The Tribune, India
December 6, 2004

Strong Canadian presence
Amar Chandel
Tribune News Service

Panjim (Goa) December 6

Canada happens to have probably the strongly presence overall at the 35th International Film Festival of India here. There are 10 feature films and about as many documentaries. While six films are in the Canadian showcase section, four come under the Cinema of the World segment.

Among the most decorated is "The Barbarian Invasions", which won the best foreign film Oscar last year, besides two awards at Cannes.

The cinema of the world is headed by Kodak Prize winning "Manners of Dying".

Equally powerful is Denis Boivin's first feature film, "Hold On To Your Hat". It has done the rounds of at least nine festivals, getting a warm response everywhere. It is the story of an aborigine native who lands into all sorts of trouble while on way to meet his girlfriend in Quebec city. A cat-and-mouse game ensues when a Russian prostitute climbs onto his truck.

Then there is also a rare retrospective of 12 short animated films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Since there is a shortage of 35 mm prints of these films, these are seldom allowed to travel outside Canada.

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Miramar is a huge beach but when Shaan performed there live during the weekend, it was packed by standing-room-only holiday crowd. It seemed that the whole of Panjim thronged the beach to hear the singer belt out some of his popular numbers.

Traffic jams were miles long and Panjim will have to learn how to handle such situations better, if the festival remains here permanently, that is.

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The IFFI has introduced an interesting feature. Young filmmakers below the age of 24 are invited to complete a film in 24 hours and the selected films out of them are then screened everyday between 11.45 am and 12.30 pm at Inox multiplex. The duration can be between 24 seconds and 24 minutes.

Forty wannabe film directors have thus displayed their talent through the 24X7 programme.

The Directorate of Film festivals (DFF) has selected one of the films as the country's official entry for next year's Cannes Film Festival.

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A lot of cultural activity is going around during the festival. Among them is Heritage Jazz Yatra which kicked off yesterday at Gonsalves Mansion at Campal. The main performers are Scott Anderson, Frank Dubier, S. Harikumar and Lester Gordinho.

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Mike Pandey, who is in Goa to chair the non-feature films section of the Indian Panorama, says Indian films should have a new global perspective if they are to aspire for the Oscars. Our films are good but the stories are weak, he feels. They are also overloaded and slow. We should not clutter the films with superfluous inanities. They require more polish because the attention span of the global audience is small.

For instance "Lagaan" could not be in the reckoning for the Oscars seriously probably because it was too long for the jury. Mumbai film-makers, surrounded by their own coteries believe their products are the best and are never willing to take honest criticism from well-meaning evaluators. Mike Pandey is the only Asian ever to have won the prestigious Panda Award - popularly called the Green Oscar - at the Wildscreen Festival in the UK three times over.

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