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Indian cinema has come of age: Arun Jaitley

MUMBAI: Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs, and Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley has said that the Indian film industry has come of age in view of the linguistic and thematic diversity it offers to film lovers.

Cinema acts as an alternative religion as it entertains, educates, gives a social perspective on issues, offers young growing minds the vision to learn and nurture talent, Jaitley said while delivering his address at the inaugural ceremony of the 45th edition of the International Film Festival of India in Goa today.

Elaborating further, Jaitley said cinema as a medium has matured, and corporatisation of the industry has made it more professional and vibrant.

Reiterated the efforts of the MIB to mainstream the National Film Heritage Mission as a policy initiative, the minister said that this will ensure the digital preservation of Indian cinema. He also highlighted the importance of Goa being made the permanent venue of the International Film Festival of India in the context of its hospitality, growth, natural beauty and cultural diversity.

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was also present on the occasion, said that every effort would be made to host the next edition of IFFI at the permanent venue.

Also speaking on the occasion, I&B secretary Bimal Julka said that IFFI aims to nurture, encourage and inspire Indian cinema and introduce it to the world outside as well as many audiences within the country. Each edition of IFFI facilitates new strategies, thereby ensuring enriched, enhanced and enlarged viewing experience. The vision of IFFI is to provide a common platform to project the excellence of film as an art form. With China being the focus country, Julka said a special package on contemporary Chinese cinema has been created at the festival.

In his address, chief guest Amitabh Bachchan traced the evolution of Indian cinema through its various facets touching on the iconic films in different periods and the dominant themes. Bachchan highlighted the role and relevance of Indian cinema in the context of India’s diversity and plurality.

Jaitley and Bachchan jointly conferred the Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year on superstar Rajinikanth for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema. The prestigious award consisted of a cash prize of Rs 10,00,000, a certificate and the Silver Peacock Medal. The award was instituted last year to commemorate 100 years of Indian Cinema

The international jury for the festival was also introduced at the inaugural ceremony. Jaitley felicitated the jury members including Polish cinematographer Slawomir Idziak; Chinese film-maker Zhang Jianya; Swiss film-maker and head of the International Locarno Film Festival Nadia Dresti; American film critic Marie Brenner; and renowned Indian actress Seema Biswas.

The inaugural leg of the film fest also witnessed the screening of the Swachh Bharat Promotion Film and the Signature Film of the festival. The Signature Film was directed by Shaji N Karun. ‘The President’, directed by Iranian film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, was the opening film of the festival.

The 11-day festival will screen 178 films from 79 countries across different categories including World Cinema (61 films), Masterstrokes (11 films), Festival Kaleidoscope (20 films), Soul of Asia (7 films), Documentaries (6 films), Animated Films (6 films).

In addition, the Indian Panorama section will comprise 26 feature and 15 non-feature films. The Northeast being the focus region of the festival, IFFI 2014 will also showcase seven films from that part of India.

Regional cinema will form an integral part of the festival. Retrospective sections on Gulzar and Jahnu Baruah, special homage films on Richard Attenborough, Robin Williams, Zohra Sehgal, Suchitra Sen, and special tribute to Farooq Sheikh will be the other attractions. A special section of films that focus on dance, personality-based retrospectives and workshops will also form part of IFFI 2014.

The open-air, free screening of Indian films for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis will be a new attraction. Besides the world premieres, IFFI 2014 will offer a repertoire of activities, such as the Film Bazar, 3D film shows, dinners, master classes, panel discussions, stalls and open-air screenings for delegates.