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Celebration of Global Cinema & Creativity

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54th IFFI commences in Goa

By HARISH SHARMA

Goa, 21 Nov: The 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has commenced its enchanting journey in the picturesque coastal landscape of Goa, marking the onset of a grand celebration of cinematic excellence and storytelling. The festival’s inaugural ceremony on Monday set the stage for a mesmerising nine-day affair dedicated to the world of cinema, showcasing a diverse array of films that encapsulate cultural richness and diverse narratives from across the globe.

The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of Bollywood luminaries, including the legendary actress Madhuri Dixit, who was honoured with the ‘Special Recognition for Contribution to Bharatiya Cinema’ Award by Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports Anurag Singh Thakur, alongside MoS Information & Broadcasting Dr L Murugan, and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur announced pivotal measures and initiatives aimed at bolstering India’s position as a prominent destination for film production. Noteworthy announcements included:

– Incentives for Foreign Film Production: The government increased the incentive for foreign film production in India from Rs 2.5 Crore to Rs 30 Crore, demonstrating India’s commitment to fostering artistic expression and reinforcing its status as a preferred cinematic hub.

– ’75 Creative Minds of Tomorrow’ Programme: A recruitment drive under this programme opened doors for young talents in the filmmaking arena, offering opportunities for career growth and innovation.

– Introduction of Best Web Series (OTT) Award: Recognising the transformative role of original content creators, IFFI introduced the ‘Best Web Series (OTT) Award’ to celebrate their contributions to employment and innovation.

– Expansion of Film Industry: Goa Government’s commitment to setting up a film city in the state aimed at amplifying the filmmaking industry’s reach and potential.

The festival’s agenda includes various ‘firsts’ such as the inclusion of the Best Web Series (OTT) category, the introduction of a Restored Classics Section featuring meticulously refurbished masterpieces, and the inauguration of the Cine-Mela, celebrating India’s diverse regional films, food, music, and culture.

Additionally, IFFI 2023 emphasises inclusivity by providing specially-abled-friendly facilities and hosting special screenings, aligning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas —’Sabka Manoranjan.’

The festival will culminate with the presentation of the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award to Hollywood actor-producer Michael Douglas in recognition of his significant contributions to the film and television industry.

The inauguration ceremony was graced by the presence of Union Ministers and prominent personalities from the film fraternity, setting the stage for a festival filled with captivating films, engaging discussions, and shared passion for storytelling.

The 54th IFFI promises a captivating cinematic experience, embracing diversity, and celebrating global narratives, reaffirming its stature as one of Asia’s most prestigious film festivals.

“Lioness” film’s poster unveiled at IFFI Film Bazaar Knowledge Series Panel

By OUR STAFF REPORTER

Goa, 21 Nov: “Lioness”, the first official UK-India co-production film by writer-director Kajri Babbar, revealed its first poster at the IFFI Film Bazaar. The event was attended by Prithul Kumar, Joint Secretary, Films and NFDC; Agnieszka Moody, Head of International Relations at BFI; and actress Aditi Rao Hydari during the Knowledge Series Panel discussion on the co-production journey of both countries.

“Lioness” narrates the story of two women who lived a century apart. The first chronicle revolves around the Suffragette Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the granddaughter of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and the god-daughter of Queen Victoria. This role will be portrayed by the prominent British-Asian actress Paige Sandhu. The second story introduces a fictional character, Simranjeet Kaur, living in Southall in the early 1990s, to be played by renowned Indian actress Aditi Rao Hydari.

“Lioness” is actively backed and supported by both NFDC in India and BFI in the UK. The film is produced by Shahnaab Alam, an established producer from India credited for several acclaimed films, and Vaishalli Paatil, an established producer from the UK. It is backed by Executive Producers Clare Cahill and Peter Bance.

The international debut of Khatija Rahman as the Music Director is marked by “Lioness”. In 2020, Khatija released her first independent single, ‘Farishton,’ a meditative and mesmerising piece promoting solidarity, cultural harmony, and the acceptance of diversity. This single was composed and produced by her father, the renowned maestro AR Rahman. Khatija’s past collaborations include featuring alongside various artists on Grammy Award-winning composer and environmentalist Ricky Kej’s song ‘Iltaja,’ conveying a message of sustainability. Recently, she collaborated with Arivu for the widely circulated hit track ‘Sagavaasi’ for Coke Studio Tamil 2023 edition. Currently, Khatija Rahman is working on scoring her Tamil feature film titled ‘Minmini.’

“Thrilled and honoured to be a part of ‘Lioness.’ I connected deeply with the film’s values from the moment I heard its compelling story and the reason behind bringing her story to life. Our aspiration is to ensure that Princess Sophia’s struggle receives the long-overdue recognition it truly deserves,” said Khatija.

Apart from Aditi Rao Hydari and Paige Sandhu, the cast of “Lioness” features an impressive lineup of established actors from both India and the UK. Highly experienced professionals from both countries form a formidable team for the film.

“Lioness” will commence principal production in the first quarter of next year, aiming for a global release in early 2025.