Salim Khan, films Ea.Ma.Yau, Donbass honoured at the closing ceremony

The closing ceremony of the 49th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was a more staid affair as the festival’s big honours were finally handed out.

The event had reduced ‘star’ power than the opening when filmmaker Karan Johar, actor Akshay Kumar and singer Arijit Singh stopped by.

The hosts for the closing ceremony were actor Arjan Bajwa and actress-singer Sophie Choudry. Celebrities like Rakul Preet Singh, Diana Penty and Kabir Bedi walked the red carpet.

Arbaaz Khan arrived with his rumoured Italian girlfriend, Giorgia Andriani. Veteran scriptwriter Salim Khan was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award this evening and Arbaaz Khan picked up the award in his father’s stead.

The IFFI jury members were felicitated by actor Anil Kapoor and, later, Goa minister Vijai Sardesai invited local filmmakers to make more films in the state. He also sought to make Goa Asia’s Cannes, a permanent destination for film lovers, and promised to make amends for the next edition.

Kabir Bedi introduced the Lifetime Achievement award to Salim Khan who initially arrived in Mumbai wanting to be an actor. He was told by a producer that he would have to struggle for three years before making it.

“Films may be an audiovisual medium, but it all begins with the written word. Great stories are written by great writers; iconic dialogues by iconic writers become part of our daily lives,” Bedi stated.

Bedi, Goa governor Mridula Sinha, Union minister of state for tourism KJ Alphons and Sardesai presented Arbaaz Khan with the grand honour and a cheque for Rs10 lakh. Salim Khan co-wrote the cult classics Sholay (1975) and Deewaar (1975), along with other hits like Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Zanjeer (1973), and Don (1978), with writer-poet Javed Akhtar.

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“It’s a proud moment for the Khan family,” Arbaaz Khan said as he thanked the personalities and the audience gathered at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium.

Arbaaz Khan read out a message from Salim Khan which said: I dedicate this award to Indore, my birthplace, and to Mumbai, my workplace, and the film industry, which has given me everything. I would also like to thank Mr Javed Akhtar without whose contribution this would not have been possible.

Director Praveen Morchhale accepted the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi medal for his Ladakhi film, Walking With The Wind (2017). “I’m very thankful for the village in Ladakh whose people are beautiful in their hearts and are always smiling. This is for you,” Morchhale proclaimed.

French film Los Silencios (2018), which was also nominated, received a special mention for the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi medal. Director Beatriz Seigner was present with her young son to accept the honour.

The Centenary award for Best Debut Film of a Director was awarded to Alberto Monteras II for his Filipino feature Respeto (2018). Milko Lazarov’s Aga (2018) won the Special Jury award. Other films Volcano and To Let received special mentions.

The Silver Peacock award for Best Actor (Female) was awarded to Anastasiia Pustovit for the Ukrainian film, When The Trees Fall (2018). The overjoyed actress sent in a video message to the stadium. The Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Male) went to Indian actor Chemban Vinod for the Malayalam film, Ea.Ma.Yau (2018).

Ea.Ma.Yau’s director Lijo Jose Pellissery won the Silver Peacock for Best Director while the Golden Peacock for Best Film was awarded to the Ukrainian film Donbass (2018), directed by Sergei Loznitsa. Donbass is the Ukraine’s official entry for the foreign language Oscar next year.

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The closing ceremony ended surprisingly early with a video message from Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore who couldn’t be there in person. The next edition in 2019 will be the golden jubilee of the festival.

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