The 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI), that marked its “first-ever hybrid” version, closed on Sunday.
Danish film Into the Darkness (De forbandede år), directed by Anders Refn, won the Golden Peacock Award and a cash prize of Rs 40 lakh shared equally between Refn and the film’s producer Lene Børglum. The film, based on World War II, portrays the story of a Danish electronics factory owner who is forced to manufacture goods for the occupying Nazi forces.
While Bangladesh was the country in focus this year, the festival included nine South Indian films, 23 feature films, and 20 non-feature films. Six iconic Marathi films were screened under the Indian Panorama section and 15 films competed for the Golden Peacock Award at IFFI’s International Competition section.
International jury members, including Pablo Cesar (Argentina), Prasanna Vithanage (Sri Lanka), Abu Bakr Shawky (Austria), Priyadarshan (India) and Rubaiyat Hossain (Bangladesh), honoured the winners this year in the closing ceremony.
The Silver Peacock for the Best Director, that carries a cash award of Rs 15 lakh, was awarded to Taiwanese director Chen-Nien Ko for her Mandarin drama The Silent Forest.
The Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Male) was awarded to 17-year-old Tzu-Chuan Liu, while Polish actor Zofia Stafiej won the Best Actor (Female) for her role in Piotr Domalewski’s I Never Cry / Jak najdalej stad.
The IFFI 51 Special Mention Award was presented to Kripal Kalita for his Assamese film Bridge.
The Award for Best Debut Director was awarded to Brazilian Director Cássio Pereira dos Santos, for his Portuguese film Valentina, an eponymous film which tells the story of a 17-year-old transgender Brazilian girl, whose sole aim is to lead a normal life with her mother.
The International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication UNESCO Gandhi Award, that is given to a film that best reflects Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence, was awarded to Ameen Nayfeh’s Arabic film 200 Meters.
Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s popular classics were screened in the retrospective section, while four films by Dadasaheb Phalke were also screened on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of the father of Indian Cinema.
IFFI also paid homage to 18 film personalities who died in 2020, including Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, SP Balasubrahmanyam, Soumitra Chatterjee, Sushant Singh Rajput and Basu Chatterjee.
The mid-fest film was Sandeep Kumar’s Mehrunisa, a film that questions the entrenched patriarchy in the film industry.
Veteran actor, director and producer Biswajit Chatterjee bagged the Indian Personality of the Year Award. Chatterjee, who is known for his works in both Bengali and Hindi cinema, spoke about how he was “deeply connected” to Bangladesh.
“When Bangladesh was being attacked, genius director Ritwik Gatak was with me in Mumbai and we used to get inspired by the speeches of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Then as per Ritwik Da’s suggestion, we made the documentary There Flows Padma, The Mother River. I can never forget the love I got from Bangladesh. Bangladesh and India are one, we are brethren; we are not separate,” he said in a press release.
The guests of honours included veteran actor Zeenat Aman, actor and politician Ravi Kishan, Governor of Goa Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Sawant, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Amit Khare, and Union Minister Babul Supriyo.
In a video message, veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan thanked the Central government for keeping cinema alive and said that the festival was a great example of transforming challenges into opportunities.
The festival, that opened with the premiere of Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, closed with the historical drama Wife of a Spy by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
Founded in 1952, IFFI is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. Initially held in different parts of the country, the film festival has finally found its permanent home in Goa since its 35th edition in 2004. The festival conducted jointly by the Directorate of Film Festivals under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Goa government.