The inaugural ceremony was also virtually attended by Bollywood superstar and West Bengal’s brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan from Mumbai.
The 26th edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival ( KIFF) got off to a start on Friday under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival will pay tributes to cinema greats who passed away in 2020. Films of actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Tapas Pal, Santu Mukherjee, danseuse Amala Shankar and directors Fernando Solanas, Kim Ki-Duk and Basu Chatterjee — all of whom passed away last year — will be screened.
Inaugurating the festival, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee touched upon the struggle which people associated with cinema had to undergo due to the pandemic and the lockdown. She said there is “pain in our hearts for all those we lost in the course of the year”.
She said that organising KIFF amidst the pandemic had been a challenge. “It is true this time we are holding it on a smaller scale, but we are still holding the festival nevertheless. Many others have not been able to muster the courage… But Bengal is the cultural capital,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Ms. Banerjee announced that 100% occupancy would be allowed in cinema halls during the week-long KIFF.
“At present, because of the pandemic, only 50% occupancy in cinema halls is allowed. I will ask the [State] Chief Secretary to come up with a notification today so that 100% seats can be occupied,” the Chief Minister said.
A number of actors and prominent film personalities were present at the inaugural event at the State Secretariat. Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan joined the event virtually.
This year, KIFF will showcase 81 full-length feature films from 45 countries and 51 short films and documentaries. The inaugural film was Satyajit Ray’s classic Apur Sansar, the third film of the Apu trilogy featuring Soumitra Chatterjee. The films will be screened at State-run halls Nandan, Rabindra Sadan, Calcutta Information Centre and Sisir Mancha, among others.