IFFI: Inconsequential ostentation or platform for cinematic genius?

IFFI Goa could possibly be the perfect avenue to increase the audience for Konkani cinema
Upcoming stars of Goan cinema
Upcoming stars of Goan cinemaPic credit: Rohan Fernandes

Fr Carlos Luis SAC

Since 2004, IFFI has been hosted in Goa, and one question that is being reiterated is whether IFFI has benefited Goan filmmakers. Many argue that Goa has no cinema culture and, therefore, the move to relocate the International Film Festival to Goa was foolish. 

But the move has immensely encouraged filmmakers from Goa to create and showcase their talent on an international level. If one looks at the history of Konkani cinema, it definitely suggests an upward trajectory. 

The question, therefore, is no longer pertinent. Let us comprehend other perspectives which will root us in the reality of the matter.

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It is possible that we do not have a more vibrant cinema culture due to the already existing delightful tiatr scenario with its live actors performing for a live audience. 

However, Goa has spent a huge amount on the International Film Festival to maintain its grandeur and magnificence, introducing to us a diversity of cinema that has both intellectual and aesthetic appeal.

The question is whether we are truly appreciative of the variety of cinema to which we are exposed. 

Cinema is created all across the world, just for the love of it. Could it be our apathy or lack of appreciation towards the cinema created by others that have a reciprocal effect on the work we create with passion? 

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Today more than ever there is a need for collaboration and forming collectives. Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens says that the secret of humankind’s success is large-scale flexible cooperation.

And it is at events such as these, we are able to broaden our horizons and work out strategies that will help us build Goan cinema. Rajdeep Naik, Jitendra Shikerkar, Rajesh Pednekar, Joywin Fernandes and Suchita Narvekar are all correct when they say that the government only introduces schemes, but hardly keeps its promises, repeatedly failing to disburse the money. 

Another unfortunate factor that may be affecting the market for Konkani films is the fact that there is a limited audience. Many Goan youngsters do not take pride in their mother tongue and veer towards the more popular Hollywood and Bollywood fare.

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In my case, I am extremely passionate about my language Konkani. When I last watched the short film Salt by Barkha Naik and Sadabahar by Suyash Kamat, I felt myself swelling with pride. I have not stopped speaking about the short films to my friends, encouraging them to watch them. 

So, there is an audience, but that audience needs to be earned. We need to keep making more movies, and they need to be movies that will attract audiences beyond territorial boundaries. 

Seeing the trend of Pan-India productions, director and cinematographer Rajiv Menon said, “Audiences have become language agnostic.” And this is very true, given that because of the OTT platforms, the audience has plenty of options to choose from. 

Poster of award-winning film 'Mortoo'
Poster of award-winning film 'Mortoo'

Goan or Konkani cinema may have to focus more on obtaining path-breaking content. 

But are we lacking good content? Aleesha (2004) by Rajendra Talak won a National Award, and later, O Maria (2010), by the same director, became a commercially successful movie. 

After that, there was a succession of good films which received much appreciation. For example, Padri (2005) by Rajesh Fernandes, which won acclaim; and Kazaar (2009) by Richard Castelino, which received Best Regional Film 2009-10 at Karnataka State Film Awards.

'Nachom-ia Kumpasar' still draws in big crowds.
'Nachom-ia Kumpasar' still draws in big crowds.

Tum Kitem Kortolo Aslo? (2012) by Sharon Mazarello went on to be screened at the Addis International Film Festival and Marbella International Film Festival. The Victim (2012) by Milroy Goes became the first theatrical digital film. Baga Beach (2013) by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar won a National Award, and Home Sweet Home (2014) directed by Swapnil Shetkar did well too. There is also Enemy? (2015) by Dinesh P Bhonsle, which won the Best Konkani Film National Award. 

The movie that continues to entertain the state is Nachom-ia Kumpasar (2015) by Bardroy Barretto, which is still popular at film festivals. Mortoo (2015) by Jitendra Shikerkar won awards in the categories of best editor, best actor and best screenplay.

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It was also screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival. K Sera Sera (2016) by Rajeev Shinde made it to the Dhaka International Film Festival with its risky, yet trailblazing storytelling.

Goan cinema although in its nascent stage has always told human and humane stories. The stories have not failed to convince and empower. 

What is necessarily needed is the government’s provision of a platform for Goan filmmakers to efficiently assist them with the required funds to produce films. We need young, innovative and energetic Konkani content producers. The more content there is, the more consumption there will be, adding to the limited Konkani audience and drawing back those who have averted their gaze for what they consider to be a dearth of powerful Konkani cinema.

(The writer is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and currently the mission secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on literature and films that mirror life.)

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