IFFI 2023: 'Endless Borders' wins Golden Peacock; 'Kantara' bags Special Jury Award

The Persian movie 'Endless Border' and Kantara.

Panaji: The Persian film ‘Endless Borders’ by Abbas Amini has bagged the Golden Peacock for Best Film at the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) which concluded here on Tuesday.  

An emotionally charged narrative set against the backdrop of an Iranian teacher's odyssey amid the turmoil ignited by the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the film intricately delves into the complexities of prejudice, moral dilemmas, and forbidden love. 

The jury praised the film's ability to transcend physical and emotional borders, lauding director Abbas Amini's courageous storytelling.

In a citation, the jury said, “The film is about how complicated physical borders might be yet nothing can be more complicated than the emotional and moral borders that you impose upon yourself. Film festivals, after all, are about crossing borders and in the case of this film, the director has crossed political borders at the cost of his freedom.”

Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev won the Silver Peacock for Best Director for ‘Blaga’s Lessons’, Pouria Rahimi Sam was honoured with Silver Peacock for Best Actor (male) for his nuanced acting in ‘Endless Borders’, while Melanie Thierry was awarded Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Female) for her seamless expression of a wide spectrum of emotions in ‘Party of Fools’. 

Indian filmmaker Rishab Shetty bagged the Special Jury Award for ‘Kantara’, while Reger Azad Kaya received the Best Director Award for Debut Feature Film for ‘When the Seedlings Grow’. 

Acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, the Jury Chairperson, said that every film was taken seriously while judging them for the coveted awards. 

"It is so difficult to make a film. You have a script, nobody wants to listen to your script... then you get someone to listen to your script... then we say where the money is going to come from, then you find money and work for years trying to get a film made. So every film deserves all the attention," Kapur said, highlighting how important it is to take every film seriously. 

"Why is the film festival important? In the context of what is happening in the world right now... It is very important to tell our stories because our stories are who we are... and if you tell our stories to people and they listen to our stories across borders, then people will understand each other. Films ultimately tell who you are, what your culture is," he said, adding that one needs to find human beings in every story and share the stories through platforms like IFFI. 

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the response to IFFI has been overwhelming, with thousands of delegates participating in it. 

“With the lush green forests, rivers and waterfalls, Goa is a filmmaker's paradise. When it comes to film locations, we have got a streamlined system for film shootings and hassle-free permits,” he said.

 Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award
Acclaimed Hollywood actor-producer Michael Douglas was conferred with the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award during the closing ceremony.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Michael Douglas’s wife and award-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones were present on the occasion, among others.

After receiving the award, Douglas termed Satyajit Ray as a world-class filmmaker.

“Cinema is one of the few mediums that have the power to unite and transform us. Today, the global language of cinema is more meaningful than ever. IFFI is a reminder of the magic of filmmaking and cross-cultural artistic expressions, transcending time, language and geographies,” he said.

In his distinguished career spanning over six decades, Douglas has been nominated for two Oscars and won both of them -- as producer of the Best Picture winner 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975), and as Best Actor for 'Wall Street' (1988).

Douglas also expressed his admiration for Indian cinema, saying 'RRR', 'Om Shanti Om' and 'The Lunchbox' are among his favourite Indian films.

Highlighting the role of movies in uniting the world, Douglas said that films share the same language and bring us closer together. 

“The audience from all around the world can understand what is going on in movies. Movies create this international connection. This is the magic, beauty and joy of this industry and that’s why I love this business very much,” he said.

He also said that it is a tremendous honour to receive the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award in Goa.

In a recollection of his college days, he candidly shared that he had studied the works of Satyajit Ray like 'Pather Panchali' and 'Charulata' in his film course and getting an award named after him is truly special.

“Ray’s pictures were so interesting... they portrayed reality. The greatness of Ray is that he was not only a director, but also a writer, film editor, musician, and all at the same time,” he reminisced.

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