Bridging the gap in films

2014-01-16 00:00

SOME of the best films in Indian regional languages, very rarely seen in South Africa, will be screened across the country next week as part of the Indian International Film Festival of South Africa (IIFFSA).

The brainchild of Rajiv Terwadker of Uttkarsh Projects, IIFFSA is a three-pronged venture that aims to bring together the Indian and South African film industries to promote the diverse cultures of both countries.

A total of 25 titles in Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu and Tamil — all subtitled in English — will be shown at Ster-Kinekor cinemas in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria from January 17 to 23. Some of these titles, such as the acclaimed Astu in Marathi, have been lauded at international film festivals across the globe.

“This genre of cinema is an important focus for us, and it is pleasing to know that we can now offer not just Bollywood [Hindi] and Tamil cinema as we have been doing for a while now, but also other languages at our cinemas. This has become possible because of the digital conversion across all our sites that enables us to access more digital prints and not have to wait for 35mm reels any longer,” marketing executive of Ster-Kinekor Doug Place said at the launch of IIFFSA in Johannesburg yesterday.

Terwadker said the aim of IIFFSA is to use cinema as a medium to discover and train local actors and film-makers, as well as starting community development projects in both India and South Africa.

This second leg of the exercise will result in one young South African film-maker getting a scholarship to study at the world-renowned Whistling Woods Studios established by veteran Indian film-maker Subhash Ghai in India.

The third element of IIFFSA is the IIFFSA Awards, which will take place at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

Prolific South Indian legend SP Balasubramaniam will receive the inaugural SA Terwadker Award for outstanding achievement in Indian cinema. Balasubramaniam, who has over 40 000 songs in several Indian languages to his credit, will also feature in an event at the Mount Edgecombe Mariamman Temple in Phoenix, Durban, on Sunday.

Several other awards for Indian and South African films will also be made.

Santosh Pathare, who organised the awards event from Mumbai, said a jury of Indian film experts judged the South African entries and vice versa.

“In that way, we would have the juries looking at movies in languages that they probably do not understand, but looking at the cinematic values only, to make the judging process fair,” Pathare said.

A host of stars from the regional Indian cinema industry are expected to attend the awards ceremony and share their skills in workshops on direction and choreography at the Indian Cultural Centre in Johannesburg over the next week, adding a further empowerment facet to IIFFSA.

Place and Terwadker both said they were excited about growing the joint festival of Indian and SA cinema into an annual event.

Details of all the films to be screened are available at

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