International Film Festival of India (IFFI)

(Ministry of Information & Broadcasting)

Main Reference: Press Information Bureau (PIB) Research Unit Backgrounder

“IFFI and Indian cinema have carved out a niche for themselves on the global stage. As the biggest film festival of India, IFFI promotes an invigorating synergy between delegates from different nations and societies, united by cinema.”

- Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi

Introduction to Film Festivals

Films are one of the most highly-charged and soul stirring mediums to tell an impactful story and film festivals are the perfect places for these stories to come to light. A vital link in the chain of global film culture, film festivals are presentations, screenings and/or events organised by local governments, private institutions, film societies and/or art associations to showcase a wide variety of films to local audience, cinephiles and film critics alike. The idea is to provide filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their art to a real live audience and to have their films reviewed by professional critics.

Founded in 1932 in Italy, the Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. Initially known as the Esposizione d’Arte Cinematografica (Exhibition of Cinematographic Arts), which was a part of that year’s Venice Biennale, the second to be held under the aegis of the Italian fascist government. In 1946, post-war France, the Cannes Film

Festival took place for the first time and today, it is one of the most exclusive ‘invite-only’ international film festivals which takes place annually in Southern France. The Berlin International Film Festival was created for the Berlin Public in 1951, at the beginning of the Cold War, as a “showcase of the free world.” Over 400 films of all genres, lengths and formats are shown in the various sections and special presentations of the Berlinale in Germany.

These three film festivals - Venice International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Festival (Berlinale) – are the most prestigious film festivals in the world and are known as the “Big Three.” Bringing together new and diverse filmmakers, other top film festivals include Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) from North America, Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) from Australia, Busan International Film Festival from South Korea, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) from Netherlands and Locarno Film Festival from Switzerland amongst others.

History of Indian Films

Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, better known as Dadasaheb Phalke, released the first ever full- length feature film by name ‘Raja Harischandra’ in the year 1913 which was a sweeping success. It inspired a new generation of eager filmmakers and artists who pioneered the Indian film industry. Several new production companies emerged in the early 1920s. Films based on mythological and important historical facts and episodes from Mahabharata and Ramayana dominated the entire 20s.

Beginning of the Talkies

Talkies get their name from the recorded dialogue that played in sync with the images on screen. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical. At first, the sound films which included synchronized dialogue, known as "talking pictures", or "talkies", were exclusively shorts. Indian Cinema witnessed a huge change both in technology and technique of film production in 30s known as the era of the ‘Talkies.’ A major milestone in this era was “India's first talkie, 'Alam Ara’ that was directed and released by Ardeshir Irani in 1931. The film released in Hindi and Urdu and instantly set a fresh trend in the history of Indian Cinema. The decade of 30s witnessed the upsurge of music in Indian film industry that led to evergreen musicals like Indra Sabha and Devi Devyani, signifying the beginning of song- and-dance in films. Film Studios were established throughout Indian as film making emerged as the popular industry by the year 1935, demonstrated by the achievement of Devdas which attracted audience nationally. Bombay Talkies came up in the year 1934 and Prabhat Studios in Pune had begun production of films meant for the Marathi language viewers.

From 1940s to Golden 1950s

The decades of 30s and 40s were chaotic period for India. The subcontinent was hit by the Great Depression, World War II, Freedom Movement and the Indo-Pak partition disasters. During that era, mainstream Indian movies were extremely escapists with a few filmmakers who focused on pertinent socio-political genres in their productions. 40s and 50s in Indian cinema was primarily the era of songs and dance with some of the classics from the two decades. It was the era that witnessed emergence of the 'playback singing and dubbing. Music became an imperative element in that era and singing stars such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Muhamd Rafi, and Kishore Kumar conquered the Hindi film industry. The period from late 40s to 50s was viewed as the Golden Age of Indian Cinema by most film veterans. Fifties was mainly the most valued period in Hindi film industry glittered with gleaming directors and artistes with their individual signature skill and style.

