BIFFes 2019: what day 1 was like

On the first day of screenings at BIFFES, Bengaluru seemed more than happy to welcome its beloved festival back.

Everyone seemed confused about which film to pick, some torn between two or more good films, and some having to pick between films they don’t know anything about.

“That looks interesting” is probably the single most heard sentence at Orion mall, where the screenings are taking place. And it’s likely to remain that way for another week.

The confusion was probably why some people in the selection panel were in hot demand at the venue.

The word had gotten out as to who the members of the selection panel were, and those in the know were happy to spread the word.

When DH caught up with one of the members of the panel, he was a bit reluctant to talk at first because the members were asked by the government not to speak to the media.

He, however, told us that as part of the selection committee, he had watched about 300 films as part of the process of deciding the final 225.

He told DH that his main criteria for selecting films were how acceptable it would be to a vast audience.

“These are theatres that can seat up to 300 people. The films shouldn't be for just 2 people, he said.

He quickly clarified that this doesn't mean that this entertainment was the criteria for selection. “In fact, we have kept out the Bollywood-Hollywood sort of film”.

“Sure, we have included the Oscar winners, but more importantly, we made sure to include Oscar nominees in the foreign-language section as well,” he said.

There were no uniform criteria that were followed by all members of the panel.

The member that DH spoke to said he had avoided films with excessive nudity “keeping an Indian sensibility in mind”.

“Because many such scenes are unnecessary. In one film that we watched, the first 30 minutes or so had  excessive nudity, where women were being objectified. Films make sense even without such scenes,” he said.

He also said that apart from aesthetics, the topicality of the films were also a criterion for their selection.

“Given that environmental disasters and the #MeToo movement were being discussed, I made sure that I selected films that reflected these issues,” he said.

Even during the interview, people would come to him for a minute or so and would ask him for recommendations.

After one such person left, he told this reporter: “Sometimes I tell them what to watch depending on who they are. I may have recommended this film to him (pointing out a film in the timetable) for the 2 PM slot, but to a young lady who asked me before this, I recommended this (points to another film in the same slot) because that was a women-centric film”.

 

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