tv & movies

CIFF 2021: What’s in store for Chennai’s film buffs

Undeterred by a challenging year, the 18th Chennai International Film Festival kickstarts on February 18 and will feature 90 films from 53 countries

Chennai’s love for cricket and cinema is eternal.

While last weekend satiated the hunger of those interested in the sport, the coming week promises to be a treat for people interested in big-screen proceedings.

The curtains go up for the 18th Chennai International Film Festival today.

Cinephiles might have missed out on the action in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they can hope to get a taste of films from across the world in this edition. With over 90 films playing from 53 countries, there is a buffet of quality content to choose from.

But all this takes a lot of effort: festival director Emanadar Thangaraj and the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF) team know that. “I was in Delhi in March 2020 to collect films for our monthly programmes. The first day I was let in to the Embassies, but the next day, I wasn’t, citing COVID-19 protocol,” recalls 80-year-old Thangaraj, a familiar face among the city’s film buffs.

A couple of months into the lockdown meant the ICAF team were home, but once the situation eased, they got back to doing what they love the most: watching films and ensuring that more people caught them — this time, by moving to the digital space. “We took that route for a few months post lockdown. In November, we held a physical screening at Alliance Francaise,” he says.

But going online was not the only thing that they planned during that rough period. “We were getting a lot of screeners through agents who are known to us,” he says, “Our members watched those and selected content for the festival. We were expecting to hold it even with a 50% turnout, but with the permission for 100% occupancy, we hope to have a great turnout.”

Since 2003, the festival has been striving to bring the best of international and Indian films to the public. 2021 will be no different; this year’s line-up includes Iranian film The Slaughterhouse, German film Undine, and the inaugural film, The Girl With A Bracelet. “These are films that have been critically acclaimed at a global level, and bringing them for people to watch here in our city gives me joy,” he adds.

There will also be masterclass sessions conducted by prominent film personalities, something that students of cinema can benefit from. “The audience we get is very discerning. Whenever we put out schedules, they go through the synopsis and make note of the must-watch films, based on their tastes. The encouragement we get from cinema buffs here is what gives us the impetus to take this further.”

Organised by Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation in association with PVR, the CIFF is on till February 25 at PVR Multiplex (formerly Sathyam Cinemas) and Anna Cinemas. To register, visit www.chennaifilmfest.com

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