The budget is down by Rs 15 lakh and the key enthusiast hasn't had the time to view most of the films chosen for the festival. But the 15th Kolkata Film Festival week (November 10-17) will be "as gratifying as ever", feels chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, for, "the hungry man also sings".
So, never mind the "ashanti" (troubled times), the film festival is a part of Kolkata, and an integral constituent of the chief minister's life. Trying to sound as eager as ever, Bhattacharjee read out the list of movies at this year's festival. Then, he was asked to express how it felt organising a film festival amid the troubled times. Pat came the reply: "When one is going through such times, he looks for solution which is (always) reflected in films."
Quoting Tagore, the chief minister insisted that "ashanti" would never stall the process of creativity. Actor Soumitra Chatterjee took over: "No matter how much the trouble is, films will be made and shown and continue to be an essential part of the society."
The chief minister admitted that the cost had been curtailed this time. From last year's Rs 1.40 crore, it has come down to Rs 1.25 crore. "I thought, let's bring the cost down instead of allowing it to escalate," he said before adding in jest: "The feasts have been curtailed. But Soumitra-da and I will have our share of cha (tea)."
The film festival, however, would not be low-key, insisted Bhattacharjee even as he admitted that "this time I have only managed to see 20 out of the 228 films in the bouquet." The chief minister was particularly excited about a special section on "Marquez on cellular" where his favourite Gabriel Garcia Marquez's featured novels will be screened.
The countries covered by this year's festival is 56 against last year's 62. Mani Ratnam will be the chief guest and the inaugural film will be The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by Mark Herman. Centenary tributes will be paid to to Elia Kazan and Bimal Roy. Among Roy's films to be featured will be Udayer Pathey, Do Bigha Zameen, Parineeta, Yuhudi and Bandini.
Another section, Homage', will feature films by Fedrico Fellini. Mexico will be the focus of the film festival. The films will be shown at Nandan I, II and III, Sisir Mancha, New Empire, Purbasree (Salt Lake), Rabindra Sadan and SRFTI. The prices of tickets are Rs 40 and Rs 70.