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    Theme-based competitions, 20-minute films and animation at the second edition of CISFF

    SRINIVASA Santhanam can tell you a few interesting things about short filmmakers. The festival director of the second edition of the Chennai International Short Film Festival, from February 16 to 22, observes that most directors in this segment are young filmmakers, below 25 years. ‘‘And more than 25-30 per cent of them have an IT background. They say they are tired of sitting in front of computers, doing a 10-12 hour job for over four years. They want a medium to showcase their creative ideas,’’he says, adding that this time, they are also seeing entries from doctors.With 800 plus entries from over 25 countries, this edition is expected to be bigger and better. The festival at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture sees three categories—short fiction, documentary and animation. Most of the movies are only 20 minutes long, and will be judged by a panel comprising editor B Lenin, director Robert Asirvadham (of Palaivana Solai fame) and poetess, Illampirai.
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    At the festival, look out for unique categories like Emotional Tamilan.  “The idea came up when S Kannan (president of CISFF) and I visited the Cannes Film Festival last year. We were at the festival’s short film booth and decided that we had to include a special section for Tamilians at our event.” Another section, Centenary of Turkish Cinema, was the result of interactions at Festival on Wheels in Turkey. ‘‘They recently celebrated 100 years of cinema and deserve a special section,” says Santhanam. Internationally-acclaimed short films from Germany and Netherlands are also showcased. And given its popularity last year, Santhanam has included the animation category too. “Ecole Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques (ESMA) is an organisation in France that trains talented youngsters in the field of animation. In India, we hardly have animators. By watching films by ESMA, youngsters can understand the nuances of animation and learn the art of making good animation films,” he says, adding that they have brought down films from The Hrant Dink Foundation, Turkey, as well. As for the subjects that the movies cover, Santhanam says they are current. “What it’s like to be HIV positive, to be an imprisoned woman trying to survive violence, to be homosexual in the current world, to be forced to go to war, to be hunger struck in a big city… these themes are explored.”
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    Meanwhile, Chennai-based short filmmakers are buzzing with excitement. Director of Tamizha Pesu Thamizhil Pesu, Subha Shree says her film is about people who look down upon youngsters who speak in Tamil. “I like the ongoing trend of short films being made into feature films. Pizza will always be one of the best examples. The only trouble is getting a producer. The reach is better,” she explains.  On the other hand, director of 18 Sticks, Mani Maran, disagrees over the easy adaptability of shorts to feature films. “I would not want to confuse the two mediums. Short is different, while the components required for a full length film are different,” he says. Another participant, Rafeeq Fazlur Rahman, points out that this isn’t a new trend.  “A lot of directors like Balu Mahendra have done this before. His Uthiri Pookkal was a short,” he says. Rahman’s Amma Kadalamma, a story about the struggles of fishermen, wil be shown at the festival.
    At the Russian Centre of Science and Culture, from February 16 to 22. On weekdays, the festival is between 4 pm and 8.30 pm and on weekends, it is from 11 am to 8.30 pm. Details: 24326242
    Mrinalini Sundar

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