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OSIAN’s Cinefan Film Fest opens to a star-studded reception!

Ananya Bhattacharya

Delhi: The two year hiatus that OSIAN’s-Cinefan happened to go through was actually the calm before the storm. There can actually be no other explanation, thanks to the sheer spectacle that OSIAN’s is this year. With a dazzling array of 175 films from 38 participating countries of Asia and the Arab world, 125 of the films being world premieres, the 12th OSIAN’s-Cinefan Film Festival kicked off in an inimitable style. The brains behind this brilliant nexus between culture and cinema made sure that, with this handiwork of theirs, they left an indelible impact on the minds of those present.

The opening ceremony presented to the viewers a befitting tribute to the superstar who we’ve lost just a week back. A montage of some of the best scenes and snippets of some of the best songs that Superstar Rajesh Khanna has gifted to the world of cinema was offered yet again, in an unforgettable manner. The montage ended with that famous quote from ‘Anand’, Anand mara nahi, Anand marte nahi. And by the time the lights were back, a teardrop or two could be spotted on most people’s faces.

OSIAN’s this year is dedicated to Freedom of Creative Thought and Expression, and has environmental awareness as its scaffolding. The festival was inaugurated to a packed Siri Fort One auditorium with the lighting of the lamp by Neville Tuli, Chairman – OSIAN’s, and Indu Shrikent, Festival Director.

Indu Shrikent’s speech consisted of a brief outline of what the festival would entail this year. An eclectic array of stimulating films from around the East would be shown to the audience. Shrikent paid her tributes to renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and famous Indian filmmaker Mani Kaul.

Neville Tuli addressed the audience with a speech that radiated both sorrow at not being able to conduct the festival for the last two years, and happiness at the resurrection of OSIAN’s. In his address, Tuli sketched the trajectory of OSIAN’s through the last two years, in a metaphorically humorous manner.

The Aruna Vasudev Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Samir Farid, one of the most prolific and significant film critics of the Arab world. Farid’s career is spread out over four decades and is studded with innumerable achievements. Apart from being one of the renowned faces in the criticism of Arab and Egyptian Cinema, Farid is the author of about 60 books. Accepting the award as a “great honour from a great country”, Farid emphasised upon his love for the silver screen, the expression of which was his work in the field of film criticism.

OSIAN's this year sees the incorporation of a new segment of films – on environmental awareness. In this connection, noted activist and environmentalist who is now synonymous with the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’, Medha Patkar, voiced her concerns regarding the environment. In addition to praising several filmmakers for their unparalleled contribution to the cause that she is so vehemently active about, Patkar urged more filmmakers to venture into the field. More participation from the world of cinema, she highlighted, would go a long way in making a lot of people aware of the lurking dangers and potential threats to the environment.

The jury for the Asian and Arab competition consists of Marco Mueller, Artistic Director of the Rome Film Festival; eminent filmmaker Muzaffar Ali; Iranian filmmaker Ali Mostafa; Egyptian director Magdi Ahmed Ali; and American filmmaker James V Hart. The section includes twelve films from Asian and Arab cinema.

The Indian jury is 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. There are nine films in the competition.

The festival sparked off with Japanese animation film ‘Asura’, and heralded an unparalleled experience of cinematic brilliance – the experience called OSIAN’s.