| Aishwarya Rai on the beach at this year’s Cannes film festival
Panaji, June 1: Goa could see visitors get another reason to stop by with the government confident that the state could stage a smaller version of the Cannes international film festival.
A Goan delegation which recently returned from the film festival on the French coast says it is confident “we can do it”.
The Centre is thought to be seriously considering shifting its international film festival from Delhi to Goa, possibly by 2004. “A formal decision is expected in the second week of June,” an official source said.
Egged on by the Confederation of Indian Industry, which was among the first backers of the idea, Goa feels it could do a good job of staging the film festival. This is despite the lack of large auditoriums, adequate transport and related infrastructure needed for such a festival.
“To begin with, we would need a 1,000-1,500 seater hall and others that can seat 500 or 250. But there have also been suggestions of open screenings on beaches, as done in festivals like Nogarno (Japan) where huge hangers with mounted screens are set up,” the source said.
Last fortnight, a three-member team of health minister Suresh Amonkar (in his capacity as the chief minister’s representative), information secretary Jayashree Raghuraman and director, information, Rajesh Singh went to Cannes.
Goa had a pavillion there, making it, perhaps, the first Indian state to show its direct interest in the festival. Little thought had been given to staging an international festival in Goa until Delhi spoke about the possibility of doing a Cannes in Goa.
Among others to register their presence at Cannes were giant Indian private players like Ramoji Films (US), the Hindujas’ films network, one of the largest distributors of Indian films globally, and Eros International.
Even if it can’t do things on the level of Cannes, Goa believes it can manage a smaller version of international festivals staged in Cannes, Berlin, Moscow, Nogarno, Pusan (South Korea) and Milan.
Chief minister Manohar Parrikar has committed state funding up to Rs 80 crore if nobody else comes up with a proposal from the private sector.
Critics point to the lack of film-viewing culture in Goa. But others counter that the state has the right ambience and that Goa is a brand name recognised internationally.
Journalist Francis Dias, an expat Goan who has been covering film festivals for two decades, says the state has the potential to become a location for film shooting and an international film festival. But he adds that it does not make sense to “kid ourselves as to the cost of hosting the latter”.
However, officials here are upbeat that even if Goa “starts from scratch”, it could build up a global presence in a decade-and-half. Cannes has offered to act as a consultant for Goa at a cost.