10th Osian’s Cinefan Festival flags off in Mumbai


MUMBAI: The 10th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab cinema got underway in Mumbai today at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA).

The two day festival will see 21 films being screened.

On the opening day, filmmakers exchanged views on whether the creative individual can be institutionalized during the sessions of the IBM² (Infrastructure-Building for Minds & Markets), with Osian’s Connoisseurs of Art founder and chairman Neville Tuli setting the tone of the discussion with the observation that the conflict was essentially one between creativity and materialism.

Tuli said, "The nature of any art is one of aesthetic and historical significance, and financial considerations come later when the artist wants to show his work. In view of this, the role of the institution becomes important. Osian’s has become the basis of taking art and culture further. There is a need to direct creative energies towards transforming art into a creative value system."

"If you have knowledge, integrity and passion, wealth will follow. The key is to know oneself and clearly have a direction to create wealth in a way nothing is compromised and one involves all those around oneself. There is no corruption in putting art into an economic framework. Cinema is the greatest art medium to look at others. The intelligentsia has to play a fundamental role to take forward the growth of art in India," he emphasised.

In the afternoon discussion, Tuli said that there was no difference of opinion on the need of the state to help creative intelligentsia.

Initiating the discussion, filmmaker Ketan Mehta said, "The studio system was the first institution to help filmmakers, but it collapsed with the Second World War. Later, the Film and Television Institute of India came up to train filmmakers while the Film Finance Corporation (now known as the National Film Development Corporation – NFDC) had helped the growth of art cinema. When NFDC lost its relevance, groups of filmmakers set up cooperatives to revive art cinema. An artist perceives himself as free, but cannot work without organizational support."

Senior film critic and founder of the Cinefan Festival Aroona Vasudev said she was happy to note that many institutions had come up to support filmmakers who took cinema seriously as an art form. She also briefly gave a history of the launch of the Cinefan Film Festivals.

Francois da Silva, who is a teacher and consultant on cinema, said the state had a role in the promotion of cinema and in almost every country including France. Many filmmakers had begun as individuals but turned into institutions since that was the only way to survive.

Short filmmaker Madhushree Dutta said institutions should find creative ways to deal with artistes so that their freedom is not compromised.

Filmmaker Mani Kaul added, "Indian cinema had at one time been on the verge of collapse when the state subsidy stopped. Hence some institutional or state support is necessary for filmmakers to work creatively. The problem is that subscribing to an institution may mean an end to creativity."

Meanwhile, three exhibitions from the Osian’s Arts & Film Archive Collection opened at NCPA. The special focus for this year’s festival is the relationship between Writing and Cinema and this will be further explored through the Antiquarian ‘The Shakespeare Gallery’ Engravings from the Boydell Gallery and the Original Artworks for Vintage Hindi Novel Covers (1950-70s). The third exhibition is a tribute to veteran actor Shammi Kapoor.

Shammi Kapoor will be also be honored at the Festival.

The finale will end with the first unveiling of the scale model of Osian’s flagship cultural complex – the Osianama by some of the leading lights of the cultural world. The Osianama will open in Mumbai in mid 2009.

The Osian’s Cinefan Festival will be held for 10 days from 10 to 20 July in Delhi.