Shri A.K. Balan, Hon’ble Minister for Culture,

Shri V.S. Sivakumar, Member of Legislative Assembly,

Smt. Rani George IAS, Secretary, Dept of Cultural Affairs,

Shri Kamal, Chairman, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy,

Smt. Bina Paul, Vice Chairperson, Kerala State Chalachitra  Academy,

Shri Mahesh Panju, Executive Director & Secretary, Kerala State Chalachitra Academy,

Members of the film fraternity,

Sahodaree Sahodaranmare,

Ellavarkkum Ente Namaskaram.

It gives me great joy to inaugurate the 12th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, organized by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, for the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala.

Let me at the outset, compliment the Kerala State Chalachitra Academyfor organizing this Festival, which has become very popular all over India. I am informed that this Festival is on the path of gaining the popularity enjoyed by the International Film Festival of Kerala, which attracts delegates from all over the country and even abroad. Ever since its inception in 1998, the Chalachitra Academyhas been actively engaged in popularizing and encouraging good cinema in the State.

Cinema is one of the factors which helped our State to earn a pre-eminent position in the cultural map of India. Malayalam cinema has been a bench mark of quality and creative thinking in our country. It has been a powerful medium for many of our film makers whose works have helped to shape our sensibility and our approach to the expression of ideas. The positive response accorded to the various film festivals including this festival of documentary and short films is the result of such a mature sensibility.

At the same time, the medium of cinema also conjures up images of illusion rather than reality. The popular expression is that Reel life and Real life are different. But, the Documentary films enjoy a credibility, based on their factuality and truthful depiction of events.

As we all know, documentaries exploit Cinema's potential for observing and retelling life in a truthful manner. Documentaries have been praised for the creative treatment of actuality, since many of them deal with life caught unawares.
All over the world, they stand out from the other types of non-fiction films for their bold expressions and socially relevant messages. They influence public opinion and even set the agenda for society on the strength of the facts presented. This   power of the medium has attracted many film makers including young people to express their social commitment through documentaries.

Yet, documentaries had, for a long time, suffered a lack of adequate avenues for screening. Cinema halls were usually reluctant to screen them and obliged only when it was made mandatory.  Many of our documentary makers had to be satisfied with limited reach due to such restrictions.  In spite of this, some of our celebrated film makers including Shri Adoor Gopalakrishnanhad made stellar documentaries that captured with perfection, the greatness of our artistic and cultural wealth. I am happy that one of his short films, produced after a gap of decades, is being screened in this Festival.

But, with the coming of Television and the Internet, there has been a boom in the opportunities for screening. The technology of production has also become easier and cheaper. All these have encouraged many of our young people to experiment with documentary, docu-fiction, short film etc.

However, the problem of plenty also throws up a concern with regard to quality. While cinema attracts our youth towards film making, we need to expose them to the best models in the art of the cinema. I am happy that the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Keralaprovides a platform for the aspiring non-fiction film makers to see and learn the art and craft of cinema from the best productions.

It is through such screenings that aspiring film makers and people in general understand the advances in the medium. A  Festival of this magnitude will also convey to our audiences, the importance of the social responsibility of a film maker. The impressive cash prizes going up to Rupees Two Lakh, are an indication of the true seriousness accorded by the government for the promotion of good cinema.

It is truly commendable that campus films, animation and music videos also find a place in this Festival and that a cash prize of Rs. Fifty Thousand has been instituted for the creative team of the best Campus film. This will ensure that the Festival resonates with the vigor and energy of our youth. And, I hope this energy will also reflect in the intellectual discourses to be held as part of the Festival.

I also hope that our students and young film makers would make the most of this learning experience so that they take up in their films, the burning issues that need social attention. We live in such a time when creation of awareness on matters as basic as the environment and health has become vital. Makers of documentaries should involve more in social campaigns that will help to empower our society with better knowledge. Through such involvement, our young people could develop as some of the best film makers of the future and guardians of the cinema culture of Kerala.

I greet all the delegates who have come from different parts of our country to watch this six day festival of documentaries and short films. I also convey my best wishes to those film makers whose works are competing in this Festival.

Let me conclude by complimenting the Chalachitra Academyfor conducting this function in a befitting manner.

Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal

Nanni /Jai Hind.