The 27th IFFK was held in Trivandrum from 9th December to 16th December 2022. It was an amazing feat, accomplished so successfully by the organizers and the newly appointed Artistic Director, Deepika Susleean. Amazing as both the 26th and 27th editions of IFFK were held in the same year - 2022.
Kudos to Deepika who in a span of 4 months was able to put together a robust programme of nearly 200 outstanding films, inviting several film personalities, and hosting interesting panel discussions and events to enthrall the 15 thousand delegates. She gave a great deal of importance to restoration of films and the restored ‘Silent’ films presented with live music by Johnny Best generated a lot of interest.
The legendary Hungarian director, Bela Tarr delivered the Aravindan Memorial Lecture, it was wonderful to be in the presence of this filmmaker extraordinaire. Bela Tarr was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Iranian filmmaker and women’s right activist, Mahnaz Mohammad was conferred the ‘Spirit of Cinema’ award. Mahnaz had been arrested several times in Iran, the last time while demanding justice for Amini. She could not be present as her passport was expiring so she sent a lock of her hair with her acceptance speech, this gesture was very effective and dramatic at the Opening Ceremony.
Serbia was Country in Focus and Emir Kusturica was honored with his films in the section ‘Chaos and Control: Films of Emir Kusturica’.
The other special sections were ‘The Surreal Cinema of Allejandro Jodorowsky’; ‘Retrospective of Paul Schrader’; 50 years of ‘Swayamvaram’ by Adoor Gopalakrishnan; Restored Classics; and ‘Light & Shadows of F.W. Murnau’ among others. The festival opened with the heartwarming film Tori and Lokita by Dardenne brothers. The Best film Award went to Utama, a gem, by Alejandro Laoayza Grisi from Bolivia.
Some outstanding films by Asian filmmakers were presented in the Auteur Odes section. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker; Call of God, the last film by the hero of IFFK, Kim Ki-duk; No Bears by Jafar Panahi; the roller coaster adventures of Giwar ‘Xatar’ Hajabi in the biopic, Rheingold by Fatih Akin; two films by the prolific Korean filmmaker Hong Sang Soo, The Novelist’s Film (winner of the Silver Bear Grand Jury Award, Berlinale 2022) and Walk Up; Lav Diaz’s When the Waves are Gone. The award winning film Kerr by Tayfun Pirselmoglu was a visual delight, each frame a painting. It is the first time that the director adapted one of his own books which he had written in 2014. It won the Best Director award. Another film which needs to be commended is A Place of Our Own (Ek Jagah Apni) by Ektara Collective. Aa strong film about two trans gender women, the challenges they face as they struggle to be accepted by society, which will not let go of the strong stigma it holds against therm. Manisha Soni and Muskan (lead actors) of the film received Special Mention from the main Jury for their natural and powerful acting, and a Special Mention from FFSI Jury.
The films for the NETPAC jury were eclectic and diverse representing their respective regions with vivid descriptions of the problems people face in daily life, about migration and relationships. Out of the 10 films in the Asian Competition, six were debut, some films in the Malayalam Cinema today were also debut films. In total there were 24 films to judge and that is a large number for any jury!
Our jury gave the NETPAC award to Alam Firas Khoury’s debut film. The film about the coming of age and political awakening of the Palestinian protagonist living in Israel, is extremely well acted by Mahmood Bakri. Alam was also awarded the Best Debut Director by the main Jury.
The NETPAC Special Mention went to Our Home (Eikhoigi Yum). A family living on the picturesque Loktak Lake in Manipur and barely surviving on fishing is given an eviction notice by the Government. The repercussions of this notice on the family and their livelihood have been captured realistically by the director as he highlights the disasters of globalisation. Our Home also won the FIPRESCI Award, International Competition Section.
We awarded Declaration (Ariyippu) the Best Malayalam Film award. The trials and tribulations of a family from Kerala working in a factory in North India. The film makes a powerful statement about the plight of women both at work and at home and migration per se.
Our difficult task of seeing 24 films was made easy by the wonderful hospitality extended by the IFFK team! Nina and Jayasree will join me in saying that being on the NETPAC Jury at the 27th IFFK was an exhilarating experience!