The Indian film industry over the past two decades has expanded phenomenally. Not only has it become deeply entrenched within the popular culture but the films have become more bold, experimental and innovative, both thematically and technologically.
Owing to this change, there has been a significant rise in the number of film festivals that are organized and hosted in India every year.
The top five film festivals that one must visit are as follows:
The Mumbai International Film Festival
Hosted and organized in Mumbai, the heart and soul of Indian cinema, this festival was started by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) in 1997. The goal for this festival from its very day of inception has been to inculcate the interest and appreciation for quality films amongst the Indian audience.
In addition to screening all kinds of films – Indian, foreign, old and new, documentaries and shorts, it also hosts many short film, documentary and ad film competitions. The organizing team is chaired by the world renowned film maker Shyam Benegal and the list of trustees too includes many illustrious names such as Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi and Farhan Akhtar. The festival is generally organized in October each year.
The International Film Festival of Kerala
The Kerala film festival is organized by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy on behalf of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala. It is one of the most prestigious film festivals in India as it has been recognized by the distinguished Paris based organization FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations).
The festival also hosts one of the most popular competitions for films and documentaries produced in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the festival always attracts renowned international names in its jury.
The Jaipur International Film festival
The Jaipur film festival was launched in 2009 and since then it has been steadily garnering attention from both the masses and the critics. Usually organized in January for five days, the organizers’ mission statement is to open a dialogue between various communities and nations of the world through the medium of cinema.
The Jaipur International Film festival (JIFF) was also allotted a booth at the Cannes film festival in 2011 to promote and advertise itself. Many regional films that have won the competitions organized by the JIFF have gone ahead to win the prestigious national award in the consecutive years.
The International Film festival of India, Goa
IFFI is organized by the Film Division, Government of India. The first festival was organized under the patronage of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 in New Delhi. Over the past decades it has moved to several locations from Kolkata, Bombay to Madras. In 2004, IFFI finalized its base in Goa and since then it has been taking place annually in Goa during the month of November or December.
The IFFI expert committee comprises Pritish Nandy, Nandita Das and Kamal Hasan, amongst many other Indian luminaries of cinema. The IFFI too, has helped in launching many young enthusiastic filmmakers.
The Ahmedabad International Independent Film Festival
The Ahmedabad film festival has been a recent addition to the growing list of film festivals in India. It was launched in 2009 and since then is organized generally during the month of October. The main focus for the organizers is promote awareness about independent film making, both encourage independent film makers and introduce them to the audience. Along with competitions, this festival also hosts script writing, film-making and photography workshops. In 2011, the festival is expected to invite film-makers like Nagesh Kukunoor, Anurag Kashyap and Rahul Bose.
Although Indian film festivals haven’t reached their full capacity with finesse in their brand marketing, credibility, the kind of films the showcase as compared to their foreign counterparts, but all these film festivals will surely evolve and truly help the average Indian cinephile to open to World Cinema rather than simply watching mainstream Bollywood movies.