Each festival begins with plenty of promise, with plenty of films and interactions to consume over its duration. Festival opens with British film ‘Catching Dust’ Madhuri Dixit honored with ‘Special Recognition for Contribution to Bharatiya Cinema’ Sops on foreign film production stands at 40 per cent of expenses incurred PANAJI: A film festival is a shrine of worship for the lover of cinema. It’s where you go to purge bad viewing habits you may have developed solely from experiencing only mainstream cinema. So, what pleasure then to see the who’s who of the world of politics and cinema come together to formally declare open a film festival—more specifically, the 54th iteration of IFFI (the International Film Festival of India), Goa. Each festival begins with plenty of promise, with plenty of films and interactions to consume over its duration. It’s no different this time around, with the festival choosing from as many as 2,926 film submissions from 105 countries. Festival patrons will get to choose from a mouthwatering selection of 270 films, of which 89 of them will be Indian premieres. Further, in recognition of growing influence of OTT content, for the first time, there will be a Best Web Series award given as well, along with cash prize of `10 lakh. The opening ceremony held at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium saw plenty of song and dance, from the likes of Nushrratt Bharuccha and Shriya Saran, but the big moments came in between when first, the Chief Minister of Goa, Dr. Pramod Sawant, addressed the gathering, and then, later, the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, joined in. Dr Pramod Sawant spoke of cinema being a beautiful language that transcended boundaries and got a round of applause when he spoke about a proposed film city in the State, emphasising the involvement of the Entertainment Society of Goa. Minister Anurag Thakur had some big announcements to make too, and he warmed up by pointing out the achievement of the Chandrayaan mission. In a speech littered with film anecdotes, he drew loud cheers when sharing that the government, in a bid to attract foreign production houses to shoot in India, would be increasing the incentive to a waiver of up to 40 percent of the costs incurred when shooting here. “They can further avail an additional 5 percent waiver if what they are making is deemed to be significant Indian content,” he added. Amid the presence of many film personalities, Minister Anurag added that this year’s Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award would be given to Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, who’s expected to join the festival towards its end. It was a night that saw many congratulations, many nods to achievements. Awareness, for instance, was spread about the National Film Heritage Mission, as part of which iconic classics like Bees Saal Baad (1962), Haqeeqat (1964), and Guide (1965) are being digitised.