Habitat International Film Festival: A cinematic extravaganza

In its third edition, the Habitat International Film Festival will run till May 15th at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, featuring a line-up of over 60 films from India as well as across the globe

Posters of Irish film 'Calm With Horses', Spanish film Parallel Mothers starring Penélope Cruz, and Iranian film 'A Hero'

Habitat International Film Festival, which returns after a gap of two years, will open on May 6th, 2022 with the South Korean historical drama The Book of Fish, directed by Joon-ik Lee. The film is a part of a special package of contemporary Korean films that will be screened at the festival, marking 10 years of the Korean Cultural Centre, New Delhi.

“Habitat International Film Festival is one of those few events in New Delhi where you can enjoy films from across genres. In particular, this year, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Korean Cultural Centre, we think it is a great honour to be able to screen 5 Korean films at this prestigious film festival. Just as Korean Wave content resonated greatly in India, we hope that, through this event the audiences would be able to appreciate the artistic values of these independent films,” reveals Hwang Il-yong, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre.

Sunit Tandon, Director of India Habitat Centre, is delighted to be back with a fresh edition of the Habitat International Film Festival after a two-year gap. “Over the years, the India Habitat Centre has become synonymous with the best in the arts and culture. During the pandemic, we continued with a series of online activities with some offline events as well. It is really a great relief and pleasure for us to be able to present a new edition of the Habitat International Film Festival after a hiatus of two years,” says Tandon. 

The closing film of the festival is master Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar-nominated drama Parallel Mothers. “The Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain are delighted to be part of the Habitat International Film Festival. Seeing movies together is not the same as watching them in the solitude of our home screens. Spain wants to celebrate this coming together in a grand way by closuring the festival with the latest Almodóvar, Parallel Mothers, a riveting history about the joy of shared motherhood with the superb acting of Penélope Cruz”, rejoices Oscar Pujól, Director, Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi.

A major highlight this year is a diverse selection of films from a plethora of Indian languages. G Prabha’s Sanskrit film Taya, Jaicheng Zxai Dohutia’s Assamese film Jolsobi, P.S. Vinothraj’s Tamil film Koozhangal, Anjali Menon’s Malayalam film Manjadikkuru, Sagar Puranik’s Kannada film Dollu, Anchal Mishra’s Maithili film Dhuin, Rahman Brothers’ Malayalam film Chavittu, Kuldeep Ruhil’s Haryanvi film Cheer Haran, and Nikhil Mahajan’s Marathi film Godavari are amongst the most exciting films of this selection. 

Poster of Sanskrit film ‘Taya’

“We have a small selection of Indian cinema as part of the 2022 Habitat International Film Festival as ours is a limited venue. And this year we hope that we may be able to do a separate festival on the rest of pan-Indian cinema. But since everything is a big question mark these days, so in case, for some reason we cannot do that, we thought of including a small segment along with our international lineup”, reveals Vidyun Singh, Creative Head Programmes, India Habitat Centre. 

Among the most-anticipated films on the festival’s international lineup are: the Finnish film The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See The Titanic, the Iranian film A Hero, the Australian film The Drover’s Wife, the Portuguese film The Metamorphosis of Birds, the Irish film Calm with Horses, and the German film I’m You Man, which was the German entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards. 

Speaking about the film, Johannes Höber, Cultural Counsellor at the German Embassy, explains, “Ever since the release of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in the year 1927, Artificial Intelligence has represented an integral part of German Film Production. Maria Schrader’s award-winning movie I’m Your man takes this topic now to a whole new level by drawing a near-future scenario, in which boundaries between humans and robots are becoming blurred. We are thankful and proud to screen this movie as part of the Habitat International Film Festival.” 

The festival also has two very interesting films from Italy – A Chiara and Bad Tales. Speaking about the films, Dr Andrea Baldi, Director, Italian Cultural Centre, reveals, “After this long difficult time during which we had to suspend all the activities, I am very happy to get the Italian Cultural Centre to participate in the Habitat Centre Film Festival. Cinema has always been one of the main activities since my arrival in India. We restarted last year, programming with a successful retrospective on Fellini. This time, we present two films by young directors, Jonas Carpignano, whose previous film A Ciambra we brought in 2019, and the D’Innocenzo brothers, with their second feature film.” 

Other attractions in the international segment include the French film Two of Us, the Costa Rican film Clara Sola, the South Korean film In the Name of the Son, the Egyptian film Amira, the Turkish film Brother’s Keeper, the Swiss film The Zurich Affair – Wagner’s One and Only Love, the Austrian film Hinterland, and the Swedish film About Endlessness. 

The festival also includes a section of student films from Poland which includes titles such as The Dress, Mother’s Day, and End of the World. The documentaries on offer include Into the Light, The Beatles and India, and Because We are Girls. The short film segment includes shorts like Sabut, Fathima, The Oracle, Then Comes the Evening, Yet Another Winter, Kalsubhai, and The Spell of Purple.

The 2022 Habitat International Film Festival promises to be the biggest cinema extravaganza in the capital since the pandemic. The festival will take place as per the government-mandated guidelines. All the necessary measures are being taken to ensure it is a seamless experience for the visitors while simultaneously ensuring their safety. 

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Murtaza Ali Khan has been a film critic since 2010. He has curated and presented retrospectives and film festivals for various embassies and high commissions in New Delhi. He has also served on the jury for a variety of film festivals. He tweets at @MurtazaCritic