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Interview English (India) Hindi

It's a journey I did not anticipate when I started IFFLA, says founder Christina Marouda 

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles founder talks abut how the festival was born out of a love for Indian cinema, which was largely ignored by most international  film festivals 18 years ago. 

Sukhpreet Kahlon

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) recently announced a special virtual showcase of films titled, Over the Years: 17 days celebrating 17 years of Indian cinema, which began on 19 June and will continue till 5 July. With over 120 narrative features, documentaries, and short films by festival alumni that will be available for viewing on the festival's website, IFFLA presents an unique opportunity for cinephiles across the world to enjoy films from their programming over the years. 

Speaking about the initiative in the wake of the current pandemic, IFFLA founder Christina Marouda said, “We really needed to do something and did not want to take the line-up that we had announced for this year online because we really wanted to save it for when things went back to some sort of normalcy and we could have a regular festival. Many of these films were either world, US or LA premieres, and we did not want to go online with those films.”

So the festival got in touch with its alumni and planned an online retrospective of films that have been a part of the festival over the years. “We reached out to over 500 filmmakers. Some films were easy to get because there were no complicated contracts in place and some others required a lot more back and forth with distributors, producers etc. A small number of films are available on Netflix and Amazon because we did not want to rule them out. The filmmakers were so excited to participate. For us, we see it as our commitment and the fact that we owe it to the audiences and filmmakers at this time,” she said.

There has been a debate within film festivals about making films available online. With more and more festivals opting to engage their audience through digital platforms, one wonders if that will slowly become the norm.

Contemplating these changes, she said: “My sense is that we will come out of all of this being even more eager to be at festivals after everything is safe. But if someone decides to go online because distribution will be difficult, there is already a path that has been created through this process. So people, especially independent filmmakers, will be more open and less obsessed with theatrical distribution.”

Marouda also spoke about her 18-year journey with IFFLA, which she started and built over the years. “It has been a journe said.y that I did not anticipate when I started. I knew there was a niche, and I knew that someone needed to do something about it because a lot of international festivals 18 years ago, were completely ignoring Indian cinema. I had loved Indian cinema when I was growing up in Greece, so that was very dear to my heart and it was one of the reasons why I did this," she said.

"In the beginning, it was quite stressful…Even during the lockdown…I got this going because I felt that it has a life of its own that we need to continue. At the same time, it gives me a lot of satisfaction and a reason to be creative, productive and effective and make a difference. It helps me with my professional and also personal life,” she added.

The virtual showcase of films is available for viewing on the IFFLA website till 5 July.

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