Chandigarh’s debut international film festival to have a CIFF Market: Nina Lath

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New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) Chandigarh, which is set to host its first international film festival — Cinevesture International Film Festival (CIFF) from March 27 to 31 — is not just meant to expose the audiences in the region to around 80 of the finest international and Indian films, but will also boast of a CIFF/market to facilitate the business and craft of filmmaking.

The film festival will open with the Cannes Award-winning French film ‘The Taste of Things’ starring Juliette Binoche, and close with South Korea’s highest-grossing film of 2024 to date — the Horror-Mystery-Thriller ’Exhuma’ (Pamyo) which premiered at the 2024 Berlinale,

More than 15 curated projects by creators with a strong presence in the Indian film industry are being presented at CIFF/market. CIFF will also feature workshops, master classes and panel discussions for the benefit of festival and industry delegates.

“We are expecting a lot of potential producers and filmmakers to come face-to-face. There are also a lot of producers who wish to enter the industry but do not know how to. For filmmakers, it is very tough to raise funds in this industry. And setting up venues and meetings will help,” Nina Lath, Founder & CEO of Cinevesture told IANS in a special interaction.

This former MD of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), who joined the organisation in 2006 after quitting the Indian Revenue Service, was instrumental in giving NFDC a new lease of life. It was under her leadership that NFDC produced or co-produced some very fine films — Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Shanghai’, Qaushiq Mukherjee’s ‘Tasher Desh’, Gurvinder Singh’s debut film, ‘Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan’, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and won three National Awards, Anand Gandhi’s ‘Ship of Theseus’ and Ritesh Batra’s ‘The Lunchbox’.

She also set up the successful Film Bazaar, the Screenwriters Labs and the Viewing Room. Almost every movie in the WIP Lab made it to international film festivals.

“Chandigarh is an interesting city with design as its genesis. In terms of logistics too,it makes a lot of sense to hold something of this scale here. Not to mention the huge student population from across the region that comes here to study,” says Lath, revealing that they want CIFF to be an annual feature though this time they are testing waters.

With films from India, Serbia, France, Bangladesh, and the US besides many in Indian languages including Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Malayalam, she stresses that the audiences will be the main stakeholders. “Precisely why we are doing ‘People Choice awards’ – only they get to decide what works and what does not. Beena Paul, the Artistic Director and VS Kundu, the former Head of the National Films Division of India as the Director of the Film Festival are great assets for CIFF.”

Talking about the Children’s section where they will also be taught how to make films, and a host of workshops and masterclasses that will be organised during the event, Lath adds, “I have always believed that it is paramount for children to be exposed to the arts from a young age. The workshops and masterclasses line-up is very interesting, and we expect excellent participation. For instance, Emmy Award winner Chase Guttman will conduct a workshop on Drone photography and cinematography.”

Talk to her about the current state of independent cinema in India, and Lath is optimistic. She is however not in favour of giving subsidies. ”New filmmakers need support. Filmmaking is not like other arts. A lot of careers are at stake, there is an obligation to make a return on investment. Precisely what, at CIFF, we will be doing a lot of workshops and looking at things from the point of view of producers. It is important to understand how people are responding to movies. Investment in the projects, sales, and the director and the writer are not the only people needed. Everyone needs to have a skill set. There is a gap in demand and supply in terms of skill sets. So. how as a producer does one analyse a script, and we want to address these questions.”

Even as numerous film festivals have started in smaller towns in the country, for example, cities in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, UP and Madhya Pradesh, Lath feels there is a need for more. “This development is healthy. Audiences get acquainted with the fact that there is another kind of cinema that exists too — beyond the mainstream. Even if the scale is small, more such festivals should come up. They precipitate conversations around independent films which is extremely important.”

Lamenting the demise of the film club culture, she feels while there is a need to revive them, they must not restrict their conversations to analysing the films just on the thematic level but also look at production values.



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