The Indian film festival schedule, too, bears the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis with major festivals facing financial crunch and are now mulling downsizing, going digital, postponing and even being cancelled.
The global film festival calendar has taken a massive hit amid the Covid-19 pandemic – the Cannes Film Festival has been cancelled, the Tribeca Film Festival has moved online after postponement, and so has some part of the Locarno Film Festival after its cancellation. The Indian film festivals, too, have faced the brunt of the situation with major events facing financial crunch and are now mulling downsizing, going digital, postponing and even being cancelled.
The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), has grand plans for their 25th year event to be held in December in Thiruvananthapuram with attendance from luminaries from the world of cinema as well as the government of Kerala promising extra funds to mark the milestone. But, chairman & festival director of IFFK, Kamal shares, “The culture minister of our state has asked us to wait for some time till they’re able to get a clearer picture. We don’t want to cancel our silver jubilee event. We’re ready to push it to January or February before the state assembly elections in April.”
The 12th International Children’s Film Festival has been postponed till further notice, festival director V Kurian has said.
Filmmaker Goutam Ghose, a member of the organizing committee of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) set to happen in November, says it’ll depend on lockdown extension besides the financial position of the market. “Even though KIFF is fully sponsored by the Government of West Bengal, after this sufferance, I don’t know how much they’ll be able to spend for entertainment. All the festivals, in this terrible context, should be downsized and not be glitzy,” he adds.
There’s also no clarity yet on International Film Festival of India (IFFI) which is to be held in Goa in November. Awaiting government directives, festival director Chaitanya Prasad, says, “It’s not a decision we can take now. These are serious times, and this is serious business. We must handle it well.”
Smaller film festivals are facing the heat more than others. Organizers of Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), set to happen in October end, have already started taking entries, but plan to wait till August to take the final call.
“It’s going to be financially difficult for film festivals in terms of sponsorship. There’s just too less money allotted for art and culture. We may have to adapt if the local authorities tell us that people can’t come together. We don’t want to endanger anyone’s life,” says DIFF founder Ritu Sarin. 'KASHISH 2020 Virtual' to be held July 22-30, 2020, will offer the entire @KashishMIQFF festival experience online and you will be able to access it from the safety of your own homes, at your own time.#MovingForwardTogether
The KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival was already rescheduled from May to September but even that seems impossible at this point, says festival director Sridhar Rangayan, adding that they can’t hold a physical festival until late next year.
“We’re considering an online festival in July and August and will collaborate with a well known website for this. We’re approaching filmmakers to see if they’ll agree to participate in a digital festival. Looking at the positive side, I think it will open doors for the festival worldwide,” Rangayan shares.
Meanwhile, the We Are One: A Global Film Festival started streaming free on YouTube from May 29 and will be on for 10 days. It’s a collaboration between over 20 top film festivals globally, including Cannes, Berlin and Venice and Mumbai Film Festival.
While, Mumbai Film Festival has announced its date — November 5-12 — they’ve introduced a segment which enables film lovers to watch niche films on their website.
Independent film curator, and South Asia Delegate to the Berlin Film Festival, Meenakshi Shedde, feels that the Indian film festivals are still better placed than many others around the world as they’re all scheduled for the year-end period.
“Organisers will get a lot of ideas about how to go about it by seeing what others around the world have done to adapt. We’ve had almost the whole year to learn from the mistakes other festivals made, benefit from the leaning, find solutions and be inventive,” she says.