Satyajit Ray’s classic film 'Pather Panchali' released in the year 1953 proved to be a key breakthrough for Indian film industry globally that won the reputed Cannes award in the best film category and led to various international and domestic honours and awards. Several films from that era, like Bimal Roy's 'Do Bigha Zamin', Mehboob Khan's 'Mother India'(1957), Raj Kapoor's 'Shree 420' (1955) and 'Awaraa'(1951), Guru Dutt's 'Pyasa'(1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), set new records at the box office. These films highlighted social themes dealing with working-class.

Decades of 1960s and 70s:

In the two decades, production of mega- budget movies alongside art films came into huge demand. The evergreen movies of 60s and 70s include Kamal Amrohi's Pakeeza, Raj Kapoor's Bobby, Ramesh Sippy's Sholay, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Amar Akbar Anthony, Kabhi Kabhi, and Muqaddar ka Sikandar. This action plus romantic era had its own shine including stars such as Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Dharmendra and Mumtaz. By the mid of 70s love stories gave way to the aggressive action themes about gangsters. Amitabh Bachchan conquered the silver screen with other male leads like Mithun Chakraborty and Anil Kapoor and female actresses like Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha for many years. On the other side, Hindi producers including Shyam Benegal , Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul, Ketan Mehta and Govind Nihalani had the recognition of keeping alive Hindi parallel cinema all through 70s.

Era of 1980s and 1990s:

In the late 80s and early 90s, there was a remarkable move from gangster genres to romantic musicals. Movies like. A new class of stars emerged from these films including Aamir Khan,

Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Sri Devi, Madhuri Dixit and Kajol. It was also the age of action and humour cinema and film stars such as Govinda and Akshay Kumar often cast for the particular genre. Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay (1988) won the Camera d'Or at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and was listed for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Shyam Benegal's Bhumika, Govind Nihlani's Aaghat, Damul (Prakash Jha), 36- Chowringhee Lane (Aparna Sen) and Roja were some of the momentous films of 80s and 90s.

Rise of Regional Cinema:

The Indian Film Industry is the combination of several regional film industries that are distinct and patronised by leading regional languages, cultures and history of the geographical locations/ regions. The first Bengali Feature Film, Billwamangal, was produced in 1919, under the banner of Madan Theatre. With the arrival of the Talkies in 1931, the Indian Film Industry turned increasingly ethnic, regional and vernacular. The Bengali cinema has been dominated for over three decades now by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Ritwik Ghatak. The first talkie films in Bengali (Jumai Shasthi), Telugu (Bhakta Prahlad) and Tamil (Kalidass) were released in the same year i.e. 1931. The first Gujarati film was a two-reeler entitled Mumbaini Sethani, released on April 9, 1932 . The first talkie feature in Gujrati was Narsinh Mehto in 1932. Telegu cinema shot into the limelight in 1981 with K. Viswanath’s Sankarabaranam which bagged the Golden Lotus for Mass Entertainer with Aesthetic Values. The first Assamese film was Jyotiprasad Agarwala’s Joymati, released in 1935. According to the census of India in 1991, out of 144 regional languages of India, films were produced in about 30 languages wherein each of the larger languages supports its own film industries including Marathi, Tamil (Kollywood), Telugu (Tollywood), Bengali, Gujrati (Gollywood), Malayalam (Mollywood), Assamese and Kannada (Sandalwood) languages.

Film Administration

Due to the “rapid growth in the popularity of cinematograph and increasing number of such exhibitions in India," a Bill was introduced in the imperial legislative council, in 1917. It recommended the creation of a law that would ensure both safety and the “protection of the public from indecent or otherwise objectionable representations." Thus was born the Cinematograph Act of 1918, and, with it, film censorship in India. The Indian Cinematograph Act came into effect in the year 1920, seven years after the production of India's first film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ directed by Dadasaheb Phalke. S.K. Patil Commission evaluated Indian film industry in 40s to assess its significance and status. According to the Commission’s report, Indian cinema is an amalgamation of art, business and showmanship with its commercial value.

