The Kazhcha Indie Film Fest came to an end on 11 December. The first edition of the festival saw a good response in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, as more than 1,000 people registered for the four-day festival that was publicized mainly through social media and by word of mouth.
Heralding a new time to come, the festival organized by the Kazhcha Film Forum was conceptualized as a measure for “corrective action” against the bureaucracy of film festivals in India. Organized by filmmakers for filmmakers, the four eventful days of the festival saw the screening of independent films that were largely ignored by mainstream festivals in the country.
With excellent programming as their hallmark, the festival’s organizers promised that even when the festival grows in future, the tightly knit programming will ensure that all films will be gems that will not disappoint audiences.
The selection found favour with the audience as well, as every screening saw a packed hall, especially on the last two days of the festival, when the momentum began to really pick up.
In addition to the screenings, there were panel discussions and late-night ‘bridge’ sessions where discussions were held on a range of topics from concerns pertinent to filmmaking to censorship and the possibilities of virtual reality (VR). Festival delegates were also invited to experience VR films as eight such films were made available for viewing by ElseVR and Memesys Culture Lab.
The closed-door ‘coffee chat’ sessions marked a unique initiative by KIFF as young independent filmmakers got the chance to interact with their peers and senior members of the industry and discuss their work.
The festival was attended by several young film students. In a bid to encourage budding filmmakers, the festival organized a mobile cinema contest where 24 hours were given for participants to shoot a film on their mobile phones, which could not exceed a duration of five minutes. The theme for the films was ‘victims’. Two entries were chosen as the winners and screened on the concluding day of the festival. Seeing the quality of the films entered, organizer and filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan remarked that he would not be surprised if some of those young filmmakers made it to the festival circuit soon!
KIFF 2017 ended on a high note as students, volunteers, delegates, and filmmakers celebrated the power of cinema and the successful launch of a festival that will, hopefully, make other festivals introspect about the quality of their programming and the kind of cinema each of them is promoting.