Tag: Bengaluru

Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES): 8 Observations

poster of Bangalore film fest

Earlier in 2020 before the Covid-19 outbreak paralysed all my travel plans, I was fortunate to attend the 12th edition of the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES). I managed to attend the festival for two days and watch a total of five films. It was a fairly exciting experience for someone like me who – in my first solo trip – took a bus from Mumbai to Bengaluru just to attend the fest which is perhaps Karnataka’s biggest cinema extravaganza. Yes, I’m a film enthusiast. And this was an important trip for me because I was also in need of a break after a certain kind of failure in February.

It was my first time at the festival, so I thought I would take the free time during this lockdown to jot down some of my thoughts about BIFFES. Essentially, these might answer some of your questions if you plan to attend it in the following years. The biggest one being: is Bengaluru film festival worth going to? The short answer is yes.

My Experience at the Bengaluru Film Festival

The first day, after alighting at the Navrang Theatre junction, I walked to my hotel and checked in. I took a shower, and without grabbing breakfast, went straight to Orion Mall where PVR was hosting the film festival across 11 of its screens.

I observed the following things when I entered the film fest scene:

  1. You don’t have to book seats. Unlike the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) – where you have to reserve your seats online on BookMyShow for each show – here your festival registration is sufficient. You follow the schedule for the day and directly enter or join the queue outside the hall where your chosen film is going to be screened. As simple as that. And because there is no seat reservation required, there is only one queue per auditorium
  2. Eleven screens in a single venue is like a dream come true in a film festival organisation.[1]Out of these, at the BIFFES, 2-3 are reserved for jury screenings. Much like how it is for the Cannes[2]The Cannes film festival takes place entirely at a single large venue – the Palace of Festivals and Conferences – which has a total area of 3,80,000 square feet containing, among other rooms and offices, 18 film screening auditoriums the largest of which (Auditorium Louis Lumière) can seat 2,300 people. (https://en.palaisdesfestivals.com/meeting-space-and-lay-out) it is one of BIFFES’ biggest advantage over MAMI MFF where venues are scattered across places that are 10-30 kilometres apart from each other. Here, I didn’t have to spend time travelling between venues, something that a lot of people complain about other film festivals in India like the IFFI in Goa (and something that I frequently observed at the EUFF in 2019). In the 12th edition, BIFFES also had three more venues: the legendary Navrang Theatre at Rajajinagar, Dr. Rajkumar Bhavana at Chamarajpet, and Suchitra Film Society (the farthest from South Bengaluru)
  3. The queues are bearable. Because I had planned my trip for the weekend, I was expecting huge crowds at the venue. Also since Orion Mall was the largest of the four venues, I was also expecting serpentine queues outside each screen. To my surprise, I found the queues much more bearable than how things are at other Indian film festivals. Even for popular films like Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven, I was able to get inside the hall despite joining the queue just 10 minutes before the show. (Of course, again, this is relative to Mumbai standards)
Long lines at Bangalore film fest
Delegates lining up on Day 1 of BIFFES 2020 / via FB
  1. Cafeteria food is affordable. PVR in Mumbai usually robs you and turns you half richer by the end of a film festival, but not in Bengaluru. And if the regular low prizes of food and confectioneries are not enough, the fest ran a 50% flat off on everything for festival delegates in its 12th edition. This was especially useful because Orion Mall – being the only major mall in South Bengaluru – was crowded on both the days I attended the festival. The food court? Even more so
  2. Each film is introduced in both Kannada and English before the screening. I liked this small feature which formally gave out a bit more information about the film being screened; its language and country of origin, director, and running time
  3. The crowd is more responsible. They maintained cinema theatre etiquette, and more importantly, didn’t remind me of my own imaginary theatre
Tejas Nair at Bangalore film festival
That’s me at the fest
  1. Post-screening Q&As are rare. This was disappointing to learn because one of the pros of attending a film festival is that you can meet and/or listen to a film’s cast and crew to get more insights about their creations. Out of the five films I caught, Q&A was suggested only for one film (Geetha J’s Run Kalyani) but a majority people walked out soon after the credits began to roll. So, it didn’t happen
  2. VIP culture is absent or restricted. This is another great feature of the Bengaluru film festival where all delegates are treated equally unless you are part of a film’s crew (which is fair). I was able to sit on any row that I wanted and no usher was present to tell me otherwise.

If you’re curious, I watched and reviewed the following five films:

  • Psychobitch (dir. Martin Lund)
  • Biriyaani (dir. Sajin Baabu)
  • It Must Be Heaven (dir. Elia Suleiman)
  • Run Kalyani (dir. Geetha J)
  • Market (dir. Pradip Kurbah)

Here are some pictures that would further help summarise the film fest.

Overall, I had a fun time at the 12th edition of the Bengaluru film festival. So much that I have plans to go back in 2021 provided travel restrictions ease by then. But before that, the question that comes to my mind is: will film festivals exist in this new normal? Screen has some guesses. TN.

