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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 

 

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IFFI 51, 16-24 January 2021, 15: Terms and conditions applied

IFFI 51, 16-24 January 2021, 15: Terms and conditions applied

Media accreditation came on the 29th of December, a mere 18 days before the festival. Those who had not booked travel tickets and not made hotel reservations must have been severely inconvenienced. Luckily, I had made my bookings in anticipation, and that was a bonus.

This is the email we received on the 16th of January, the day the festival was inaugurated:

“Welcome to the 51st International Film Festival of India, Goa.

We are pleased to inform you that the online ticket sale for the 51st IFFI will start at 00.00 hours of 16th January 2021. Requesting all the delegates to adhere to the Festival Policy as detailed below:

Ticketing Policy:

Delegates can book their tickets ONLY through online mode by logging into their profiles at my.iffigoa.org (Film Guide).

No physical/paper ticket will be issued during the 51st IFFI, however, an e-ticket will be sent on the delegate’s registered email ID along with an SMS confirming the booking (E-ticket is mandatory to gain entry into the theatre).

Delegates can also view their tickets by logging into my.iffigoa.org.

In case a delegate does not receive an SMS or email, there is no need to panic and shall approach the nearest help desk.

Interestingly, the same ticket would also reflect on the delegate’s Bar-Coded/ RFID    enabled accreditation card which they would need to produce for scanning when entering a theatre to view their movie of choice.

E-tickets will be issued/ sent only to valid accreditation. Every e-ticket will be visible at my.iffigoa.org.

Sharing accreditation cards is strictly prohibited. All delegates should adhere to the rules. In case of misuse of accreditation card, the accreditation card shall be blocked / terminated.

Every card holder is entitled for a certain quota of tickets per day depending on the card type such as:

Delegate Professional: 5 tickets per day

Cine Enthusiast and Student Delegate: 4 tickets per day

Media Camera Person: 4 tickets per day

Media Correspondent: 5 tickets per day

Online ESG Guest: 2 tickets per Day

Tickets can be booked only two days prior to the screening. For example, Online sale will start at 00.00 hours of 16th January 2021 for the movie to be screened on 17th January 2021 and so on.

All Accreditation cards are Barcoded / RFID chip based and will be scanned at the auditorium entrance. It is in the delegate’s interest to scan the accreditation card or else the e-ticket will be considered as un-used and thereby liable for cancellation against the delegate’s daily ticket quota.

Delegates should cancel tickets for shows that they have booked but would not be able to attend, at least 30 minutes prior to the show start time. Failure to do so will result in reduction of the delegate’s daily ticket quota, if the ticket is un-used.

Delegates will be able to book tickets till the movie start time.

If a ticketed delegate makes a “no show”, their ticket stands cancelled and will result in reduction of the delegate’s daily ticket quota.

Certain ‘reserved seats’ may be released for ticketing, only one hour prior to the show start time and the same will be available for ticketing online.

Delegates are not allowed to book tickets for screenings in the same time slot (i.e. booking for parallel screenings not allowed)

Each E-ticket is valid for a single screening only.

Only delegates with a valid e-ticket will have access to the theatre.

Theatre Policy & Admittance

Persons with disabilities can contact the help desk at the venues for assistance.

Sitting on the aisle/ non-designated seating area inside the theatre is strictly prohibited and anyone found doing so will be barred from further screenings of the 51st IFFI.”

All these measures did cause some confusion. Most significantly, they limited your choice of film, unless you were up at midnight, and among the first to make online bookings. Since late night shows were not held this time, one was often free by 9-10 pm. Cinemas were closed during the slot 2.30-4 pm for complete sanitisation, which was a welcome step, but resulted in one film less per day. Moreover, to stay up till midnight just to book tickets was an issue. Although the number of delegates who turned-up were less than 2,400 (the registration figure, down from a high of 12,000 and an average of 8,000; quite a few do not come even after registering), the seats were limited to 920, all seven screens combined: four at INOX, two at Maquinez Palace and one at Kala Academy. Add to that the restriction that no more than 200 persons were to be allowed admittance in any one auditorium, and your chances for catching a popular film, or a competition film, were slim. I must have missed out on five films of my choice.

Conversely, I could see at least three films after booking last minute seats, possibly due to cancellations. It was difficult to gauge how many persons turned up at particular shows, because of the alternate seat vacant rule. My guess is that many films played to very small audiences. There were no late night shows, though it was never said why. In the past, we have had shows starting as late as 11 pm. Also, there were no repeat screenings. Occasionally, two or three films in the International Competition section had parallel screenings, making it impossible for you to catch more than one. Only Mehrunisa (Austrian production of an Indian film, shot entirely in India) was repeated, and it was a bad selection to bend the “no repeat screenings” routine. I could cite at least five other, better, films, that deserved a second screening.

Some generosity was on display at the Media Centre, in the shape of a generous supply of tea, coffee and biscuit packets (not loose biscuits, as was the earlier norm). Not a single dinner or reception of any kind was held during the festival. That was strange, since festivities could still be held, with at least a limited number of delegates and guests invited, respecting the rules. Q&A in the auditorium, after screenings, a norm, was dispensed with, due to Covid 19 Corona Virus pandemic, which prompted many of the above measures as well.

The Open Forum, organised by the Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI) and the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), usually from 1.30 to 2.30 pm, for six days, was dropped, and missed, at IFFI 51. Delegates from Kerala and Maharashtra topped the roll-call, while many of my fellow scribes from West Bengal were missing from the scene. Almost all the stalls were allotted to the Radisson Hotel, which served various varieties of food, snacks and desserts, at three-star hotel prices. The familiar sight of the Kingfisher beer stall, which also served draught, was a missing landmark to many a guzzler.

A couple of delegates told me that they tried to register for the ‘only online’ Master Classes, but were denied the privilege, probably because that would mean dual registration, granting them both physical and virtual access. There were times when I walked out of a film that did not engage me and felt that attending a Master Class would have been an antidote, but that was not to be. Some 1,000 persons logged on for the virtual platform, a shockingly low figure, considering the stature of the festival.

Bags were scanned at entry points, a cloak-room provided and sanitising sprays were aplenty. I carried a small bottle of the wonder liquid in my bag, but found no occasion to use it. Come November, and, praying all goes well, we will have a regular festival, IFFI 52.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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