New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Over 200 feature and short-fiction films from around 40 countries proved to be a visual treat at the 10th edition here of the Osian’s Cinefan Film Fest of Asian and Arab cinema. Apart from the numerous screenings and premieres, the 10-day festival, which concluded Saturday, organised press conferences, seminars, discussions and talent workshops where delegates, journalists and media students from around the world participated and shared their experiences.
While the well-organised gala saw hordes of people appreciating the selection of movies showcased and the warm welcoming of the guests, certain glitches did not miss the eyes of the audience and visitors alike. The main focus of the event in its present edition was to highlight the synergy between literature and cinema, over which many professionals expressed their outlook on a common platform.
“I have seen a certain growth in the festival. The number of films has of course increased this year and the international guest list has increased from 250 to 300 since last year. “Earlier it was principally about Asian and Arab films and this time even Hollywood renowned scriptwriter-director Paul Schrader visited our festival,” Latika Padgaonkar, joint festival director of Osian’s told IANS.
The opening film from Hong Kong “Sparrow” pulled a massive crowd of people and so did Pakistani film “Ramchand Pakistani” that drew a house-full for all the three shows that it was showcased. Paul Schrader’s “Taxi Driver”, the queue for which reached the foyer entrance of the Siri Fort auditorium, also received an impressive response.
This year a lot of new additions and changes in the fest were seen in the form of hiked ticket prices, the allowance of mobile phones in the hall, new award categories, new sessions and new ideas. Even the award money this year was raised to over Rs.10 million for the competition sections and the lifetime achievement awards.
A major highlight of the event was the unveiling of the scale model of the Osianama – Osian’s flagship cultural complex to be built in Mumbai and the costliest painting by master craftsman Raja Ravi Varma worth Rs.60 million to be housed in the Osianama. Though the fest initially saw a slow start, it gained momentum towards the weekend following the opening ceremony. People from all age groups and careers swarmed the gala to quench their thirst for world cinema.
Even Bollywood actors including Ranvir Shorey, Konkona Sensharma, Nandita Das, Rahul Bose, Raima Sen and others graced the event. They either came to watch and promote their own film or just to catch up on other films. “I am free right now. Not shooting anything, so I came here to catch up on the latest movies. I was supposed to leave on Thursday, but I extended my visit. So far I have seen seven-eight films. Today is the last day and I am trying to see as many films as possible. The movie package is very interesting this time. This is my second year at Osian’s,” said Sriram Raghavan, director of critically acclaimed movies like “Ek Hasina Thi” and “Johnny Gaddar”.
There were slight apprehensions among the crowd in terms of the rise in ticket prices but gradually that did not deter them from queuing up to get hold of tickets to almost every show. There were some regulars like 26-year-old Abhishek Srivastav, a product designer based in Delhi, who took complete advantage of the festival. “The event has been great! I have got to see some wonderful films like ‘Sparrow’, ‘Taxi Driver’ and others,” he said.
Osian’s also acquired the world’s largest collection of lobby cards on world cinema collected discreetly by the late Leonard Schrader that was on display at the venue. Neville Tuli, founder chairman of Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art, who missed the closing ceremony of the event, took over the reins of the fest from Aruna Vasudev who founded the Cinemaya Festival of Asian cinema in 1999.
However, Indu Shrikent, the other joint director of the event, confessed that the gala still had room for improvement and said: “There is still scope for improvement in our fest, especially our projection facilities, but the festival was very satisfying and it was wonderful.”