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Get Your Film Take Wings at Virtual Film Bazaar

admin   September 14, 2020

National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar has created a climate in which young filmmakers can dare to attempt transcending geographical boundaries.

As an incubator of new film projects in India and the rest of the subcontinent, the NFDC Film Bazar Goa, now in its 14th year, has rendered yeoman service by engendering an eco-system that allows originality to thrive while not losing sight of tried and tested ground rules that have proven beneficial. This year Film Bazaar will take place in virtual format.

It isn’t surprising, therefore, that many of the subcontinent’s most applauded and well-travelled contemporary films have taken shape – and wings – on this platform that has made mentoring and networking facilities available to them. Think Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, Paobam Paban Kumar’s Loktak Lairembee and Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely and you cannot help but recognise the assistance that these acclaimed Indian films have received at the Film Bazaar where buyers, sellers, festival programmers and producers converge in search of the next lot of support-worthy films.

It isn’t unusual for veteran screenwriters and directors (such as Govind Nihalani and Kamal Swaroop) to turn up in this dynamic marketplace with the intention of exploring co-production possibilities. The Bazaar is numerically dominated by younger filmmakers, a large percentage of them being first-timers.

Film Bazaar Goa is held on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), but it is a hub of activity so intense that it often overshadows the main event. The greatest strength of the Bazaar is the youthful energy that propels it and the range and depth of international participation that the annual event commands. The result is a space where a free exchange of ideas and synergies take place and yields salutary results.

Filmmakers from across the subcontinent have benefitted immensely from the time and energy they have spent in Goa in reaching out to the world and pushing their ideas, films and screenplays. A majority of Indian films that have played in the leading international festivals – The Lunchbox, Miss Lovely, Titli, Chauthi Koot, Thithi, Killa and Ship of Theseus, to name only a few – have participated in Film Bazaar at crucial stages of their development.

Assamese director Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis (Ravening) was part of the Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market in 2017. It returned to the Viewing Room – Film Bazaar Recommends in 2018 and went on to screen in the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019. Geetu Mohandas’ Moothon (The Elder One), which had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, opened in Indian multiplexes in the second week of November.

The film had started its journey in Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market in 2016 (the title back then was Insha’allah). Moothon was in the Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab the very next year alongside several other Indian films that got picked by international festivals – Ere Gowda’s Balekempa, Dominic Sangma’s Garo-language Ma’Ama and Ivan Ayr’s Soni.

Geetu Mohandas, an actress-turned-filmmaker also owes the rise of her debut film, Liar’s Dice, to Film Bazaar. The film was in the Co-Production Market in 2011. It premiered in the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival in 2013 before being screened in the Sundance Film Festival and 2014. Liar’s Dice was India’s official nomination that year for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar.

Besides a host of films that have come out of the country’s many filmmaking centres, projects conceived and developed in Mumbai have enjoyed a lion’s share of the spoils in Film Bazaar. The most notable among them is The Lunchbox. After its world premiere in Cannes Critics’ Week in 2013, it travelled to TIFF and Karlovy Vary.

The Lunchbox was distributed in more 50 countries – a record for an independent Indian film. Interestingly, the Film Bazaar has over the past decade and a bit mentored films that have subsequently taken on commercial trappings and gone on a different tangent. Sharat Katariya’s Dum Laga Ke Haisha, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar, which came to Goa as a work in progress, went mainstream with Yash Raj Films throwing its weight behind the film.

Films such as Shanghai and Nil BatteySannat, among others, have found similar theatrical outlets. In the case of Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, Prakash Jha Productions was involved from the very outset. It was part of Film Bazaar’s WIP Lab in 2015. Completed in 2016
and released in 2017 after a protracted run-in with the censors, the film earned critical accolades and substantial commercial success.

Gitanjali Rao’s animation film Bombay Rose has had the longest gestation of all the titles that have emerged from the Film Bazaar. It was in the Screenwriters’ Lab in 2015, the Co-Production Market in 2016 and the WIP Lab in 2017. In 2019, it premiered at the 76th Venice Film Festival and then travelled to TIFF, Busan International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. It is now scheduled to screen in the Doha Film Institute’s Ajyal Film Festival and Marrakesh International Film Festival.

Not every film that participates in the Film Bazaar soars into the stratosphere. In fact, a chunk of the entries that have been listed on the Viewing Room roster run into dead-ends. But that does not diminish the significance of the exercise. Over the last decade, almost every film that is regarded as fine specimen of Indian indie cinema – among them Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry, Rahi Anil Barve’s Tumbbad, KanuBehl’s Titli, Shanker Raman’s Gurgaon, Pushpendra Singh’s Ashwatthama, Amit V Masurkar’s Newton, Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle, Dipesh Jain’s In the Shadows and RidhamJanve’s The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain – is a Film Bazaar product. The event helps these filmmakers not only to evolve into outstanding films but also to find a place on the radar of the spotters that are sent out by major festivals.

