Since the time Goa has become a permanent venue for the International Film Festival of India (IFF), there has been a boom in the tourism industry in the state, and the reason behind this is the meticulous organization of the festival every year. If you look into Goa’s past, there was no festival that would boost tourism prior to the IFFI, especially at the end of November and the beginning of December; except for the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, which takes place during the first week of December every year, and pulls a huge crowd from across the world. Nevertheless, IFFI helped in boosting the local film industry and talent by giving them an opportunity to showcase their work on such a reputed platform. In a way to find out what is different this year at IFFI, the Editor of Incredible Goa met the CEO of ESG Mr Amey Abhayankar, and you will be surprised to know that IFFI has loads of surprises for you this year.

There were some hiccups in the beginning of the festival,  but this time controversy triggered due to an expulsion of two films from screening at IFFI in the last moment. This led to a senior official to resign from the IFFI committee. But besides this one incident, everything else this year brings only the better picture of the festival in front of the delegates. FFI in Goa is getting better with the time. Every year it brings some new surprises, and this time the theme is a big surprise for the audience. The festival’s theme will be based on regional cinema, informed the CEO of ESG, Mr Amey Abhayankar. “I believe this year, as compared to last, there is a lot of resilience form regional film industry, and also from Bollywood,” he said adding that popular Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan has confirmed his presence followed by Amitabh Bachchan’s facilitation. One more development that has taken place this year is that many of the stalwarts from regional films will be representing their states in this festival. “This year the focus will be on the future of cinema, and to do that, for the first time, IFFI will be collaborating with Samsung, and the entire section will be dedicated to the AR and DR which will help in improving the panel discussion and experiences,” said Mr Abhayankar, who is known for encouraging startups. He decided to include many startups at IFFI this year and for that, he selected 12 such companies in association with CIBA in Assagao and Verna to showcase their products related to media and entertainment.  When about the idea of combining startups with the IFFI, which is the completely new idea, Mr  Abhayankar said, “We will encourage the startup from the digital content distribution platform, which will be related to new technologies in cinema. According to me, these are essential products and services coming out of startups. So they will be coming, and showcasing the tech part of the film festival, and it is going to be a regular feature throughout the festival.”
Mr Abhayankar assured that this year, the festival will bring more richness to the panel discussions. But when I asked him about the expulsions of two movies, Sexy Durga and Nude, from the festival this year, he said that it won’t be fair on his part to comment on this issue, since this does not come under his field, and the same has been looked by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, and that they have addressed the issue suitably. “The programming of the festival is done at the Central Government level, and  I think there is unnecessary hype has been created around this issue, as there are valid reasons given by the government on why such decisions were taken.” When the issue of holding such a big festival arises, there are hundreds of things that can go wrong. But, when the same happens with the government, they always face a backlash from media and the people. Something similar had happened in the last years due to confusion surrounded by the distribution of the media kits. When I asked Mr Abhayankar about the same, he said that this time they have taken extra precautions, and made sure their mistakes are not repeated. “This time we have made a separate entrance for people with disabilities or difficulties, and we have made a huge entrance gate for film personalities. The courtyard of INOX will be used as the entrance gate for the media and general delegates separately. We will try and make use of the space available between INOX theatres and Old GMC building by placing the seating system for the film delegates,” he said. “This year the entire decoration and the lightening system have been taken to the next level by making the best use of the natural beauty of the areas from Kala Academy to Old GMC building to the Mackenzie palace,” said Mr. Abhayankar adding that, “The issue of rickshaws will also be sorted out this year by placing them around 10m away from the entry and exit point, and we have made arrangements in such a way that when one rickshaw leaves from the exit point another will come and replace it. Apart from that, we are almost on the verge of finalizing with Goa tourism to allow our delegates to acquire the Hop-on-Hop-off at a reasonable rate of rupees 50-100 per person whereas normally they charge Rs. 300.”
Besides the above, this time ESG has also made arrangements with select hotels in Goa for film delegates and other people coming to Goa for IFFI. “We have tied up with some hotels to have a discount for the delegates who are coming from outside Goa, and the hotels have assured that they will provide 10-30% discounts to the IFFI delegates,” he said. The hotel s picked range from five-star category to two stars, one that suits everyone’s budget. The main purpose behind this is to make sure that the delegates have a better experience this time. This time the numbers of ticket counters have also been increased. Mr Abhayankar feels that the general delegate fee is justified because every delegate watches 3 to movies per day with the ticket cost around Rs. 150 per movie, that makes the fees of Rs. 1200 for 10 days quite reasonable. “Besides that, they also get an opportunity to interact with various film personalities and workshops. If they go to attend those workshops across the country it would cost them much more,” he said adding that until now, around 4000 delegates have confirmed their participation with payments and by the time festival begins, this figure will go up to 7000.
Media will get privilege this time by having a separate entrance beside the provision for refreshments, high-speed wi-fi and seating system in the arena made for them at ESG. With the all of the above in the place, it looks like this year’s IFFI will be very promising, with new avenues opened for the students of mass media. Let’s look forward to having a great experience at the 48th IFFI!