Festival date: 17th May to 27th May 2018
Venue: India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
The 13th edition of Habitat Film Festival from May 17 – 27 at the India Habitat Centre hosts a handpicked selection of the Best of Indian Cinema 2017-2018, a pan Indian sweep of national award-winning and critically acclaimed cinema.
The festival opened with the much awaited Bengali drama Drishtikone by ace director Kaushik Ganguly on 17th May at 7:30pm at the Stein Auditorium. The line-up features Assamese film Village Rockstars by Rima Das (Won Best Film at National Film Awards 2018), hard-hitting Marathi film Ajji and Nude, high voltage Malayalam thrillers S Durga and Take off, Hindi features Omerta, Hungry and October, investigative Tamil thrillers Vikram Veda and Aran, Kaatru Veliyidai among others. Flagging the changing face of contemporary Indian Cinema, one watches out for Ralang Road (Nepali), Juze (Konkani), Mayurakshi (Bengali), Hello Arsi (Odiya), Idak- the Goat (Marathi), Reservation (Kannada), Carbon (Malayalam) from the dynamic line up put together. The closing film at the festival is the Malayalam film Ee. Ma. Yau by Lijo Jose Pellissery.
Aparna Sen (Sonata), Devashish Makhija (Ajji), Miransha Naik (Juze), Jiju Antony (Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani), Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (S Durga), and Daria Gai (Teen Aur Aadha) are among the filmmakers who are attending the festival.
The salient features of the Festival include Retrospective Segment on visionary Malayalam director KG George, Two Tribute segments, one on the pioneering contributions of late actor and producer Shashi Kapoor (1938-2017) with select films that bear testimony to his loaded imprints in various aspects of cinema and the other that discusses and brings into focus the acting finesse&pan Indian legacy of late actress Sridevi (1963-2018) with a screening of one of her early films. Other collateral sessions in the form of master classes by leading directors, actors and screenwriters such as Vishal Bharadwaj, Tisca Chopra, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, panel discussions involving film scholars, film journalists & critics, daily podcasts, and newsletters, will infuse the festival with an exciting dose of contemporaneity. Post-screening Q & A sessions with directors are sure to bring out finer nuances.
A notable highlight is Gulzar’s session on 20th May in which he will be in conversation with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.
The festival will be inaugurated by film scholar par excellence, Aruna Vasudev, Founder/President of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema who is revered for her pioneering contributions in carving out an undeniable space for Asian Cinema in the global film circuit, seeding multiple independent film festivals, institutions, and scholarly endeavours. Bina Paul, Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala, will be in conversation with Aruna Vasudev on the opening day (17th May at 6:30 pm at the Stein Auditorium).
Fast paced preparations are underway at IHC as organisers anticipate a resurgent interest in the regional language content. They point to many regional language industries at the cusp of radical shifts and transformation creating a new pan Indian audience eager to immerse and engage. A fact pointed out by the 2018 Jury head of National Film Awards, Shekhar Kapur, whose surprise and admiration for this new wave in regional cinema came to light at the recent national awards announcement day. He even mentioned in a lighter vein how regional cinema has so clearly affirmed its dominance over the Bollywood idiom with layered storytelling and deeply moving performances, and announced his return to making films in India. This year, some of the most coveted national awards were unequivocally bagged by films in Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese etc.
Note on the Habitat Film Festival
A firm milestone now with a run of twelve years behind it, the Habitat Film Festival has become the Capital’s coveted showcase for the Best of Pan Indian Cinema. The package of films in the Festival is a one of its kind opportunity, to soak in the wealth of the creative outpourings of the country’s leading talent.
The focus of the Festival remains unchanged, in its single minded focus to turn the spotlight on cinema from India that is beyond the brouhaha and blaze of mainstream Bollywood. Films, that are directorial debuts, new works of brilliance from old masters, classic archival restorations, controversial, irreverent, path breaking, retelling a tale or a fantastical work of utopian yearning. They rub shoulders at the Festival for their distinction in one or all the varied skill and craft that goes into creating the magic that is cinema.