In a nation that produces more films than any other in the world, Film Bazaar has created a climate in which young filmmakers can dare to attempt transcending geographical boundaries. The Mumbai movie industry in particular is notoriously insular and cannot see beyond box office collections. But filmmakers working outside the pale of the mainstream are compelled to think of the wider world – the Film Bazaar fulfils that needs admirably, helping independent filmmakers engage with the world on an equal footing.

One of the biggest contributions of the Film Bazaar is manifested in the support it has extended to filmmakers from other countries of the subcontinent. Bangladesh’s Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, Rubaiyat Hossain and Golam Rabbany Biplob, Sri Lanka’s Prasanna Vithanage and Prasanna Jayakody, Pakistan’s Mehreen Jabbar and Sabiha Sumar, Nepal’s Deepak Rauniyar, Bhutan’s Khyentse Norbu and Afghanistan’s Siddiq Barmak have been part of the Film Bazaar over the years.

No wonder, for indie filmmakers in this part of the world, all roads lead to Goa come November.

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Make at least Ten co-productions in a year

admin   September 14, 2020

Stating that filming in India has now become easy, TCA Kalyani, Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and MD, National Film Development Corporation, said Webseries and Television Series will also be included in the incentive package for co-production and film shooting.

Indian producers and filmmakers should work towards producing at least ten Co-Productions each year, stated TCA Kalyani, Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and MD, National Film Development Corporation. She said this while participating in a webinar session for the formal inaugural of the India’s participation
at Toronto International Film Festival.

India’s virtual participation at TIFF is organised by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry. India at Toronto 2020 activities include interactive discussions on filming, co-production, media services among others. Business to Business meetings and pitch sessions are also planned during TIFF.

In her opening address to delegates on the India-Canada opportunities in the filmed entertainment space, Kalyani underlined that the new rules of procedures that have finally been made by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will incentivize co-production, filming in India and go a long way in further strengthening Co-Production opportunities.

“Webseries and Television Series will also be included in the incentive package for co-production and film shooting,” stated Kalyani. The AVGC (Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics) Sector will also be part of the incentives provided under the Champion Sector for audio visual industry.

The lively, interactive panel discussion elicited number of participant questions. The participants in the panel included Kalyani, Apoorva Srivastava, India’s Consul General in Toronto, Rahul Rawail, film director and producer, Roger Nair, film producer from Toronto and Neerja Bhattia, Executive Director, CII.

The spotlight on India at Toronto will showcase Film in India, promote International Film Festival of India, India as a post-production hub, promote collaborations for films with international production houses and encourage Indian Panorama Films for sales and syndication .

The objective behind the participation is to promote Indian films across linguistic cultural and regional diversity so as to forge an increasing number of international partnerships in the realms of distribution, production, filming in India, script development and technology, thereby accelerating the growth of film sector in India.

India has its advantage at every filmmaking process. It has a strong domestic film industry across the country. More than anything else, India has access to world class technicians and equipment; amazing choice of locations to shoot any type of film. Skilled professionals are available across the country. India is gearing up for the 51st edition of International Film Festival Of India, Goa from 20 to 28 November 2020 (hybrid format).

The market potential for Indian content in Toronto is huge because of the strong presence of the Indian diaspora and great interest in Indian Cinema. India-Canada are in a co-production treaty and the delegation will explore opportunities to work on co-producing films with Canada.

India through various interactions, will promote ease of shooting films in India through Film Facilitation Office (FFO) that facilitates Single Window Clearance for film-makers and provides the platform for ‘film tourism’ in India.

In his address, Rahul Rawail said, “With India soon to offer financial incentives for co-production and filming under the champion sector, whole landscape of entertainment business is set to change. It will bring more and more co-production opportunities for India and global producers.”

Roger Nair said, “We have been in the business for 25 years. We see bright times ahead for India-Canada business collaboration. We have shot films without the co-production treaty- about 14 films with India now. So, we are very open to working with Indian producers and filmmakers in the new incentive programme.”

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Filmmakers Should Make use of India-Canada Treaty

admin   September 14, 2020

India and Canada have huge opportunities in the entertainment sector and the audio visual co-production treaty can lead to positive changes, says Apporva Srivastava, India’s Consul General in Toronto

India’s Consul General in Toronto Apporva Srivastava has urged filmmakers to make use of India-Canada audio visual co-production treaty.

