It’s that time of the year again.
Three Indian film festivals in the NY/NJ area overlap and bump into each other over the space of the next two and a half weeks.
One the one hand, it’s a glorious excess of riches, with the likes of Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam gracing us with their presence and their most recent films, along with a slew of first-timers and up-and-comers anxiously exhibiting their newborns for all to judge.
On the other hand, would it kill the organizers to space things out a little bit?
In short, here are the dates and locations:
SAIFF (South Asian International Film Festival): Oct 27 – Nov 2, NYC
NJISACF (NJ Independent South Asian CineFest): Oct 29-30, Edison
MIAAC (Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council): Nov 10 -14, NYC
It would seem to make more sense to not have all three piled up on top of each other. For example, SAIFF started off with a bang last night, hosting Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots for its US debut. NJISACF is on this weekend, and it has moved from its former home on the Rutgers campus to the Reliance BIG Cinema multiplex on the Ground Zero of all things desi in New Jersey: Oak Tree Road.
It’s a great festival. Two years ago, the National Award winner and big fave of mine, Prakash Raj, was there to present Priyadarshan’s Kanchivaram (for which the director too won a National Award) and last year the big name in attendance was Adoor Gopalakrishnan. This year too, the line-up looks fascinating (e.g. Archie Panjabi in Yasmin) and there is a special focus on women. But I fear it will be overshadowed to a large extent by SAIFF.
Just imagine if these two film fests were on at different times. With some better publicity for NJISACF (and specific helpful info for Manhattanites on how to get to Edison), festival-goers could be encouraged to arrive there early enough to enjoy the multitude of shops and eateries up and down Oak Tree Road before adjourning to the cinema. Local merchants could get involved, maybe offer discounts to festival attendees.
Then, with only a few days’ gap after SAIFF ends, MIAAC commences. And by the way, how great is it that this city can support not one, but three, festivals (including Engendered iView) devoted to South Asian film and for so many years? (MIAAC is 10 years old, SAIFF, seven.) We truly are fortunate.
Now, just imagine if one of these festivals took place a few months earlier, say, during the sweltering days of July, or even better, August, in a wonderful cinematic lead-up to the annual Independence Day hoopla? So many Indian film people travel to the US for promotional events at that time anyway. If there were a space of months rather than days between these two film fests, we movie lovers would get a bit of a breather, with time to absorb and talk up all the great movies we’ve seen, and there wouldn’t be such a cannibalization of films and audiences, plus the actors and directors who attend.
UPDATE 10/Nov/2010: Am happy to see that the WSJ is making similar observations about the fall film traffic jam.
One bit of good news is that MIAAC is moving to May 9 – 14 next year.
The oldest of the South Asian film festivals will take up residence for its duration at Lincoln Center, being the first to make use of the new facilities after all that ongoing construction.