Film fests no longer the exclusive domains of art movie makers

The long-held notion that film festivals are ‘melas’ for makers of "art" or "parallel" cinema alone seems to be getting outdated as they are beginning to receive greater co-operation and participation from the mainstream industry as well.

For instance, the 14th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK),drawing to a close,has turned out to be as important an event for Malayalam cinema as forfilmmakers and viewers, who look at cinema as a serious creative endeavour without being ruled by commercial concerns alone.

Many viewers,invitees and delegates attending IFFK feel the borderline between art and commercial films are increasingly getting blurred, as all those who approach the medium are basically looking for 'good cinema.'
Still there are voices of concern that quality of films screened in festivals from India and abroad are not up to the expected levels.
"It is true people’s participation in festivals like IFFK is increasing every year.Even those who used to shun festivals just as events to screen art films have begun to actively participate in them", eminent director Shaji N Karun said.
Though he saw it as a positive development, he is sceptical about the quality of films selected for popular festivals like this and is unwilling to buy the argument that the demarcation between good cinema and commercial cinema has got effaced.
"I don’t think a change has happened in the basic visual language of both Indian and world cinema. Don’t jump to conclusions by seeing films screened at IFFK," he said.

Shaji, whose recent Mammootty-starrer “Kutty Srank” was appreciated at Montreal and Pusan international festivals, said he did not think all films shown in IFFK were of high standard.
State award winning actress Priyanka strikes a different note, saying she has been attending IFFKs since college and that viewers' attitude to festivals has changed a lot over the period. "It was approached as a show of a particular group of artists or directors before," she said.

These days, differences between mainstream and parallel films are slowly disappearing from film festivals, especially in IFFK,she said."Even those who make blockbusters now attempt films in different formats. And such movies are also screened in festivals," she observed.
"In my opinion there is nothing called commercial movies or art films, but only 'good movies and 'bad' movies", she said.
With advancement of technology and fast paced lives, the visual language of films had also changed. Many movies screened at the IFFK were good examples of that, she said.

According to popular director Renjith, the gap between art film makers and mainstream directors used to be very wide. Also amateurish works in a monotonous narrative style kept audiences away from festivals then.
Festivals like IFFK were once considered an exclusive realm of 'art' film makers and mainstreamers were wittingly or unwittingly kept away to a certain extent. "Things have changed.Even while remaining part of the commercial film world directors are thinking of making good movies with artistic value without compromising viewer appeal,"he said.
"As far as I am concerned, I am a regular at all major festivals. Even while taking blockbusters,I dream of directing good movies matching classic standards and quality," Renjith, whose recent film "Paleri Manikam", was based on novel by T P Rajivan, said.
"I believe the festivals help film enhusiasts understand the changes happening in world cinema. They have now realized what is a real movie without sacrificing quality", he said.
Producer Aryadan Shoukath feels mainstream film directors can be classified into two groups, those who are solely led by commercial success and others who seek to combine both artistic value and box office success.

Directors in the second category could easily understand the visual language and the quality of good films from around the world screened at festivals. Naturally, they enthusiastically participate in festivals and try to extract something out of movies they see there, he said. "The future of Malayalm films is in the hands of such directors," he said.
Shoukath,who has produced films on themes like threat posed by communalism and terrorism to social harmony, believes the genre once tagged as "parallel" has also changed a lot over the recent years.

"Through festivals like IFFK, we have realized such films are not lagging or monotonous.. Style of narration and visual language have also moved to new planes, making them appealing to any category of audience sensible enough to follow good films," he added.

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