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Indian Film Festival of Melbourne rescheduled to October amid COVID-19 pandemic


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MELBOURNE: The Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) has announced that the 2020 edition has been pushed ahead, with dates rescheduled from August to October due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

IFFM 2020's program will be devised in line with public health guidance, with plans for a compact schedule taking place over a week from October 30 to November 7. "The festival is retaining the Short Film Competition and the popular dance competition (to be held on October 31, pending easing of restrictions) but the much anticipated IFFM Awards Gala will be postponed till 2021," the organisers said in a statement.

This month, the festival is starting a new event, the IFFM Film Club, featuring some of the leading filmmakers in India discussing their work. Functioning like a book club, the festival will ask participants to watch a classic film, and then have an opportunity to discuss the film at the virtual film club with the filmmaker.

IFFM Festival Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange said this is an attempt for film lovers to stay "engaged, entertained and educated" while at home in these unprecedented times. "We already have a strong lineup of filmmakers from various parts of India. Well-known film journalist Rajeev Masand will moderate the session as he opens the film and its maker to a world of questions from curious fans," he said.

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, praised IFFM team for their efforts. "Social distancing doesn't mean social disconnection and through the screen we can continue to be inspired by stories and perspectives from across the globe.

I applaud the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne team for its commitment to continuing to bring the IFFM spirit to film lovers and for pivoting to a new model for 2020 in response to these challenging times," he said.

In its previous editions, the festival has hosted masterclasses with acclaimed filmmakers including Rajkumar Hirani, Karan Johar, Rima Das, Zoya Akhtar, Onir, Kabir Khan among others.

Earlier this year, IFFM hosted an event where superstar Shah Rukh Khan awarded the four-year scholarship named after him to Gopika Kottantharayil Bhasi from Thrissur (Kerala), as a part of the festival's long association with Melbourne's La Trobe University.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)