BIFFES: Screenings begin amid heated words

BIFFES: Screenings begin amid heated words

Suneel Puranik, first time  BIFFes chairman, negotiates first-day turbulence

The hosts had just 48 days to prepare for the film festival, Suneel Puranik, chairman of the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy, said on Thursday.

Speaking about the choice of February for the festival, Puranik said the festival could have been held later with more preparation, but he wanted it to conform to international time guidelines.

A popular TV actor, Puranik took over as chairman of the academy, tasked with holding the festival every year, only recently.

Earlier in the day, delegates waited for up to two hours in queues to collect their delegate passes. Some were senior citizens. Many of those who finally got to the counter were told their delegate passes were not available.

One delegate, attending the festival for three years in a row, told Metrolife the Rs 400 senior citizen pass he was entitled to was not issued, and he had to buy a Rs 800 regular pass. He also had to stand in a regular queue, longer than the senior citizen queue.

Puranik apologised for the inconvenience and said by Thursday, glitches would be fixed. “The issue was only with passes. Every other aspect of the festival worked smoothly,” he said.

BIFFes’ Artistic Director N Vidyashankar, also at the press conference, said the government should set up a body to bring more order to the hosting of the festival. This, however, was pooh-poohed by a journalist who said the organisers talk about setting up a festival directorate every year but it never happens.

Serving as BIFFes chairman for the first time, Puranik promised an alternative ‘best system’ in three months. He also faced questions about why the BIFFes inaugural ceremony on Wednesday, with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa as chief guest, was delayed. The 2019 ceremony, chaired by then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, was also delayed by a couple of hours.

Puranik said the flights of singer Sonu Nigam and actor Yash were delayed, and the programme couldn’t start without them. 

Senior citizens angry over long wait

The first day of the Bengaluru International Film Festival started off with some confusion, with delegates having to wait for up to two hours in a queue to collect their entry cards.

Many blamed BIFFes’ programme partner ‘Bookmyshow’ for making the entire process more convoluted than necessary. The collection of passes was to take place in alphabetical order of delegate names, but the counters mixed up the cards, leading to further confusion.

Senior citizens were among the most unhappy, some having to wait hours for their passes.

“What was the point of going online if we had to wait so long?” said a senior citizen who said he had a pacemaker on. There weren’t enough entry passes when some finally got to the front of the queue.

A festival volunteer said many volunteers had also not received their passes. An angry delegate took the issue up with BIFFes Chairman Suneel Puranik.

He tried to calm her down, explaining the problem had cropped up because BIFFes’ had gone environment-friendly. Holding up his card, Puranik said, “These are not made of plastic. The problem is they take three to four days to come from Bombay.”

A heated exchange ensued when the woman delegate insisted on speaking in English to an official. “If you are in Karnataka, you must speak in Kannada,” the official told her. Puranik stepped in to stop the spat from snowballing further.

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