Saturday, January 10, 2015 - 17:19

The News Minute| December 12, 2014| 1.05 pm IST

If you were asked if you had been to a film festival this year, the apt reply would be “Which one?” This is because the number of film festivals that are organized in any given metropolitan in the country has mushroomed these past few years.

There are currently 36 recognized film festivals that are organized annually in the country, this excluding the private or smaller film festivals that are city specific. This is mainly due to the success of the Cannes Film Festival has inspired many to set up their own, even offering awards to the entries. Each metropolitan city now has an International Film Festival. These festivals run for a minimum of 3 days, screening short, independent films made by Indians and filmmakers from abroad.

Film festivals not only expose us to independent cinema that we would normally not have access to, but also provide filmmakers a platform to showcase their work where mainstream media will not. This specially works in favour of student filmmakers, who can display their work to a wider audience through these festivals.

Ketan Pedgaonkar, a student filmmaker says he supports the sprouting film festivals all around as it gives him and other student filmmakers an avenue to showcase their work to people from the industry. “When it comes to film festivals, I say the more the merrier. Every filmmaker's only point is communication. So if more film festivals will take you to more number of people, why not? And all of them try to get somebody important in the industry to judge the film, so amateur content is also being viewed by the talent hunters. This is creation of opportunity, which is great.”

It is also seen that many industry people come to these festivals to seek out new talent that they can work with. It is a platform for many film enthusiasts and professionals to network. It is due to this the original point of having film festivals may be lost.

Originally, film festivals were place you could come to watch independent thought-provoking films from all over the world. These festivals used to be the sole access point for such films. But now, with the internet in every house and on every phone, the question of accessibility dissolves.

“People used to come to film festivals because they would want to see different cinema, other than what Bollywood or Hollywood had to offer. But now, with the internet, anyone can download any movie and see it from the comfort of their homes” says Ajit Duara, a film critic based out of Pune.

Duara also goes on to say that in today’s times, film festivals have become more of a cultural thing. They have become places where one can meet other people, socialize and connect with cinema as the backdrop.

The Bangalore International Film Festival recently noted that the audience turnout was at an all time low, despite having free passes. The low turnout could be attributed to the presence of internet but it can also be attributed to the kind and quality of the films being shown.

According to Shankar Mohan, the director of the Directorate of Film Festivals, “Films must be curated keeping in mind the audience the festival is catering to. They should match the expectations of the audience, or else the whole point of the film festival is lost.”

So even though, the increasing number of film festivals might be a good thing, lets not forget the old argument of quality versus quantity.

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