Kolkata, Nov 9 (IANS) An array of diverse Australian films, Cinema by ace Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi and a centenary tribute to legendary Swedish director-producer Ingmar Bergman through the screening of eight of his outstanding movies are the highlights in the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) that kicks off on Saturday.
The eight day long movie extravaganza, considered to be the country's second oldest film fest, also has a plethora of award winning international cinema from countries like the US, Spain, France and Russia on offer for the city film buffs.
The opening ceremony, presided over by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, will set the drums rolling for the festival, featuring 171 feature films, 150 shorts and documentaries from 70 countries.
Bollywood's living legend Amitabh Bachchan will inaugurate the event on Saturday in the presence of West Bengal's brand ambassador and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Majidi and Australian directors Philip Noyce, Simon Baker and Jill Bilcock.
Actors Sanjay Dutt, Jaya Bachchan, Waheeda Rehman and Nandita Das would also be present at the opening ceremony, state youth and sports minister and KIFF chief advisor Aroop Biswas said earlier.
With Australia being the focus country for this edition of the KIFF, screening of twenty six old and new films will take place across the venues. Australian director Philip Noyce, the maker of Angelina Jolie starrer "Salt", is being honoured with a retrospective.
"Antony Firingee", a 1967 Bengali musical drama with Uttam Kumar and Tanuja in the lead, has been chosen as the inaugural film to mark the 100 years of Bengali cinema.
Cinema connoisseurs can enjoy the films in 16 different venues in the city and Howrah district.
Thirteen films are competing for the top prize in the Indian Language section including "Widow Of Silence" by Praveen Morchhale, "Nirmal Enroute" by Rishi Deshpande.
The best film would be given an award of Rs 51 lakh, and the best director Rs 21 lakh, with both receiving a golden trophy christened "Royal Bengal Tiger", the organisers had announced earlier.
Four popular works of Iranian filmmaker Majidi including "Beyond the Clouds", starring new Bollywood sensation Ishaan Khatter will also be screened.
Veteran Bengali actress Supriya Devi, who passed away on January 26, is being remembered with a special screening of her film "Meghe Dhaka Tara" directed by Ritwik Ghatak.
Four films including Shoojit Sircar's "October" (2018) are up for a special screening at the festival.