The 26th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), which was scheduled to be held from February 4, 2022, has been postponed. Saji Cherian, Kerala's Minister of Cultural Affairs, said that the decision has been taken in light of the increased spread of COVID-19 in the state. The festival will be held once the situation is better, he said, and new dates will be announced later.
The IFFK, held every year in December, was for the first time delayed in 2020, the year COVID-19 first struck India. It was however held in February 2021, repeating the festival in four regions across Kerala to limit the usually huge audience of the IFFK. With limited delegates and few guests, the 25th edition of the festival, organised by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, followed the protocols of COVID-19. It was a period when fresh cases of the pandemic had noticeably come down after a surge in previous months.
However, the situation has drastically changed this time around. It was not so bad in December when the Academy held the International Documentary and Short Film Festival without incident.
Academy officials had in fact been preparing for the February festival, finalising the movies in various categories, since the pandemic numbers were falling with increased vaccinations. Fourteen films in the Malayalam cinema category and nine others in the Indian section were earlier given out. A few films in the competition category including the Malayalam movies Nishiddo and Aavasavyooham, the Tamil film Koovzhangal and the Hindi/Kashmiri film Be Ches Ne Veth, were also announced.
However, with the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant, cases increased manifold leading to one in three people in the capital and some other districts getting infected. The festival, which is not travelling this time, is likely to attract a bigger crowd, increasing the chances of further spread. This has forced the government to push the dates.