From the Festival Director’s desk:-
What is a Nation? Cinema and Narration
Ours is a land of festivals, of mesmerizing art forms, of lilting folk music, of vibrant theatres, of great performance traditions, of ancient ritual and martial arts. The dazzling colours of Kathakali and Koodiyattom, the sonorous drumbeats of Pooram and Theyyam and the spirited vigour of Padayani or Kummattikali, have all been part and parcel of the warp and woof of our native life. It is into this manifold cultural milieu that cinema made its entry in the early decades of the twentieth century and captivated the Malayali with its magnetic charm. Since then the Malayali’s tryst with cinema has in fact shaped the cultural landscape of Kerala in many ways. In fact cinema for the Malayali in the twentieth century became that single art form which recast all other arts and remoulded the Malayali’s notions regarding his/her own self, as no other art form in any other era or epoch could possibly have done.
It is in this context that film festivals here become so relevant as an exercise that seeks to remind one of the role that films and film festivals have played in shaping the creative and critical sensibilities of a land and its people. The International Film Festival of Thrissur (IFFT) brings you this year a bouquet of films that resonate with the most trenchant issues of our times. In a world of transnational movements and multinational capital, how cinemas engage with nations and nationalisms is an interesting thesis. Even as we arrive at the uneasy realization that globalization and nationalism form two sides of the same coin, cinephiles have to content with moot questions on how a nation imagines its cinema and how cinema imagines its nation. Many of the films we bring you this year critique dominant imaginations and practices that sustain nation states. They look at the marginalized lives and compromised liberties of ordinary individuals caught up in larger political battles.
We live in difficult times, and many of these films capture the moral dilemmas of our age, the agony of poverty, the fear of repression, the quiet struggle to regain the dignity of life and labour. Most of these are films that are deeply implicated in the social and moral dilemms of our age, for they reveal in a deeply philosophical and political manner the ideological nature of cinema as art and its immense potential to narrate cultures, myths and symbols of a nation or region. By bringing the average cinephiles, film scholars and aspiring students of cinema as also representatives of the state bureaucracy, people from the film industry, and the fourth estate, we hope that film festivals such as the IFFT become democratic spaces where the egalitarian and syncretic base of cinema is celebrated in its most literal sense.