The 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), reckoned as one of Asia’s oldest and India’s biggest film festival, gets underway in Goa on Sunday.

The nine-day festival will be shorter as compared to the 11-day event held in the past. According to festival director K. Senthil Kumar, the 2016 version is more pruned and has more qualitative programming, including several films which are in the running for the Academy Awards, as well as a promising selection of films screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

The event will get underway when Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurates it in the presence of Bollywood director Ramesh Sippy at a glittering ceremony at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium on the outskirts of the state capital on Sunday.

“There is a slack in attendance if we stretch it for 11 days. Guests generally try to come for a package of three or four days and then go out. So, we try to give them a four-day package so that they stay in nine days and within those nine days we will try to include more number of films,” Kumar told reporters at a press conference in Panaji.

“We have dropped some sections, which were not according to the programming format and we have tried to include new formats. So programming has been reworked with more number of films…. Quality of content will be higher than last year,” Kumar said.

IFFI, which was launched in 1952, is being held annually in Goa since 2004 and is organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals and the Entertainment Society of Goa, which function under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Goa government respectively.

This edition of the festival includes more than 300 films from 90 countries, although Kumar said that no Pakistani film will be screened in this year’s edition because entries from the neighbouring country, which has shared a simmering relationship with India especially in the recent past, did not make the cut.

“We had some entries from Pakistan in the selection process. Last year, we had Pakistani films selected, but this year the selection committee decided that the film was not up to the mark,” Kumar said.

At this year’s edition, the opening film will be “After Image”, a movie directed and written by Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda, who died earlier this year.

The film is a biopic of master artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, while the festival’s closing film is “Age of Shadows” by Kim Jee Woon from South Korea. South Korea is the special focus country at the 47th edition of IFFI and several films from the Asian country will be screened at the event. Incidentally, Woon’s film is the official entry from South Korea at this year’s Oscar awards.

The Indian Panorama section of the festival will open for the second consecutive year, with a Sanskrit film “Ishti”, directed by G. Prabha and will screen 22 films.

One of the most important and coveted sections of the festival, the International Competition section will feature some of the top films of the year, some of which have been celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival and are entries to the Academy awards. Indian films “Sahad Paather Gappo” and “Ishti” will also be competing in this section.

The other films competing under this section are “According to Her”, “Daughter”, “House of Others”, “I, Olga Hepnarova”, “Mellow Mud”, “Nelly”, “Personal Affairs”, “Rauf”, “Scarred Hearts”, “The Last Family”, “The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis”, “The Throne” and “The Student”.

Festival juries will pick out the best film, best director, best actor-male, best actor-female and a special jury award from the selection in the International Competition section.

In order to promote young directorial talent globally, IFFI 2016 will award a prize for the year’s best young debuting director.

“IFFI has decided to recognise young and upcoming talent from across the film world and will award the centenary award for best debut film of a director,” Kumar said.

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