Delhi hosting first-ever Indian Ocean Rim film fest

Feb 18, 2008

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) India is hosting the first-ever Indian Ocean rim film festival here starting Feb 22 that promises to give an insight into the life and times of people in this strategically important region and seeks to promote a cultural dialogue among them.

"Chak De! India" starring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will be screened as the Indian showcase.

The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) festival will begin with the Australian movie, "Yolngu Boy", about three Yolngu (aboriginal) teenagers. There will be 12 movies showcased during the festival that ends March 1.

Apart from India and Australia, films from Bangladesh, Iran, Kenya, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Africa and Tanzania will be showcased too.

Neelam Kapur, additional director general of the Directorate of Film Festivals, (DFF), said at a press conference: "The package of films for this festival is interesting as it brings to India powerful and politically-sensitive films. We hope this film festival will be a treat to film lovers."

"'Chak De! India' was the most acclaimed film last year. Despite being commercial, it was different. So we thought it should be an ideal film to showcase India in the festival," Kapur added.

She also said although the country hosts the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa every year, it could not cater to the needs of film lovers across the country.

"India is such a diverse country that one film festival cannot cater to all film lovers. That's why we have decided to showcase films that were shown in the Indian Panorama section at IFFI in different cities," Kapur said.

Malay Mishra, joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, said the decision to host the festival was a part of the country's commitment.

"India is one of the largest film producing countries and so it should take the lead. The films will cater to all kinds of problems plaguing these regions like AIDS in Tanzania to insurgency in Sri Lanka," Mishra said.

Of 18 members, only 10 countries are taking part in the festival. When asked why, Mishra said: "Most of the members who are not participating are non-filmmaking nations."

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma will inaugurate the fest at Siri Fort auditorium. Stephen Johnson, director of "Yolngu Boy", is expected to attend the opening ceremony.

"We are expecting the Bangladeshi, Tanzanian and Kenyan directors to join us," Mishra said.

According to him, the budget for the festival is Rs.500,000, to be borne by India. "We are getting most of the films for free, so the budget is not too high," he said.

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Chak De India


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