23 Feb 2024  |   05:29am IST

A one of a kind festival in Goa

The Goa Open Arts Festival provides a platform for Goa’s artists to showcase their talent and to interact with people from across the world
A one of a kind festival in Goa

Team Café

The second edition of the Goa Open Arts Festival will be held from February 23-28 at the Maquinez Palace in Panjim. It will celebrate home-grown talent across the visual arts, music, spoken word, performance and films. This festival will showcase the talent of established figures like Pradeep Naik, Swapnesh Vaigankar, Rajendra A Mardolkar and many more emerging artists. The event is free for all.

 The State is a melting pot and fosters a community where artists address local issues and create dialogues. Goa Open Arts has supported and exhibited over 100 local artists, emphasising narratives that delve into crucial themes such as quality education, gender equality, and climate action, aligning with UN sustainable development goals.  Goa Open Arts is driven by a message of ‘openness’ and ‘accessibility’, and provides opportunities for lesser known and new artists to showcase their work on a serious platform. Through the open call format, Goa Open Arts is able to discover new and diverse artists from across the state of Goa, and highlight their work through exhibitions. 

 This year for the first time, a cinematic extravaganza awaits visitors with a brand new film screening section. The red carpet will be laid out for globally recognized and award-winning films, filmmaker interactions, and an exclusive film masterclass that is set to steal the spotlight. Anjum Rajabali will conduct a screenwriting masterclass. The festival has tied up with Whistling Woods International to present an exclusive screenwriting masterclass with the legendary screenwriter. One can craft their cinematic dreams with insights from the mind behind films like ‘Drohkaal’, ‘Ghulam’, and ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’. Anjum will immerse the aspiring filmmaker community in a 3-day screenwriting masterclass, offering a compact, intensive grounding in the craft with inspiring references and invaluable lessons. The film festival will feature several gems. The selection includes the edge-of-the-seat thriller, ‘Stolen’ by debutante filmmaker Karan Tejpal, India’s sole representation at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Experience the supernatural Konkani thriller ‘Aiz Maka Falea Tuka’ by director Sreejith Karanavar and writer Akshay Singh, alongside the charming coming-of-age film, ‘Ready Steady’ by Safdar Rahman, providing a unique perspective on educational systems in New Delhi. The selection is curated in collaboration with film critic Sachin Chatte.

 Sitara Chowfla who is part of the organising committee who was involved in the curation and artist selection said, “The idea was to bring together different kinds of artists on to a single platform and allow new artists to be discovered. This art festival is the second festival. We have been having exhibitions for four years. We have an open call and any artists could come. In fact, 90 percent were selected in this manner and yes of course, there were a few, we were talking to. We have four curators who helped in the selection of the cinema section and other sections. The Goa Artist Collective curated the section on ceramics.”

 This year, five projects will be unveiled. It will be born from collaborations with youth and community, showcasing the richness of creative partnerships. For three years, the Engage Art Project by Goa Open Arts has supported artists working within Goa’s diverse communities. The festival will feature the culmination of this initiative, including the Aldona Community Collaborative’s ‘Tree of Life’ – a mural project created collectively with local children. Imagined through workshops spanning six months, the mural captures the essence of Goa’s vivid flora, fauna, and local sights. Highlighting the transformative ‘UnSchool’ program from 2022, a documentary film explores educators, Rashmi Baruah and Hafsa Bukhary’s journey engaging underprivileged children from Parra and Nagoa villages in art education programmes, fostering self-expression and learning. 

In 2023, Goa Open Arts awarded the Engage Grant to Johanna Rodrigues (‘BgirlJo’), a breakdancer empowering young women and youth across Goa through dance-based workshops that promote body positivity and self-confidence. The festival will also showcase ‘My Inner Self,’ an animated film by talented Russian-speaking children in Goa, delving into the profound theme of the inner self. Executed entirely by the children during dedicated workshops facilitated by the Button Animation Studio, the film offers unique reflections and personal opinions. Lastly, filmmaker Safdar Rahman presents ‘Ready Steady,’ a high school drama offering an unfiltered account of ten teenagers from low-income backgrounds navigating elite education in Delhi, providing a poignant glimpse into their lives.

 The festival will reverberate with the soul-stirring beats of original music, featuring a stellar line-up of ten diverse musical acts spanning singer-songwriters, rock musicians, electronic maestros, and a captivating Sufi-inspired performance. Curated by Aviv Pereira, the festival’s music stage boasts an eclectic mix of talent, each act carefully selected to represent the multifaceted spectrum of musical expression. Among the spotlight performers are: all based in goa. All original music, have a broad genre of music and is immersed in all kinds of music. Aviv said, “These artists do covers and originals. Some of the artists have been waiting for a while to put the original stuff out. The bands that are selected are very unlike each other”. 

 One can listen to the Suraj Jagan Quintet headed by Suraj Jagan, a versatile Indian playback singer, renowned for his powerful vocals and diverse musical contributions, creating memorable melodies across Bollywood and independent music. There is Merak which started off in 2019. Siblings Brandon and Belinda Mendes from Calvim, Aldona formed Merak, an alternative indie electronica act that infuses rock, pop, jazz and cinematic soundscapes into a dreamy, groovy sound. Between them, they play the guitar, keys, violin and vocals and often share philosophies of individuality, freedom and nature through their song writing. The Elvis Lobo Trio with a fusion of blues, rock, and soul, promises a high-energy performance that will have the audience on their feet. The man Rolling Stone India called the most promising indie artist, Kristian Bent will be performing. He’s old fashioned with just enough of the modern world to keep it fresh, and the music reflects the same. Finally there is Jenn Steeves. Jenn brings her intimate electro-acoustic set to the festival, featuring songs from her recent EP ‘Sidelines’, which explores the idea of moving beyond the lines we draw around ourselves, revealing sides we don’t always show.

 The Goa Open Arts Festival, known for celebrating the arts in all its forms, takes pride in nurturing the original music culture in Goa. With a plethora of small music venues, Goa has become a hotbed for emerging artists exploring niche genres and styles. The festival serves as a melting pot for this creativity, providing a platform for musicians to showcase their original compositions to a diverse and appreciative audience.

 In a convergence of artistic expression, innovation, and charitable endeavours, the Goa Open Arts Festival will introduce an extraordinary collaboration featuring acclaimed Goan artists Subodh Kerkar and Pradeep Naik, alongside IFB – a key partner of the impending festival. This pioneering initiative revolves around the metamorphosis of generously donated machines by IFB into captivating works of art, set to be showcased and auctioned online. All proceeds from this distinctive art auction will be directed towards supporting The Owl House, a commendable charitable organization based in Goa, dedicated to empowering individuals from neurodivergent backgrounds.


Iddhar Udhar