Curtains down on IFFI; Dvortsevoy wins Golden & Silver Peacock

Mumbai: The curtains came down on the 39th International Film Festival of India with the screening of Iranian film The Song of the Sparrows, directed by Majid Majidi. Kamal Hassan was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony. He said that despite setbacks and dark moments, normal life must go on. He also congratulated the organizer for putting together such a rich collection of movies.

During the ceremony, Director Sergei Dvortsevoy bagged the best film award with the Golden Peacock and a cash award of Rs 40 lakhs for the Kazakhstan film Tulpan. He also received the Most Promising Director Award for the film. The award comprises the Silver Peacock and a cash award of Rs 15 lakhs.

Tulpan is a cinematic triumph that pulls us in a world where man can live in peace with nature, a press release said. Dvortsevoy thanked the audience for sharing his very Kazakh, but universal story. He said films cannot change the world but they can change people, and people can change the world.

The Special Jury Award went to Sri Lankan actress Malini Fonseka whose film Akasa Kusum featured in the Competition Section. The winner was presented a Silver Peacock, a cash prize of Rs. 15 lakh and a certificate. Fonseka said that her film was an India-Sri Lanka co production and the time has come for a closer relationship between the two countries. She also hoped for peace and happiness everywhere in these troubled times.

The five-member competition jury was headed by the noted director from Hong Kong Peter Chan. Other members of the jury included Marco Mueller (Venice), Niki Karimi (Iran), Lav Diaz (Philippines) and Tabassum Hashmi (Tabu-India).

Two Indian entries — S. Priyadarshan’s Tamil film Kanchivaram and Ramesh Laxman More’s Marathi film Mahasatta – were in the Competition Section among 13 other films chosen from Bangladesh, Russia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Iran, the Philippines, Argentina, China and Japan.

Chief Minister of Goa Digambar Kamat said that IFFI 2008 was a landmark event and that the Government of Goa was keen on developing the state as a hub of the entertainment industry. He mentioned that additional multiplexes and other facilities are being created in Mudgaon.

Jury chairperson Peter Chan said that the jury process took them to various cultures from  all the corners of globe. The decision was not easy but it was unanimous, said the eminent director.

Festival director S M Khan thanked all the individuals and organizations associated with the festival for putting together a grand extravaganza. Khan said that the festival condemns terrorism in all forms. Cinema has a great potential to stir the consciousness of human kind, thus it has a great role to play, he/she said.

Joint secretary (Films), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting V.B. Pyarelal said, "The festival gave us an opportunity to experience the visual interpretation of the various facets of life. The occupancy remained very high throughout the festival as compared to last year."

The closing ceremony started with a minute of silence in memory of victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

During the 11-day extravaganza, a total of 185 movies were shown from 44 countries. Close to 83 Indian movies, including 47 in the Indian Panorama, were screened.