IFFK stares at its biggest fund crunch

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chalachitra academy – which always struggled to maintain a balance between budget and actual expenditure while organizing International Film Festival of () – is facing its biggest challenge this year as the revenue from sale of delegate passes and sponsorship has fallen short of expectations.

While the academy had counted on raising Rs 2 crore by selling 10,000 passes, it could only sell 7,500 passes and the target fell short by Rs 50 lakh. Efforts to muster an amount of Rs 2 crore through sponsorship did not work out and academy officials admitted that the amount they raised came to around Rs 60 lakh.

Scrutiny of expenditure statements, minutes of executive committee and general council of the academy over the past two decades – obtained through RTI – showed that IFFK spending increased by nearly 9 times the actual cost incurred during the initial years of IFFK. Over the past three years, IFFK expenditure ranged from Rs 5.4 crore to Rs 6.5 crore.

Every year, the proposed budget of IFFK varied with the actual expenditure despite the academy’s best efforts to prepare a realistic budget. For example, in 2002, the total budget of IFFK was Rs 60 lakh; but the actual expenditure was Rs 76 lakh. This difference forced the academy to seek additional funds.

The executive committee meeting ahead of 9th IFFK in 2004 had set the budget at Rs 129 lakh and since the amount was inadequate, a decision was taken then to request additional funds (Rs 50 lakh) as grant from the state government. The committee had also noted that though plan allocation is given, in practice the government released only 85% of the budget. Thus, expenditure had to be limited to 85% of budget and excess spending had to be met from sponsors.

For 11th IFFK, budgetary allotment was Rs 130 lakh in 2006-07 and of this, the maximum amount that could be utilized was Rs 80 lakh. The executive committee noted that since the expenditure for 9th and 10th editions varied between Rs 135 lakh and Rs 145 lakh, a realistic assessment for 11th IFFK would be Rs 170 lakh. An additional sum of Rs 75 lakh was sanctioned by the government as special grant.

The expenditure of 12th edition was Rs 1.96 crore, an increase of 10% from the actual expenditure of the previous edition. The request for additional grant was Rs 3 crore in 2016 and the government obliged giving Rs 1.2 crore, while the internal budget was Rs 6.4 crore.

IFFK’s expenditure can be categorized under 37 heads. Costly items include film rent, theatre rent, travel, freight charges, hospitality and ceremony expenses. Film rent is around Rs 45-52 lakh/year while theatre rent has shown an upward trend crossing 50 lakh during 17th edition. This year, organizers had to do quite a bit of trimming. Flight tickets were restricted to competition films, curated sections were dropped and lectures and workshops were taken off and even the number of days in hotels for guests were reduced.

The committee took various steps to reduce cost in the past. It engaged volunteers for 11th edition. The request for non-plan fund was placed this year and government gave Rs 63 lakh under this head this year. Organizers are in a fix to arrange the remaining sum.

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