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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for 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. 



IFFI 52, 041: Jury members celebrated the joy of cinema

IFFI 52, 041: Jury members celebrated the joy of cinema

The International Competition Jury for 52nd International Film Festival of India led by Jury Chairperson, Iranian film maker Rakhshān Banietemad and other members including film producer and film makers Ciro Guerra, Vimukthi Jayasundara and Nila Madhab Panda, interacted with the media at IFFI 52.

Speaking on her experience of judging the films, the Jury Chairperson and Iranian film-maker, Rakhshān Banietemad said that she enjoyed judging varieties of films from different countries and it was an amazing experience. “I never find any difference based on gender as far as film making, viewing and judging is concerned. I focus more on the expertise and skill rather than gender and this is what all the women film makers should do,” she said, in response to query on importance of the gender factor and perspective in film making and judging.

“We celebrated the art and power of cinema, irrespective of nationality and ideology. Whether the film has the power to move or touch the audience or not, whether it is surprising and opening new a dimension or concept, whether it expresses the story by effectively using the tools of the medium and the artistic merits, irrespective of subjects are some of the main criteria that we looked at while judging the films for the competition, said Colombian film director Ciro Guerra, one of the Jury Members for the International Competition.

Commenting on Indian Cinema, Ciro said that the vitality, diversity and imagination of Indian Cinema is really surprising. “It’s indeed a prestigious festival and I am honoured to be a part of the Jury”, he said.

“We discussed about the film among the jury members before coming into a conclusion. When my film, Embrace of the Serpent, won the Golden Peacock award in 2015, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony,” he reminisced

Talking about neutrality of the jury, Banietemad said that when you are a jury member, you have to put your nationality and ideology aside, and judge the film based on artistic merit.

Answering a query about the impact of the pandemic on films, as noticed by the jury, noted SriLankan Director, Vimukthi Jayasundara said that the impact of the pandemic must have been there on the back of the camera, there must be challenges, but it was never reflected in the output. The films chosen for IFFI represented diversity and excellence.

“There are a lot of stories that India needs to tell the world. I have come across new and interesting stories and subjects this time, though I have watched many Indian films in the past”, said Jayasundara.

“IFFI is a platform for freedom of expression. The kind of films they have chosen shows inclusiveness and variety,” said National Award winning film-maker and jury member Nila Madhab Panda.

He further said that the artistic imagination of contemporary India is visible in most of our films today. “It’s a pleasure that our regional cinema is growing big and tall. Many powerful films are coming out from the regions”, he added.

Speaking on the impact of pandemic on the cinema, Panda said that the jury members didn’t find any kind artistic compromise in any of the films. “A director, sometimes, lives a story for years, and the making also takes a long time, so it might not belong to only during the pandemic period”, he added.

Highlighting their experience of judging the films, the members, in unison, said that they celebrated the joy of cinema during the last days. “It was an incredible and memorable experience to watch such diverse and wonderful films at this prestigious festival”, they added.

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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 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


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