She said this while speaking about India-Canada opportunities in the filmed entertainment space during the webinar session for the formal inaugural of the India’s participation at Toronto International Film Festival.

India’s virtual participation at TIFF is organised by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry.

Stating that India and Canada are natural partners “because we share a truly unique relationship,” Srivastava added: “We are both vibrant democracies. We are wedded to rule of law, we share Commonwealth traditions, we have similar parliamentary model and we speak the same language. In today’s world, Canada and India are two multicultural societies which truly value and cherish diversity.”

“We are bound together by strong people to people ties, we have more than 1.6 million strong Indian Diaspora, 700,000 Indian citizens live and work here 250,000 Indian students in Canada. India is now the source of largest source of migrants and international students in Canada. These factors make Indian movies a great draw in Canada.”

According to the diplomat, we need to work with Toronto International Film Festival with a huge Indian participation next year to celebrate 75 years of Indian independence.

“Fortunately, we have Mr. Cameron Bailey, TIFF Co-Director who’s a great friend of India and he is passionate about Indian cinema. Indian films have been a regular feature at TIFF,” she said.

She also called for interactions between Indian and Canadian screenplay writers, directors, producers so that they can take advantage of the India-Canada Co-Production Treaty.

“We need to create awareness about shooting locales in both India and Canada with each other,” she said.

Is Man no More at Home on Earth? Is Cinema no More at Home in Theatres?

admin   June 22, 2020

Is Mother Earth chastising Man for the harm Man has inflicted upon Her in his short-sighted ungrateful exploitation of Her generous resources?

We were not allowed to go out. From my window, I saw animals, many birds and insects: they had the right to be outside in the open air. It filled me with a strange feeling, as if Mother Earth was repudiating us: “Get inside, you’ve done too much wrong, I don’t want to see you anymore!”

We were being chased from all places, streets, cafés, markets, theatres, and from our cherished Cannes Film Festival, while cats, birds, cows were and still are at home in the streets and free to walk on the carpets of the world, be they red or not.

Is Man no more at home on Earth?

In India’s wonderful Vedic tradition, we learn that at a time the whole world became perturbed due to nefarious activities, the predominating deity of the Earth, known as Bhumi, went to see Lord Brahma to tell of her calamities. Bhumi assumed the shape of a cow and presented herself before Lord Brahma with tears in her eyes. She was bereaved and was weeping, relating the calamitous position of the Earth.

The bull is the emblem of Dharma, the moral principle, and the cow is the representative of the Earth. Nowadays, the cow is being slaughtered and the bull is only standing on one leg as the threefourths of humanity have evacuated the Sacred from their lives.

We are at a time when both thinkers and scientists are questioning our modern materialistic model, at a time when the film industry has to freeze and a Thierry Frémaux, the Big-Screen bard, go digital. Is it not also time for Indian Studios and Independents to clear a corridor to uplifting films? Films that could possibly draw their narrative from India’s invaluable and under-explored homegrown richness, the Mahabharata Franchise, the Bhagavata-purana Franchise, the Ramayana Franchise, all available, all IP free and all courtesy of Vyasadeva and Valmiki.

Inspiration for stories with spiritual content is everywhere, but nowhere more than from within the cradle of spirituality – India, with her rich oral and written tradition. It is time for Indian-crafted films to show the world the beauty of India’s culture, rather than follow Western films down the same old beaten track of portraying an “Indian genre” associated only with misery and social conflict as their main topics.

Unfortunately, those of the new generation filmmakers who are more apt in the handling of a Universal Cinema Language, have been Westernized to think that shabby hardship is the only theme that will take them to international festivals. Historically, great tragedies such as the current pandemic have often brought about significant changes. This crisis offers us the opportunity for a change of consciousness towards what images and narratives we are feeding audiences with.

Audiences must have their say in the kind of films they want the industry to offer. We just have seen how, in a few days, a strong public will is capable of completely changing our way of life. Despite the shortterm economic imperatives”, despite our habits and at the cost of our comfort. Making the collective choice to demand less gratuitous mind-polluting images, less vacuity, more beauty, subtlety and inspiration dressing up our screens would be a much less arduous change than the one we are currently undergoing.

Will we all be, filmmakers and film consumers, up to the challenges?

Bhagavad-Gita tells us the soul can never be cut nor burnt. Have we experienced the soul cannot be locked down either, free to express craving for uplifting content?

Pierre Assouline, a producer in France and India with Selections and Awards including Competition in Venice, Competition and Jury Award in Locarno, Competition in India, Pierre Assouline currently works at establishing “The Uplifting Cinema Project”, a production slate of the world.