The commission suggested institution of the Film Finance Corporation under the patronage of the Ministry of Finance. However, its recommendations were implemented much later in the year 1960s in order to give monetary assistance to competent filmmakers and producers across India.

After the 1947 independence of India, autonomous regional censors were absorbed into the Bombay Board of Film Censors. The Cinematograph Act of 1952 reorganised the Bombay board into the Central Board of Film Censors. With the 1983 revision of cinematography rules, the body was renamed the Central Board of Film Certification.

Films Division was established in 1948 to articulate the energy of a newly independent nation. For more than seven decades, the organization has relentlessly striven to maintain a record of the social, political and cultural imaginations and realities of the country on film. It has actively worked in encouraging and promoting a culture of film-making in India that respects individual vision and social commitment.

Since 1952, many films have been banned or been forced to make modifications through cuts or changing names or titles of the film. In 1973, some minor amendments were made in the act. However, in the year 1983, major changes in the rules were brought into force through a notification dated 9th May 1983 by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, GOI. It laid detailed rules regarding the members, regional centres, application seeking for certification, certificate and period of validity of certificates, fees, tribunals and various forms to be used in different situations. In Dec 1991, M/o I&B issued a notification regarding guidelines to be followed by the Board of Film Certification.

Recent Developments in Films Administration

  • • An Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice Mukul Mudgal was constituted in 2013 to examine the issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
  • • Another Committee of Experts was set up under the Chairmanship of Shri Shyam Benegal in 2016 to evolve broad guidelines for certification within the ambit of the Cinematograph Act and Rules. The recommendations made by both the Committee of Experts have been examined in the Ministry and efforts have been made to consider all the relevant issues through internal reviews of the Act in consultation with various stakeholders.

To tackle the menace of film piracy, The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 12.02.2019 after getting Cabinet approval on 06.02.2019, wherein it was proposed to insert a new section 6AA and a new sub-section (1A) in Section 7 of the Act. The Standing Committee on Information Technology (2019-20) presented the 9th Report on Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 16.03.2020. The observations/recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Information Technology in the Report have been examined and it is proposed to suitably revise the clauses in the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 based on the recommendations made by the Committee.

  • • Setting up of the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) at National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) – it is mandated to promote and position India as a preferred destination for filmmakers across the world and create an environment that eases filming in the country. FFO is India’s single window clearance and facilitation mechanism for International and Indian filmmakers and also the online repository of filmic information.
  • • The Film Facilitation Office has facilitated 120 international film makers from 27 countries to shoot in India, in last 5-6 years since its formation in 2015; domestic films only 70.
  • • Merger of Five Film Media Units into National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) through rationalization of infrastructure, manpower and other resources. This will ensure promotion, production & preservation of filmic content - all under one management. The vision of the new entity is to ensure balanced and focused development of Indian cinema in all its genres-feature films, including films /content for the OTT platforms, children's content, animation, short films and documentaries.
  • • The Best State Film Friendly award, given by the President of India. It is an invitation to all states to compete for this award, facilitate film shooting and reap benefits of shooting and filming in India.

History of IFFI

Founded in 1952, soon after India’s independence, IFFI was an embodiment of the values inherited from our freedom struggle. India’s struggle for national liberation from the British was guided by the ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity while values like non- violence, unity in diversity, solidarity to social life were paramount. The concept and theme of IFFI is rooted in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” the phrase which exemplifies the Indian notion of non-violence and peaceful coexistence.

‘Ayam bandhurayam neti gananā laghuchetasām, Udāracharitānām tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam’

The above extract from the Vedic scripture Maha Upanishad, means 'One is my brother and the other is not – is the thinking of a narrow-minded person. For those who are broad-minded, liberals, or noble people, the entire world is a one big family.'

1st Edition of International Film Festival of India

The first edition of IFFI was organized by the Films Division, Government of India, with the patronage of the first Prime Minister of India. Held in Mumbai from 24 January to 1 February 1952, the festival was subsequently taken to Madras, Delhi and Calcutta. In all it had about 40 features and 100 short films. In Delhi, the IFFI was inaugurated by Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on 21 February 1952.

