“There is so much potential in Goa” says Ameya Abhyankar, “it is already the leisure capital of India, and can easily become a major global entertainment hub. With the state now officially the permanent host of International Film Festival of India (IFFI), our Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) aims to play a more defining role in the making of this historic and important event.”
Pune-born Abhyankar took over the ESG less than three months ago, but the dynamic IAS officer has already implemented a series of sweeping changes at IFFI: emphasis on new technologies and social media, a co-ordinated effort to provide Goa’s best talent a showcase at the festival, meticulous quality control, and a co-ordinated strategy to re-establish the high standards that once characterized Asia’s oldest film festival (established in 1952) in its picturesque setting on the banks of the Mandovi river in Panjim.
Abhayankar says, “Goa has a vibrant cultural community. It promotes the confluence of minds of people from
so many different fields in both arts and sciences. Over the years it has become a melting point for anyone coming in search of themselves, as they are sure to find someone who believes in the same ideas, and dreams the same dreams. We think that is the same spirit that should animate and permeate this festival, to really reach the potential that was always there in bringing IFFI to Goa.”
IFFI 2015 – the 46th edition of the festival – is intended to take an immense technological leap. Abhyankar says, “we hope to go paperless with all our ticketing system in the following years. If you can get onto a bus or train by providing a code or a digital receipt, you should be able to
get into a theatre without a paper receipt. The film bookings must be a seamless experience for every delegate. This year, we are going to merge different content streams to produce lasting memories. CCTV cameras installed at various locations will recognize a registered delegate’s face in the crowd and capture candid moments. This would then be emailed to them. There will also be a next-generation festival app. We are also working on a Google cloud of a 10TB capacity which will store all kinds of reports and literature in connection with the festival with provision for easy uploads and downloads.”
In conversation with Abhyankar, the word “inclusion” comes up repeatedly. He says, “I think it is extremely important that IFFI should attract every local and visitor, and also provide excellent options to those who do not have delegate passes. The festival took off in Goa with a wholesome approach of catering to everyone, and we aim to revive that flavour. The international food village, the festival mile, exclusive Goa bookshop, kids film pavilion in the Campal playground, and range of public screenings at Azad Maidan are all initiatives to reach out to everyone who wishes to have a taste of IFFI. Via the IFFI app, anyone who wishes to watch a film while sipping some coffee at a stall or sitting by the river front, can do so on their tablets through the free viewing option of select films.”
The Peacock daily newspaper for IFFI is another innovative idea implemented by Abhyankar, who says “we need to have a proper documentation of the festival to be preserved as an archive of what has happened over the years and how the festival has evolved. Currently, there is no such official documentation, and we cannot even work on feedback or evaluations of the previous years. The long-term plan is that when people do an internet search IFFI, their first hit should be The Peacock. It has to be the premier festival guide for every delegate at the venue and casual browser on the net.”