Marking a return after a gap of two years, the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema proved to be the biggest film event in the country with as many as 176 films from around 38 countries from India, Asia and the Arab world.
The Film festival which was held in New Delhi from 27 July to 5 August 2012 at Siri Fort Complex and the Blue Frog at the Kila Complex, had 15 World premieres, 8 International premieres, 104 Indian premieres, and 13 Asian premieres. The screenings included 61 shorts.
The films were shown within a framework which focused on Freedom of Creative Thought and Expression – the special theme for this year according to Osian’s Group Chairman Neville Tuli.
The OCFF is organized by the Osian’s Group in collaboration with Delhi Government. But this year, the OCFF also received cooperation from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Morarka Foundation, the Tourism Ministry’s Incredible India campaign, Blue Frog among others.
Renowned Egyptian film critic Samir Farid received the Lifetime Achievement Award named after the Festival’s founder Aruna Vasudev. He later delivered a lecture on film criticism.
A new component this year was the introduction of music with performances by renowned artistes every night at Blue Frog under the shadows of the Qutab Minar.
Osian’s is establishing an Osianama Arts complex for promoting art and good cinema culture is coming up in the Kila Complex in Delhi by September, according to Festival Director Indu Shrikent.
The Japanese film ‘Asura’ by Keiichi Sato of Japan opened the Festival on 27 July and the Bengali film ‘Chitrangada’ by Rituparno Ghosh was the closing film. This film had Indian premiere at the OCFF.
The Asian and Arab competition with twelve films were judged by Marco Mueller who is Artistic Director of the Rome Film Festival. Members included the eminent Muzaffar Ali, Iranian filmmaker Ali Mostafa, Egyptian director Magdi Ahmed Ali, and the American filmmaker James V Hart.
Mr Mueller delivered the first Mani Kaul Memorial lecture on 29 July and Mr Hart held a master class on 2 August which was marked as Horror day because of the genre in which he has specialized.
The Indian jury which saw nine films was headed by Iranian filmmaker Hamid Dabashi, Indian director and film critic Khalid Mohammed, renowned actor Lillete Dubey, Ms Annemarie Jacir from Jordan, Afghan-born filmmaker Atiq Rahimi, and Dutch documentary filmmaker Sonia Herman Dolz.
The First Features Jury judging nine films had eminent filmmaker Huseyin Karabey, Korean actor and writer Jeon Kyu-hwan, and Indian filmmaker Gurvinder Singh.
The shorts competition jury which judged 12 films comprised Iranian filmmaker Panah Panahi, independent Indian filmmaker Ashvin Kumar and National Award-winning filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni.
In addition, there was a jury set up by the international federation of film critics, FIPRESCI, which has Klaus Eder of Germany, Dr Shoma A Chatterji of India, and Egyptian film critic Tarak el-Shinnawi.
In all, there were around sixteen press conferences and thirteen celebrity interactions at the ‘Deewar’ in the Green Corridor, featuring over fifty film personalities, apart from a large number of media interactions. The Deewar was the Wall of Celebration which marked a centenary of Indian cinema.
Known for its bold programming and relentless innovation in introducing new cinemas to Indian audiences, OCFF showed some films that turned out to be milestones in the fight for freedom of expression. These included five features and two documentaries.
Participating countries included China, Estonia, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco and Algeria among many others.
Some of the highlights of the Festival were:
· Film Craft: the Art of Animation – This year Osian’s Cinefan began its engagement with the history and contemporary practices of the animation film with a special focus on Animation from Estonia and animation workshops by Priit Tender from that country.
· Launching of 7.4: Focus on Environmental Films – A focus on the world’s best filmmaking dedicated to the causes of environmental & heritage preservation. This is expected to lead to a full-fledged festival on the environment from next year.
. Festival Summit: ‘Delhi as India’s Next Cinema City’ – A two-day summit which brought together the Government of India, the Government of Delhi, the Indian film industry and various state and non-state cultural agencies to discuss the way forward to develop Delhi as India’s next Film City. Osian’s announced its aim to create an art and cultural hub with cinema as an important component.
· Freedom of Expression – The section included a set of five Landmark films from the history of cinema made against prevailing censorship norms – Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh-Thi’s Baise-Moi, Shuji Terayama’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup, the Devika Rani-Himanshu Rai starrer Karma and Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film. Most of these films went to full houses.
· Tribute to Mani Kaul – A salute to the multifaceted contribution of Mani Kaul to the world of cinema, music, art and literature and the launch of the annual Mani Kaul Memorial Lecture.
The inaugural lecture was delivered by Marco Mueller, Director of the Rome International Film Festival. Mani Kaul had been associated with Osian’s and had been Director of the 11th OCFF.
· Tribute to Koji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi – A set of seven films were shown as a tribute to the illustrious careers of Japanese revolutionary filmmakers Koji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi.
· Children at Osian’s Cinefan – Curated events were planned exclusively for children. These include master classes on animation and daily film screenings.
· Short Films – The festival screened 61 short films.
· Youth at Osian’s Cinefan – New Stream, Short Features, Master classes, First Features and Events at the Blue Frog were specially programmed to engage the youth in specific activities and debates and discussions.
· Celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema:” The Divas of Indian Cinema – 100 Years of Beauty and Grace” – Exhibition from the Osianama Archives honouring the Divas of Indian Cinema marking the year-long celebrations for the 100 years of Indian Cinema.
· 1st Osian’s Cinefan Auction of Indian Cinema Memorabilia – The finest and rare artifacts and publicity material from Indian Cinema were auctioned on 31 July. Setting a new landmark, the Auction turned out to be a grand success with sales of Rs 6.955 million and 86% Lots sold with records established across all types of publicity material and memorabilia.For the first time the auction received generous participation from the film fraternity and cinema enthusiasts and saw lively competitive bidding from the floor and telebidders which enthralled the attendees.
· The Turtle at the Blue Frog – There were five events which included panel discussions, film screenings, and high profile Q & A sessions with Festival guests at the ‘Osian’s Cinefan Adda’. Specially curated musical and performance events were held from 10 pm onwards every day, featuring around ten bands and artistes.