Since its beginnings in 1952, the IFFI has been the biggest event of its type in India. Subsequent IFFI’s were held in New Delhi. From the 3rd edition in January 1965, IFFI’s became competitive. In 1975 the Filmotsav, non-competitive and to be held in other filmmaking cities in alternate years, was introduced. Later, Filmotsavs were merged in IFFI’s. In 2004 the IFFI was moved to Goa. Since then, the festival has been held annually and is competitive.

The IFFI aims to provide a common platform for the cinemas of the world to project the excellence of the film art; contributing to the understanding and appreciation of film cultures of different nations in the context of their social and cultural ethos; and promote friendship and cooperation among people of the world.

The IFFI’s founding principles centre on discovery, promotion and support of filmmaking of all genres – thus bringing together the diversity of the forms, aesthetics and contents. The festival is an assembly of people and nations where the world’s greatest film artistes.

hold hands with emerging talents on an equal footing. It is also a forum for film professionals to communicate face to face with film lovers around the world.

IFFI aims to nurture, encourage and inspire Indian cinema and introduce it to the world outside as well as the many audiences that coexist in this vast and diverse country. With rapid technology changes, the importance of this festival will only grow as it will bring viewers and filmmakers together and expose them to emerging technologies and the challenge of the emerging new media.

Over the years, with each successful festival, new interactions are envisaged; new strategies to be formulated so that with each edition of the IFFI, the viewing experience is enhanced, enlarged and enriched.

An exterior view of the entrance to the International film festival exhibition grounds in Bombay.

Shri R.R. Diwakar, Minister of State for I&B to meet the delegates to the I.E. Festival at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on February 22, 1952.

Entrance to the International Film Festival Grounds in Bombay.

Posters and stills exhibited in the Czechoslovakian stall of the International film festival exhibition in Bombay.

Golden Jubilee of IFFI

In 2019, the golden jubilee or the 50th edition of IFFI brought to the shores of Goa the best of recent International cinema, along with special sections such as Golden Peacock Retrospective, Debut Film Competition, Soul of Asia retrospective, Master Filmmakers collection, Festival Kaleidoscope section, Accessible Films for Differently Abled, World Panorama 2019, Filmmaker in Focus, Restored Indian Classics, ICFT-UNESCO Gandhi Medal competition, Retrospective of Indian New Wave Cinema, Konkani Film Package and Dadasaheb Phalke Award. The 50th edition of IFFI also showcased fifty films of fifty women directors which reflect the contribution of women in cinema.

In order to celebrate the spirit of 50 Golden Years of International Film Festival of India, the Films Division had curated a package of 17 MIFF award-winning films made in the last 10 years. Movies that gained recognition internationally at various other film festivals like Cannes film festival, Venice film festival, Berlin international film festival, Mumbai international film festival, Sundance film festival, Busan international film festival were featured as part of the 50th edition. The specially curated “Homage Section” paid tribute to 13 eminent individuals who had contributed to Indian cinema during their lifetime. Two-time Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach had a Retrospective Section at the festival.

IFFI 2021

The 52nd International Film Festival of India was held in Goa from November 20 to 28 in a ‘hybrid manner’ due to COVID-19. People were able to witness the festival online while the opening and closing ceremonies were organized in Goa, with a smaller audience.

The 52nd edition of IFFI was special in so many ways, as it marked various unique initiatives:

  • • Collaboration with OTT platforms - Major OTT players such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, Voot and Sony Liv participated at the Film Festival through exclusive master classes, content launches and previews, curated film package screenings, and various other on-ground and virtual events.
  • • Recognising 75 Creative Minds of Tomorrow to mark Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav – A platform for young budding talent from across India to connect with mainstream cinema filmmakers and the industry. 75 creative minds (under 35 years) were invited to interact with industry leaders and attend masterclasses at the festival.
  • • BRICS Film Festival - Films from five nations forming BRICS were showcased through the BRICS Film Festival alongside IFFI. The five countries viz. Brazil, Russia, South Africa, China and India were also the Focus Countries of the 52nd IFFI

IFFI 2022: Introduction, Jury, New Initiatives & Line-up

The 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India was held in Goa from 20-28 November, 2022. Each year the festival is conducted jointly by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the State Government of Goa. The IFFI Organizing body consists of a steering committee chaired by the Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and co- chaired by Chief Minister of Goa along with other official and non-official members.

