GIFF Draws Paltry Audience Despite Getting World Class Cinemas
Publicity features ministers more, less art; promotion did not reach audiences who appreciate world class cinema
A film festival which promises to be different, with world class movies drawing audience from every spectrum of society, draws a blank.
Reality: The third edition of Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF) which promises to take film thinking and watching to a new level sadly misses the obvious part - the audience. College-going students were the bulk of audience in the gala event which was promoted with so much fanfare. Notably, there was no system of buying tickets for a movie buff and even the website of GIFF doesn’t provide the pertinent details of where one can get passes.
To top it even the politicians this year featured mostly with cut outs of senior state leaders which were highlighted along the roads leading to the venue at Sankaradeva Kalashtera.
The festival started on a promising note with a platter of around 100 world class films from 65 countries. But who is the target audience of the festival? Many cinema lovers are unaware about what kind of films is being screened and they are even confused about the venue.
“I want to watch world class cinema but I am not aware about where to go to watch the films during the festival,” said a professor of a renowned college in the city who is not sure if the films will be screened at Jyoti Chitrabon or at the Kalakshetra.
The inauguration ceremony of the festival was attended by the famous Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi and very less cinema lovers knew about this fact. Rather, whatever promotion was done by the organisers in and outside Guwahati city, mostly promoted the politicians and the hoardings mostly featured Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and culture minister Naba Kumar Doley.
According to the organisers only 30% of the hoardings featured ministers. The budget of the entire festival was approximately Rs 2 crores to Rs 2.5 crores and the organisers did not inform about the amount spent on publicity as according to them the publicity is still ongoing.
Leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia talking to G Plus said, “Any festival organised during the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled government has only publicised the politicians and wasted public money.” He also expressed that many schemes have not yet been implemented by the government, various infrastructure of the state are yet to be developed but the government is busy spending money on their pictures on hoardings in the name of festivals.
On the first and second day of the festival there were mostly school kids seen in the festival who were brought from various schools. The students were seen moving around at the venue and were brought by their respective school teachers. Many were not interested in the films being screened as they are still too young to understand the message of the cinema and appreciate the art.
A city-based BJP leader talking to G Plus under condition of anonymity said, “The organisers promote the politicians to woo them, but it should be the duty of the politicians to stop it as it is wastage of public money.” The leader also said that such festivals should be properly designed and targeted at the people who are interested rather than forcing the school children to visit the festival to increase the number of footfall. He expressed that the promotion should be well planned rather than just promoting the politicians to keep getting the funds.
According to media reports, the state government has allotted Rs 1.94 crores for the festival with a cost of Rs 40,000 spent for every film to be screened at the festival.
Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF) was organized for the first time by Jyoti Chitrabon in association with DBH Regional Government Film and Television Institute with support of the Government of Assam which was held from 28th October to 2nd November 2017.
A total number of 72 films from more than 30 countries were screened at the festival.
The second edition of the festival was held from 25th October to 31st October 2018, where ASEAN countries were the Region of Focus. Over 100 films from more than 40 countries were screened during the festival.