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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 14:14 GMT
Film festival with a difference

By Sanjaya Jena
In Puri, Orissa

Orissa beach film festival;
Most films are screened inside a huge makeshift tent (Photos: Sanjib Mukherjee)
It's a film festival with a difference.

There are no entry forms, selection procedures, competitions, juries, awards, bureaucracies. There are simply a lot of films to be shown.

Bring Your Own Film Festival is an innovative event held on the sandy beaches of Puri in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. It has been drawing droves of filmmakers from home and abroad.

Anybody who has shot a film of any type, duration or format can land up at festival every February to get their work screened before an enthusiastic crowd comprising filmmakers, film lovers, artists, painters and even lay viewers.

The festival is just three years old but it seems to have created a space for itself.

Organised by a group of maverick filmmakers, the festival could go a long way in providing a platform for young and serious filmmakers, says organiser and national award winning film maker Kapilas Bhuyan.

The festival's open exhibition policy allows any film in any format to be screened in the festival.

This throws up an obvious question - How do the organisers ensure quality?

Festival enthusiasts have their rationale.

Chaotic

"'India makes about 900 films a year and not even two make it to [festivals like] Cannes. Does it mean that the rest of the films are bad? For a festival in which anybody can participate, a couple of poorly-made films are a risk one has to take," says one.

Orissa beach film festival
A film enthusiast catches the day's screening posters
The first edition of the festival in 2004 screened a collection of films rejected by that year's Mumbai International Film Festival 2004.

"The Puri festival has unearthed talents that would otherwise have remained undiscovered because of the stringent screening criterion at state-sponsored festivals" say film maker Himanshu Khatua.

Sure, the festival can get very chaotic - even the delegates admit to it.

Screening schedules go haywire, filmmakers undercut each other's screenings. But in the end, everybody seems to be happy to have got a chance to screen their films.

The films are screened in a huge makeshift tent. Open air screenings are also held.

The third edition of the festival saw the screening of as many as 126 films of different durations and types with 320 delegates from India and abroad participating in the event.

Orissa beach film festival
Open air screenings are held on improvised screens
As the festival concluded they returned promising to come next year with their new works.

The 94-minute film Countdown by Shyamal Gupta in DVD format was the longest in the festival. Rohit Ranjan's In a Trance - lasting just two minutes - was the shortest.

Attracting talent

"While attracting a number of established filmmakers, the festival, also provides the right environment for the young directors and students to show their work to one another and exchange their ideas and experiences," said Mr Khatua.

Last year national award-winning film-maker Supriyo Sen showed his documentary on partition, Way Back Home, at the festival. The film had earned him a BBC Award at the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester in 2003 and the Golden Conch for the best long documentary at Mumbai International Film Festival last year.

Orissa film festival
Young filmmakers meet their audiences after screenings
Leading Indian film makers like Rakesh Sharma, Sunny Joseph and Anand Patwardhan have screened their work here.

The standouts this year were German filmmaker Bernd Luetzeler's love tale Rapid Eye Love and Hyderabad based film maker Saraswati with her film Between Devil and the Deep Sea depicting the lives of fishermen in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Delhi-based Magic Lantern Foundation, a distribution centre of independent films, opened a counter at the festival to acquire distribution rights of films screened there.

Shyamal Sengupta of the distribution network said he was happy to get quite a number of young film makers looking for distributors.


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