Panaji, Nov 22: The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2008 began today with the screening of period Chinese film `The Warlords`, set in the year 1850, during the Taiping Rebellion in the Qing Dynasty.
The opening ceremony of the 39th edition of the festival was simple yet elegant and keeping with international standards.
Noted film actress Rekha was the Chief Guest at the inaugural ceremony.
Goa Governor Dr S S Sidhu, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Anand Sharma were present on the occasion besides several noted film personalities.
Goan origin Telugu actress Illina D Cruz was a special guest at the event, assisting dignitaries in lightning the ceremonial lamp while Bollywood actress Amrita Rao was the host.
IFFI is being held in Goa for the 5th year in a row since it was declared the permanent venue.
With this edition of IFFI, the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG), one of the hosts of the event, steps into the area of festival programming with some prominent sections like `Indian Premieres`, `Country Focus` (Iran), `Foreign Retrospectives` (John Landis) and the `Short Film Centre`.
Over 100 films from more than 40 countries will be screened at the festival in several sections.
The Indian programming at IFFI 2008 would be under seven different segments with screening of 83 films.
This includes `Indian Panorama` with 26 features and 21 non-feature films. There will also be retrospectives of legendary film personalities.
The `Cinema of the World` section comprises 65 films. There will be a special section to commemorate the 75 years of Kannada cinema. The competition section will have 15 films from all over the world.
These include `My Mother`s Tears` (Argentia/Germany), `Rupant` (Transformation) from Bangladesh, `The Shaft` (China), `Kanachi Varam` and `Mahasatta` (India), `The Song of Sparrows` (Iran), `The Red Spot` (Japan/Germany), `Tulpan` (Kazakhstan), `Pensil` (Malaysia), `Ploning` (Philippines), `Akasa Kusum` (Sri Lanka) and `The Coffin` (Thailand).
`Film India Worldwide` is another attraction in the `Cinema of the World Section`, which will showcase films produced by Non Resident Indians (NRI) in collaboration with foreign filmmakers.
The entries in the segment are `Tandoori Love` (Switzerland), `Death without Consent` (USA), `Barah Aana and Chaurasta -Cross Roads of Love` (India).
The competition jury is headed by noted director from Hong Kong Peter Chan. Other members of the jury include Marco Mueller (Venice), Niki Karimi (Iran), Lav Diaz (Philippines) and Bollywood actress Tabu.
`Taj Mahal: A Celluloid Journey` will screen films based on `Taj Mahal- Shiraj` (Silent Film) 1928, `Shah Jahan- 1964`, `Taj Mahal- 1963`, and `Taj Mahal- 2005` to showcase the monument, a major tourist attraction, for visiting delegates.
Seven films of all time veterans Dilip Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, B Saroja Devi and Tapan Sinha are being presented in `Lifetime Classics.`
Homage will be paid to G P Sippy, B R Chopra, F C Mehra, Jayshree Gadkar, Raghuvaran, Mahendra Kapoor, Jeeva, Sridhar, Vijay Tendulkar and Nabendu Ghosh who passed away over the past one year with the screening of their films.
National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) will organize a `Film Bazaar` on the sidelines of IFFI 2008 on November 26 to 29.
The Bazaar aims at creating opportunities for networking and business for producers, filmmakers and distributors from across the world.
An IFFI Channel is also being set up by the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) to telecast coverage of all events pertaining to the film festival.
The ESG has also introduced the `Vasudha Awards` for films on environmental issues in the short film category this year.
The `Indian Premiers` section handled by the ESG includes seven new feature films.
`Saawariya.com`, a Konkani film will be screened in this section along with others films like `Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye!`, `Thanks Maa` (both Hindi), `Tandala- Ek Mukhavata` (Marathi), `One Day in Cochin` (Malayalam/ French/ English).
The prestigious film event will felicitate Bengali director Mrinal Sen, evergreen actor Dev Anand, legendary south Indian director K Balchander and noted film editor from Goa Waman Bhonsle.