The 10th Bengaluru International Film Festival can be regarded as the Asian counterpart of the Berlinale (it follows the latter at the end of February) and a parallel to the Oscars campaign in the US and Europe. The festival was founded in the capital of Karnataka by a group of film buffs (some of them are still in charge of programming) ten years ago and quickly became an official event regionally, nationally and worldwide.
Cinema is perceived here almost like a religious phenomenon. Each film screening starts with the National Anthem. At the Opening and Closing ceremonies, the Anthem of Karnataka was also heard. In the state only more than 200 feature films are produced annually in Kannada language. It explains the complex system of competitions and awards of the festival itself. I headed the jury of the Asian competition, formed by NETPAC. We decided unanimously to give the main award to the Korean social drama, Excavator by Ju-Hyong Lee, written and produced by Kim Ki-duk, about the fate of soldiers forced to fight for unjust causes.
The programme of Indian Films was judged by two juries: one international and the other made up by the Indian section of FIPRESCI. Unfortunately, I missed the Tamil language film, To Let by Chezhiyan Ra, which was awarded the main prize. The two Indian competition films that I saw - Pimpal by Gajendra Ahire in Marathi and Ishu by Utpal Borpujari (also awarded by the jury) in Assamese, confirmed the quality and diversity of the current art-house film production in the different regions of India. Both films have educational potential.
This was reaffirmed by the local production in Kannada, judged by three separate juries - one national, one international and one small jury for film entertainment. The local jury gave three awards, including one for the religious drama Allama by my friend T.S.Nagabharana. We were together in New Delhi at the BRICS Film Festival; he then came to Yalta to chair the Jury of the Eurasian Bridge IFF. Three films were awarded by the entertainment jury – the first prize went to Raajakumara – Santhosh Annanddram's debut film.
The international Jury preferred an intimate story Beti (Daughter) by P.Sheshadri. The Bengaluru experience helped me to understand why the Prime-Minister of India insists on establishing special criteria for selecting and judging films of the region, because they are so different from the current Western productions. One of the main results of this idea was the establishment of the BRICS film festival. After India and China in 2018, it will move to South Africa.
by Kiril Razlogov