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I lost my heart to cinema and have since been devoted to it, says Aruna Vasudev, on being felicitated at BIFFES

The International Federation of Film Critics also commended Narahari Rao and Sudhir Nandgaonkar for being the pillars behind the film society movement in India.  

Sukhpreet Kahlon

At the ongoing Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES), the International Federation of Film Critics or the Federation International de la Presse Cinematographique (FIPRESCI) organized a seminar to discuss the role of critics for the promotion of film festivals. FIPRESCI is an association of film critics from around the world for the “promotion and development of film culture and for the safeguarding of professional interests.”

On the occasion, the contribution of Aruna Vasudev, who started the FIPRESCI India chapter, was acknowledged. Along with Vasudev, film festival veterans HN Narahari Rao and Sudhir Nandgaonkar were also felicitated for their contribution to film societies and festivals in the country.

Speaking on  the occasion, film critic and festival advise, Premendra Mazumder called Vasudev, “one of the living legends of Indian cinema,” and spoke about how she brought FIPRESCI to India and made Asian cinema popular across the world. In addition, she founded the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC), Cinemaya, the Asian film quarterly, and Cinemaya, the film festival. “Asian cinema is obliged to Aruna for taking it to the world,” he said.

Rao, who had presented a lecture on the 125 years of the evolution of cinema at the festival earlier, recalled the old days when he started Suchitra Film Society and the struggles with creating a film audience. He also spoke about the importance of film critics in taking films to a larger audience. “Film critics are essential to explain the films,” he said. Artistic director of BIFFES, Vidyashankar, praised Rao, saying, “The entire Bangalore film culture for art house cinema is indebted to him.”

Film critic Nadgaonkar started many film festivals, including MAMI and the Third Eye Asian Film Festival. On the occasion, he began by saying, “I was inspired to start the Asian Film Festival in Mumbai by watching Arunaji.” He highlighted the ways in which Vasudev had helped him along the way. “Creating an aware audience for good cinema is the job of a film society. Creating a film culture is the job of film festivals,” he said, recalling some fond moments from organizing MAMI.

At the end, expressing her joy at being felicitated, Vasudev said, “Cinema is the most potent medium that introduces us to worlds you do not know. I lost my heart to cinema and since then I have been devoted to cinema.” She spoke about her career and the different ways in which she engaged with the medium, making documentary films, writing about them and organising film festivals to introduce more and more people to cinema.

It was a session filled with nostalgia, as current FIPRESCI members paid tribute to the founders, who created the solid foundation for a robust film festival culture. It has enabled them to propagate different cinemas and bring them to a wider audience.

Related topics

Bengaluru International Film Festival Third Eye Asian Film Festival