IFFI 2010 ready to take off

Panaji: The 41st Edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) which begins in Panaji tomorrow will showcase 300 films from 61 countries.

The film extravaganza which will kick off with a screening of the the hit British film `West is West` will be inaugurated by Union Railway minister Mamata Banerjee.

Legendary Hindi filmmaker Yash Chopra and Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn will be present as the guests for the ceremony, though Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni will give it a miss due to ill health. Bollywood actress Reema Sen will be ``thali girl`` for the inaugural while actor Aftab Shivdasani and actress Gracy Singh will compere the function.

The films will be screened in eleven auditoriums in Panaji and Margao cities and this year onwards, films from across the globe will be competing for the coveted awards worth Rs 90 lakhs. This year at IIFI, films from Canada, US and Europe too are vying for the top awards as opposed to earlier when the competition section was open only to films from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Festival director S M Khan said that the scope of competition section was widened after experts`` committee led by Kamal Haasan asked for inclusion of movies from around the world. "Last year, we had 350 films for competition section and this time, they are 450," Khan told a press conference this afternoon.

The International competition will have 18 films including three Indian films, which will be judged by a five member jury led by Polish filmmaker Jerzy Antczak. Other jury members include Emmy award winning Canadian filmmaker Sturla Gunnars, Australian actor Mick Molloy and French filmmaker Oliver Pere and South Indian film actress Revathy Menon.

The Indian Panorama section of the festival will present a bouquet of 26 feature and 21 non-feature films from the best and promising film makers from across the country. Panorama``s opening feature film will be ``Mee Sindhutai Sapkal`` based on the life of a living social reformer and the opening non-feature film ``Leaving Home`` chronicles the ups and downs of one of India`s most happening bands, Indian Ocean.