Thiruvananthapuram: Legendary Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi believes the quality of any film festival is determined by the quality of its audience. In that regard, he said, Kerala has been fortunate.
“The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) benefits from being set in one of the two Indian states that have a distinguished film audience (West Bengal being the other),” said Zanussi, adding, “It is now a well-established, famous festival.”
The multiple award-winning director has been a regular feature in the IFFK’s World Cinema categories. Long-term festival goers will recall watching his Our God’s Brother (1997) in the 1998 edition of the IFFK. As fondly remembered, perhaps, is his powerful, erudite exposition of ‘Religious fanaticism and Cinema’ in his Aravindan Memorial Lecture from 2003.
“I’ve taken part in a few IFFKs over the years in absentia. I was not present, but my films have been,” he said. “Last year, it was a great joy to me to see that my Foreign Body was screened here.”
“I’m not indifferent to the vanity fare of other festivals. It’s nice, but I don’t care very much. What I care is if I have a chance to meet the real audience,” Zanussi said. “There is usually a wall between you and the public.”
“The IFFK is good. Here, young people approach me and prove in the conversations I have with them that they have seen my films. That they care. That it’s not just for a picture or an autograph. They ask me if I could spare a DVD. This I respect.”
“They are curious and that makes me enthusiastic. That makes this festival very dear to me. I seriously insist that the most important factor is the level of the audience. If the audience is interested and cultivated, I can expect that more serious, better films will be watched, will be received.”
With great care taken in the selection of cinema that is as wide in scope geographically as it is thematically, the IFFK holds its own against other festivals.
“That’s a good thing (having festival directors who have been pretty bold) and the IFFK should preserve that,” said Zanussi, who spoke approvingly of IFFK 2015 artistic director Shaji N. Karun.
IFFK 2015, Kerala’s premier film festival, will run from December 4 -11.