He can be reached at pierre@theupliftingcinemaproject.com

Building Brand Telangana Through Cinema

admin   May 6, 2018

Under the dynamic and visionary Chief Minister K Chandra Sekhar Rao, Telangana is leaving no stone unturned to make the State a popular film making destination of the world, here are the excerpts from an interview with B. Venkatesham, Tourism Secretary, Government of Telangana

The state of Telangana has some of the most beautiful film shooting locations. Tell us how film-friendly is the state for domestic and global filmmakers?
Telangana state is a place of rich heritage and historically Hyderabad state was ruled by Kakatiyas, Qutub Shahis and Nijam dynasties. Hyderabad city has more than 1,000 years of continuous living history ranging from the walled city of Old Hyderabad to Modern Hyderabad. There are Faluknama Palace, Golconda Fort, Charminar and Qutub Shahi tombs along with beautiful valleys and waterfalls spread across the state.
Many eminent filmmakers have on record highlighted the immense help they have been extended by the Telangana Government and its people while they shot their movies. The fact is that filmmaking is one of the most strenuous activities requiring a secure environment for filmmakers. We have always striven to ensure that and will continue to do so.

What steps are being taken by the government to bring global filmmakers and production houses to the film locales in the state?
A new government has been formed in Telangana State headed by the dynamic and visionary Chief Minister K Chandra Sekhar Rao. Under his leadership, Telangana Tourism and a dedicated nodal agency, Telangana State Film Development Corporation, have been formed for facilitating film shootings in the state. These agencies are working on various film-friendly policies in order to bring global and Indian film makers to discover the beauty of Indian stories, locations, art, culture and heritage.

What according to you are the advantages of getting a film shot in Telangana? What’s the infrastructure available for filmmakers here?
Hyderabad is a world-class film production centre offering award winning talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Leading edge post-production work, animation and special effect capabilities, stunning film making locations, state-of-the-art studio facilities along with comprehensive support services that deliver a seamless production experience from start to finish are available. The best example is the world renowned Ramoji Film City. It is acclaimed internationally and serves hundreds of films every year.

Does the state government offer sops like accommodation for crew to filmmakers during a film shooting?
Hyderabad is well connected with the rest of the world by an international airport and all the tourist destinations are well connected by rails and roads. The Telangana Tourism department also runs a hotel chain called Haritha Hotels. Their presence is spread across the state and located almost in all the tourist places. These hotels have qualified personnel and star facilities, providing accommodation, catering food and other amenities. Haritha Hotels has a website with all the required information and accommodation can be booked online. The Tourism department gives a rebate of about 30% on project basis. So film makers can book hotels in advance as per their filming schedules.

The Government of India has set up a Film Facilitation Office (FFO) for seamless single window clearance. Do you have any such single window clearance system in place to facilitate film shooting in the State?
To encourage film shooting in the State, Telangana Government is formulating a robust film tourism policy which includes a single window clearances for necessary permissions and logistic and administration assistance.
The specialty of the policy is that Telangana State Film Development Corporation will accept the application from filmmakers and process their application for shootings by pursuing the matter with various departments and issuing clearances within 7 days. If not done in the prescribed time frame, the applicants could take all permissions as deemed to have been given on the eighth day and could start shooting.

Do you have a redressal mechanism in place for film producers to contact when they face problems during a film shoot? Who is the first person to call in Telangana if someone wants to shoot?
We will be happy to assist filmmakers through the course of shooting and would try and eliminate any problem or difficulties. Telangana State Film Development Corporation (TSFDC) has appointed a nodal officer to understand the concerns and needs of filmmakers through the various stages of filmmaking and the permission process. Filmmaker can also reach the Executive Director of TSFDC for any query.

What other initiatives do you have for the creative industry and filmmakers to engage them?
The Telangana Tourism department is inviting filmmakers and producers across the globe to take part in the massive state wide “Fam-Tours” to get acquainted with the State and film locations.
These Fam-Tours campaign to build Brand Telangana and tell its beauty across all media platforms. We are also radically improving infrastructure across the state to make it them beautiful and functional for film makers.

Will you be forthcoming if any of the foreign film producers want to project Telangana as a backdrop for a feature film?
We are committed to creating great cinema. We aspire to become a part of the international filmmaking community which will be proud to see more of Telangana and our people in international cinema.

 Jodeghat valley
 Laknavaram Suspension Bridge
 Golconda Fort
 SapthaGundalu Water Falls
 Ramoji Film City
 Faluknama Palace