Not many know that Kasaragod, a northern district of Kerala known for its conservative culture, hosted a film festival 25 years ago. Over the years, however, such events became scarce. Even night shows in theatres were stopped in the district some years ago. But three years ago, film buffs in the region found reason to cheer as cinema came back to the district in a big way.
Kasargodinoridam (a space for Kasaragod), a gathering of film and culture enthusiasts, has been conducting an annual international film festival for the past three years. The festival is named Frames- Kasaragod International Film Festival (KIFF) and will be held on December 30 and 31 this year.
The festival, mostly run on crowdfunding, is an avenue for people to familiarise themselves with the world of parallel cinema.
“Not that Kasaragod didn’t have the fabric for movies. A film festival used to be conducted here and we had an active film society. The love for world class movies was something that we lost over the years,” KPS Vidyanagar, one of the members of Kasaragodinoridam, told TNM.
The gathering was formed as a Facebook group in 2015 and registered as an NGO in 2017. Seven friends from the district formed the group; five are working in Gulf countries while two live in Kasaragod.
“Art can be a bridge between people who are politically divided or divided by religion,” Ahraz Aboobacker AK, another member of the group, told TNM.
The films for the fest are selected in consultation with people who are regulars at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK). Kasaragod, being at the northern end of Kerala, often misses out on cultural events in the state. Sharing a border with Karnataka, the people in the district must make an overnight journey to Thiruvananthapuram if they are to attend the IFFK which sees a thriving audience every year.
“The festival is a space for like-minded people to sit together and share ideas. Those platforms are also not common here,” KPS added.
Online delegate registration for 100 people will be allowed this time while in the past two editions, 200 delegates were allowed. “It will be conducted following COVID-19 guidelines. The district administration has given us permission to conduct the fest on ground. But if the state government comes up with more regulations, we will think of doing it online,” Ahraz said.
A short film contest has also been conducted along with the KIFF for the past two years. Awards are given for Best Director, Best Female and Male Actors and Cinematographer in the short film fest.
“For this, we collect films in consultation with online short film platforms, while for feature films, we mostly talk to directors. We try to make sure that the selection is inclusive of all regions across the globe,” Ahraz added.
“People here have distanced themselves from parallel cinema. The love for the art in movies was lost over the years. We want the people, mostly the youth, to become familiar with parallel film movements in the world. We don’t have government-run theatres as in Thiruvananthapuram or similar amenities. We have an amphitheatre here but that is not well-maintained,” Vidyanagar told TNM.
However, the audience in Kasaragod is eager to attend the fest. “The response from film buffs has been overwhelming,” Ahraz said.