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Art is a means to sustain humanity, says Pinarayi Vijayan at inauguration of 23rd IFFK

The Kerala chief minister praised the festival as a 'testament to the solidarity of cinema lovers' across the state. 

Shriram Iyengar

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in the state capital Trivandrum today by lighting the lamp of solidarity. The chief minister also presented Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi with the Lifetime Achievement award.

At the Nishagandhi auditorium, one of the biggest rounds of applause, aside from Majidi, was reserved for chief minister Pinarayi. The reception was a reflection of the chief minister's decision to go ahead with the festival despite the state having suffered the worst floods in its history.

Speaking of the decision, Pinarayi said, "Festivals are the main medium to promote secular ideas as well as a means to sustain humanity. IFFK is proof of this propagation. Kerala didn’t give up in the catastrophic setting of the unexpected flood; this year’s festival is testament of the solidarity of cinema lovers."

The ceremony was presided over by AK Balan, Kerala's minister for law, cultural affairs, parliamentary affairs, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes development.

Filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta was the chief guest, while actress-filmmaker Nandita Das was the guest of honour. 

Praising the audience, Dasgupta said, "I think this is the most important festival... and to attend. We have reason to lose hope. I see whatever is happening and how a culture is being turned. But when I come back to Kerala, I get back my faith and my hope." 

Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and jury chairman Majidi, who received the Lifetime Achievement award, said, “More than any award and achievements, I personally would like to cherish the priceless warmth and kindness from the audience.” The filmmaker began his speech with 'Namaste', which earned him quite a few whistles.

Minister Kadakampally Surendran launched the Festival Handbook by handing it over to VK Prasanth, mayor of Thiruvananthapuram (aka Trivandrum). “Even though we overcame the disaster, the repercussions are still following us and rebuilding remains a challenge,” the minister said. 

“Our festival is a culmination and coming together of the intelligentsia who not only read, think but also love films,” he added.

Dasgupta presented Das with Sameeksha, the Kerala Chalachitra Academy film magazine's festival issue.

Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) chairman M Vijayakumar inaugurated the festival bulletin by presenting it to Academy award-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty.

Among the guests in the audience were filmmakers Vetrimaaran, Umesh Kulkarni, Kumar Shahani and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, all members of the jury chaired by Majidi.

The event concluded with the screening of Asghar Farhadi's film, Todos Las Saben (Everybody Knows) as the opening film of the festival. The screening was also the India premiere of Farhadi's film. 

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