18th International Film Festival of Kerala
India, December 6 - December 13 2013
“The press seems to be against us this year” remarked Bina Paul, artistic director of the 18th Festival of Kerala. It would, however, be easy to counter that this most cine-literate of Indian Film Festivals, held in Thiruvanathapuram (formerly the easier to pronounce Trivandrum) offers work of a higher standard than that of those who criticize it. It also has the benefit of the most enthusiastic audiences in India.
Admittedly there were glitches this year. Mexican director Arturo Ripstein, head of the jury, ordered special screenings of the competition films rather than face the onrushing crowds who not only occupied even the jury seats, refusing to move, but parked themselves in every available isle space too. Often to get in at all, even as a juror, was a fraught business.
But then Trivandrum film-goers are a keen and starved lot, and the Festival caters for them in good measure. Whether they like what they see is another matter. But if the competition, open to films from Asia, Africa and Latin- American, lacked much strength in depth, the world section was full of good things. Added to that there were retrospectives of the work of Bellochio, Clare Denis, Carlos Saura, Goran Paskaljevic and Jean Renoir among others and there was a full quota of new Indian films, concentrating on those from the area in question. And Indian cinemas as catered for with a special emphasis on the Malayalam variety.
Those complaining about the general quality of the films would better reflect on the state of world cinema, even in a good year, than on the perceptive nature of the programmers. This is a Festival cherished throughout the South as a brave and distinctive event fashioned for its audiences rather than its own greater glory. (Derek Malcolm)
International Film Festival of Kerala: www.iffk.in