Drafts, deadlines and behind the scenes at IFFI 2023 in Goa

So many little things go into the making of a film festival. This is a behind the scenes look at IFFI through a different lens ...
So many little things go into the making of a film festival.
So many little things go into the making of a film festival. Photo: Gomantak Times

MAYA ROSE FERNANDES

It’s that time of year when the sunny coastal state of Goa is overrun with the cream of the crop from the global film industry. I’ve been living in Goa for over a decade now, but this is the first time I’ve made it to the International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

In the past, the lack of transport to get to the festival in Panjim and back, the anecdotes from cinephile friends telling me about the long queues and the-hit-and-miss movie selections, and the thought of booking tickets and collecting them from various box office locations fuelled my lack of interest in the whole enterprise.

So many little things go into the making of a film festival.
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I often wondered where the girl who could watch 3 movies a day with ease in her twenties had disappeared. But, this year, something magical happened. Barely a week before the start of IFFI, I was hired as a freelance writer for the reputed IFFI daily.

After a long hiatus of working remotely without an office or a team, it’s been very refreshing to meet and work with one of the most talented groups of writers, editors, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and more.

So many little things go into the making of a film festival.
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We have an office, we’re a busy bunch with a hectic schedule and we work hard to tight deadlines. I’m always amazed by the quality of writing and professionalism that everyone brings to the team. Sometimes, we even get a moment to stock the team space with patties to share.

The most fun for me has been seeing IFFI through a very different lens. Believe it or not, I haven’t watched a single movie yet, but I will. That’s mostly because I’ve been pushing myself to meet daily writing deadlines after interviews that get pushed back to awkward timings, giving one barely an hour or so to draft, edit and submit newsworthy copy.

So many little things go into the making of a film festival.
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Those word limits might be the death of me. I exaggerate, of course. I’ve already gotten to meet some really inspiring and dedicated individuals during interviews, and attended a panel or two.

Speaking to screenwriters, directors, OTT platform heads, producers and actors is quite a deep immersion into the film industry.

In addition to being hired on the writing team, which has got me familiarizing myself pretty quickly with the festival sites spread across Panjim, there is the updated festival app now available, where one can easily book tickets for movies.

So many little things go into the making of a film festival.
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So, the list that gave me reasons to not attend has been taken out from under me.

I’m sure there will be plenty of press articles detailing complaints about the festival. These come out every year and I’m well-familiar with them. But, I have to say that, so far, I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Maybe having nothing to compare it to, in addition to having a specific role to play that enables me to connect with people I’d never meet otherwise from an industry that I’m so disconnected to in my daily life, is the icing on the cake.

All that’s left is for me to actually make time to catch a movie or two now. No more excuses!

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