INDIA. New Delhi: Vevek Paul, who is best known for producing the National Geographic shows “Science of Stupid” and “Animals Gone Wild,” recently brought a unique big screen film viewing experience to the capital called The Great Indian Film Festival (TGIFF). The cinemas are finally open and the cinephiles at last are getting a taste of some good old big screen magic and the TGIFF made most of the opportunity.
Paul is committed to providing a global platform to amateur as well as professional filmmakers to showcase their short films and documentaries. In his own words, “TGIFF is a cultural initiative aimed at popularizing the world cinema and bringing young as well as experienced filmmakers on a single platform where their submissions will be scrutinized by some of the very well-known figures from India as well as abroad.
Held at PVR Select City Walk, Saket, TGIFF 2021 opened with the screening of the Oscar-winning short film “The Neighbors’ Window” by the American filmmaker Marshall Curry. Tunisian-American filmmaker Meryam Joobeur’s Oscar-nominated short film ‘Brotherhood’ was also screened at the festival. Some other important films that got screened at the festival included the Maniesh Paul starrer “Hichki”, Sonu Nigam starrer “Spotless”, Shankar Mahadevan starrer “Decoding Shankar”, Manjot Singh Starrer “Dream 1”, “Doorbeen”, “Halwa”, the Oscar-nominee “Sister”, and “Shahi Paneer”, among others.
The festival was supposed to take place earlier this year but it got delayed due to the second wave of the pandemic. The dignitaries present at the opening ceremony included Mrs. Hayet Talbi, the Ambassador to India from Tunisia, Anthony Miranda, Cultural and Educational Affairs Counsellor, U.S. Mission to India, US Consulate, Sandeep Marwah, Founder of AAFT University, actor Maniesh Paul, YouTube sensation Sumeir Pasricha, and actor-producer Sohila Kapoor.
The festival has some interesting categories for film selection. Other than a category dedicated films released on YouTube, there is also a mobile SIM category in the festival. “The beauty of The Great Indian Film Festival is that it is able to bring global platform of filmmakers together. We have had the pleasure of seeing films from various different languages and cultures. The message and the language of art is universal and it transcends through various cultures equally. The mobile SIM category in the festival is really interesting as it gives an opportunity to the creative minds to translate their imagination into a film which can eventually reach the big screen through The Great Indian Film Festival,” said Anthony Miranda, Cultural and Educational Affairs Counsellor, U.S. Mission to India, US Consulate.
Mrs. Hayet Talbi, the Ambassador to India from Tunisia, extended her compliments to The Great Indian Film Festival. “It was a very good experience attending The Great Indian Film Festival which had very insightful discussions on filmmaking. It’s a great platform which amalgamates young and experienced filmmakers on a single platform. We saw three different films in the opening segment with three different cultures and topics and the beauty of it is that even without subtitles you are able to understand these films and the emotions they convey.”
The short films and documentaries for the festival were curated by an international jury comprising the likes of Javed Jaffrey, Gulshan Grover, Gajraj Rao, and Bruno Smadja, who is the founder of the Mobile Film Festival, among others. What started in a co-working space in Gurugram back in 2019 has substantially grown into a full-fledged festival with the participation of filmmakers from 18 countries, including Tunisia, Russia, USA, Canada, Singapore, Italy, Taiwan, etc. Paul intends it to be a traveling festival. For its next edition in February 2022, it will travel all the way to Dubai.
Actor-Anchor Maniesh Paul, who hosts Vevek Paul’s show “Science of Stupid,” was thrilled to be at the festival. “Attending TGIFF was a very emotional and proud moment for me, as the festival is founded by my brother Vivek Paul. I had a great time flying especially for the festival to Delhi and was happy that through this festival the movies came back to theatres. What is the most heartening thing about the festival is that whether the film is a three-minute project or whether a 60-minute-long one; whether it’s made by a student or by a renowned filmmaker – the same treatment is given to every project and the filmmaker. And the films are given a screening at a venue like PVR absolutely free. I wish the festival all the best, as it travels all the way to Dubai next year,” said Maniesh Paul.
Talking about the ceremony and the festival, Vevek added, “The festival has started with good wishes. With the presence of film lovers, filmmakers and my esteemed panel of guests, I feel elated when I see short film makers coming to the festival with their families and they show their films on the big. I was happy that the festival was opened in the presence of so many dignitaries. I feel on top of the world.”