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Monday, May 19, 2008

Flop Film Festival


AS part of the Goa lament's series, the response to the state film festival and the 'state' of Konkani films in general was expanded upon with great emphasis, vigour and tears. But what was touched upon was not whether things were done right for the film festival and for the promotion of Konkani films in general.

Where was the promotion in the media for the film festival? But for an advertisement and a few press releases much before the event, no buzz was created for the event and it was but natural that it would flop.

Film festivals of this kind are promoted firstly through the film clubs in the city or state, and thereafter, through the colleges and university to make our youth aware by simple posters telling them of the kind of films being shown and emphasising that the screening of all films would be free. The distribution of passes at the various colleges could also be another measure to encourage people to visit the film festival.

Further through the media -- be it print or TV -- there needs to be a build-up for the film festival. Print media should have over the week leading up to the festival carried a synopsis of the films, the director and the principal actors, so that people are made aware of the films to be screened. Similarly, a small promo of the festival and the films should have been prepared and shown on television so that more people are exposed to the fact that there is a film festival to be held in the state.

In contrast, the approach was clearly very governmental and the thinking seemed to be along the lines of – ‘We are holding a festival. Let people come if they want. Moreover, we will be screening Konkani films and the local people should surely come for it. The Goa state film festival is a small festival and we having managed the IFFI, this is small stuff for us.

These are not the correct attitudes since today even for small functions you need to promote them to get sizeable participation from the public. And when the festival flopped, it was easier to blame the public since it is an unnamed or unidentified entity and cannot talk back directly.

The question is -- Did the organisers look inward and see where they themselves failed? If not, why? Because they think they know everything and they are always right? For them, all successes are theirs and for all failures they look for a scapegoat. This kind of attitude does not help in promoting art events like cinema etc. There needs to be more knowledge, more involvement, and more commitment on the part of the organisers.

As regards Konkani films and the poor audience turnout they face whether at festivals or at the theaters, the problem to be attacked is two-fold. First, there should be a government fiat that Konkani films should be compulsorily shown in the state's theaters and at concessional exhibitor's rates and further time slots for this should be set. This ensures that the films will be shown.

The second is that Konkani film producers/directors should realise that as far as the audiences are concerned, there are no free lunches. Meaning that they need to compete with other films that are popular, both Indian and foreign, and which attract audiences. If they are competent with their art and make good films, then people will surely come to watch them. The government as it is has programs for financial assistance for filmmakers and when coupled with mandatory screenings, good Konkani films will come up in due course.

In conclusion, I would like to say that if the entertainment society of Goa is unable to organise a small-scale state-level film festival, then when the IFFI is dumped into their lap fully, I could just imagine how big of a mess they will make.

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