This year’s edition saw participation from over 78 countries ,received a total of 871 non-Indian films out of which a total of 182 films were shown.

Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award to Spanish film director – Carlos Saura

Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura, who received the Golden Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival for Deprisa Deprisa, along with two Silver Bears for La caza and Peppermint Frappe, a BAFTA for Carmen and three awards at Cannes, among several others, was honoured with the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award and an eight-film retrospective at IFFI 2022 in Goa.

Opening Film and Closing Film

The Austrian film ‘Alma and Oskar’, directed by Dieter Berner, opened the annual festival while Krzysztof Zanussi’s ‘Perfect Number’ was the closing film.

Country Focus

France was the ‘Spotlight’ country and 8 films were screened under ‘Country Focus’ package.

Dadasaheb Phalke winner retrospective

Three films of 52nd Dadasaheb Phalke awardee (declared in the 68th National Film Awards) Asha Parekh –Teesri Manzil, Do Badan and Kati Patang were screened as part of the Asha Parekh retrospective.


The ‘Homage’ section included fifteen Indian and five international films. Tributes will be paid to Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar, singer-composer Bappi Lahiri, Kathak maestro Pt. Birju Maharaj, actors Ramesh Deo, Shivkumar Subhramanium, T. Rama Rao, Vatsala Deshmukh, Maheshwari Amma, Salim Ghouse, singer KK, director Tarun Majumder, director-producer Ravi Tandon and Saawan Kumar Tak, actor and theatre artist Nipon Goswami, actor and film maker Pratap Pothen, actor Krishnam Raju and singer Bhupinder Singh.

In the International section, homage was paid to the film geniuses Bob Rafelson, Ivan Reitman, Peter Bogdanovich, Douglas Trumbell and Monica Vitti.

New initiatives at IFFI 53

1. Books to Box-office

The new Book Adaptation Program Books to Box-office has been introduced as an initiative to bridge the gap between good stories printed in books and good films that can be made by adapting books. Some of the best publishers were also present to sell the rights of the books that can be turned into on screen content.

2. Art Meets Accessibility

With an objective to ensure that the process of creating art becomes accessible to all, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) conducted two free courses for persons with disabilities – a basic course in smartphone film making for people with Autism and a basic course in screen acting for people in wheelchairs - as part of IFFI 53.

Further, films, like Richard Attenborough’s Oscar winning Gandhi, screened in the ‘Divyangjan’ section was audio-visually equipped with embedded audio descriptions and subtitles. This was IFFI’s small attempt to make cinema accessible to even differently-abled film aficionados and promote the spirit of inclusivity.

3. First feature film starring only Indigenous People

'Dhabari Quruvi' - first feature film in Indian film history to have a star cast comprising only indigenous people was showcased at IFFI 53. The 104-minute-long feature film had its world premiere in the Indian Panorama section.

4. Educating and Engaging through ‘Animation’

IFFI 53 showcased five animated films of various genres from different parts of the world in a specially curated animated segment.

Looking ahead@54th IFFI 2023

Preparations including Film Entries have already begun for 54th IFFI, that will be held from 20th to 28th November 2023 in Panjim, Goa. This year’s IFFI will carry forward the new initiatives of previous edition and also will attempt to bring in newer components. NFDC this year has collaborated with prestigious National Institute of Design (NID) for the designing of IFFI components. The new IFFI poster designed by NID and IFFI Trailer are being launched by Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Dr L Murugan at Cannes on 17th May 2023. Programming of this year’s IFFI promises to be vibrant, dynamic and inclusive of different themes and diversities. Keep visiting IFFI website for more news and updates...!!

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