Featured image courtesy: BIFFES via FB

footnotes   [ + ]

1. Out of these, at the BIFFES, 2-3 are reserved for jury screenings.
2. The Cannes film festival takes place entirely at a single large venue – the Palace of Festivals and Conferences – which has a total area of 3,80,000 square feet containing, among other rooms and offices, 18 film screening auditoriums the largest of which (Auditorium Louis Lumière) can seat 2,300 people. (https://en.palaisdesfestivals.com/meeting-space-and-lay-out)

A Bangalore Chronicle!

It was January the first and while the whole world was hungover after ushering in 2014 by staying up late & partying their brains out, we, 300 students of SIES Graduate School of Technology (GST), Nerul tried our best to reach Chathrapati Shivaji Terminus by 8 o’clock from different corners of Mumbai. Or on a narrower aspect, while we hurried to catch the train on time, some of our colleagues remained at home, building their most disastrous regret in life: a five-day industrial visit to Bangalore!

A trip always has to start with a bang and no wonder, this one chose not to differ. After few initial glitches about the tickets (the reason which I have kept for later, so as not to deflect from expressing my most emotive memories), we talked, laughed, and danced our way to the clean city or India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore. Sorry, I wouldn’t use Bengaluru for undisclosed reasons.

The wayfaring started with the boarding of train from CST at 7am. It was well coordinated with the help of escorts and volunteers. Every single update of the day’s schedule was informed to all the students via SMS. Special visits to ISKON temple, Brigade road, Cubbon Park, VishveswaraiyyaMuseum and UBCT were also arranged as a part of the industrial visit. There was an ecstatic performance by the impromptu theatre group named Yours Truly. On the whole, the trip was a worthwhile experience. (Manasi Iyer, a Printing & Packaging Tech. student)

The evenings usually were for light events. We visited the huge ISKCON temple and stood for minutes in front of the whole façade, dumbfounded every single time we blinked. Shopping (mostly window-shopping, to be honest), eating, sight-seeing are all one thing and what we saw on the last day at Bangalore was another. A local impromptu theatre group called Yours Truly held us spellbound with their theatrics. They released their fabulous repertoire one after other and we sat there with rapt attention. The best thing about it was that it was a mutual performance: we threw few words at them and they enacted it, with sheer diligence. The seminar hall of J P Cordial was abuzz with roars of laughter. Even the teachers joined us. Some of us previously had some exposure of theater, but this was extraordinary and when I ask people what is the most memorable thing from our trip now, after five months since the IV, they find themselves in a dilemma between this and the industrial visits at ISRO, Coca Cola, NGO Goonj, L&T, Gecko Tag & Sami Labs.

The trip started off with a cramped journey in the train because most of us were in the waiting list. That was a disappointing start. After the wearisome train journey, we reached the hotel in de luxe buses. We were all vivacious on the first sight of Bangalore! The hotel rooms added to our delight. Some of the beautiful places that I liked touring were the ISKCON temple and the Museum. Also, the UB City Mall and the street shopping were absolutely enjoyable. How I wish we got to spend more time there. This trip would positively be in the list of things I will remember my college life with. (Vishakha Nara, a Computer Engineering student)

There are people (which includes me) who always fret over the smallest things and the moment we arrived in Bangalore, rumors started looming around about the hotel that had been chosen for our stay. We got into six luxury buses to reach the hotel. Lo and behold, the hotel, J P Cordial swept these people off their feet and they were the ones who rushed for the best rooms. Fortunately, all rooms were the bees’ knees, although the idea of keeping the girls and boys on different floors made me sad. The gameplan for rest of the second day was to attend seminars by technology companies. The fact that most of us forgot that it was an IV trip is ironical.

A local start-up called Lumos started with its seminar. Gandharv Bakshi, founder, gave excellent tips and while he was actually talking Electronics, we could relate. Students of other steams, meanwhile visited their respective companies. Did I mention that the food we had before the seminar worked charmingly well? The reason I say that is because even if we devour on the nicest cuisines in town during college, the lectures after the break always has the capability to doze even the brightest students off, but in here we were so engrossed into what the speaker had to say, that I found many hearing about the corporate world’s social network LinkedIn for the first time. That effective was the opening seminar.

I was piqued by the large display of information at the Vishvesharaiyya Museum and I remember how some of the nerds enjoyed that specific visit more than how the few enthusiasts enjoyed the metro train travel.

I don’t need to mention those tiny things we took pleasure in while on the trip. Few love stories came out in the open, we saw teachers in an all-together different airs and most importantly, we received the much-needed exposure that would matter when we graduate. I had never heard of Lumos or Purple Squirrel Eduventures before but now both of them are two of the few companies I follow in the digital space.

Now, about the initial glitch: while many of us started deriding the organizers for discrepancies in the tickets, we finally figured out that it was the train’s Ticket Checker and few irresponsible students without ID cards who were to be blamed. Although, some us of didn’t have seat reservations and many complained about the inconvenience that it caused while travelling and sleeping. But what the trip had in store of us in the following days cancelled out all the distress.

PS: This specific post was produced for Purple Squirrel Eduventures, by demand from their PR team, but was possibly rejected due to its wildly honest and genuine chronicling of the industrial visit.

Compiled, with love from Nivedita Sarma & Prerna Tripathi.