news is positive creating a very good image of Goa nationally and internationally. The news stories provide Goa with the much needed publicity. Some reports have even equated the film festival as a big brand building or promotional exercise for the Goan tourism industry giving Goa indirect benefits.
Although there are a small number of tourism stake holders also benefitting as the delegates attending the festival do require accommodation during their stay and also transport facilities to take them to the venues. it is also a very good chance for the local populace to enjoy world class films at a very low cost. The delegates also go sight-seeing around Goa. This year’s IFFI is slotted to be attended by at least 7000 delegates.
The film festival has also lead to development of permanent infrastructure in Dona Paula which slated to be ready by 2018. The complex is anticipated to be on a par with festivals like Cannes, Berlin etc. Permanent infrastructure can not only be used for the film festival but also other cultural activities in Goa.
People that come for the film festival will stay in a hotel, attend the event and go back. IFFI does get diverse array of individuals from all over the world, doesn’t really do much in the tourism point of view, except maybe providing a few benefits to the host city.
The other aspect to look at is the locals. Not many locals attend IFFI. The locals in Goa do not fancy it. The Goan ‘tiatre’ on the other hand receives loyal support from Goans. The film festival needs to spread out across Goa to encourage the young Goans to participate. There are many clubs around the state that can be utilized to their full potential to help bring cinema to a larger local audience rather than at a particular place.
For the locals who have made and showcased their films at the festival feel their work is being sidelined for the prominent ones. This has certainly brought down the enthusiasm of the local artists.
There have been accusations about a scam. Reports have alleged a certain amount of money being misplaced or unaccounted for when checked on records. The mismanagement of the whole event has also lead to bad publicity.
Goa has poor infrastructure to support such a large event. The city of Panjim faces bad road, garbage and pollution problems on a daily basis. Although the city is cleaned during the event, should that be the only time for Panjim to be cleaned and maintained?
Although there are added benefits to hosting IFFI in Goa like free publicity worth crores of rupees, the local populace is still not convinced that it is worth hosting the film festival. Both parties have valid arguments against each other. It still seems like the festival needs to open up more to encourage participation from the locals. For now Goa seems to be braced to be a good host to the 46th International Film Festival!
Written by Genevieve Fernandes & Shailesh Shriram Tanpure