By Sugandha Rawal
PANAJI– From delving in a hassle-free single-window clearance mechanism for film shoots, giving a new lease of life to children’s cinema to occasional talk of protests by FTII students and the ‘intolerance’ debate — the ninth edition of the Film Bazaar here went beyond the movie business, and focused on taking Indian cinema on a global voyage.
The annual film market, organised by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), was held from November 20 to 24, alongside the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here.
The high point of the five-day event — a converging point for film buyers and sellers from across the world — was as always the “film projects”, said NFDC of India managing director Nina Lath Gupta.
“The response has been very good. There’s a lot of satisfaction from international and domestic delegates,” Gupta told IANS.
A key announcement was of a Film Facilitation Office, to be operated by the NFDC. Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore unveiled its logo, and said its aim is to make India a global film shooting destination.
To expedite the process, Film Tourism Symposium sessions were held where popular Indian filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Ramesh Sippy, Prakash Jha and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra voiced the film industry’s problems and their expectations from the facilitation office.
“We have announced and it would take a few months to set up. There will be trial and error mechanism. It will be a period of learning,” Gupta said of the initiative.
The filmmakers, meanwhile, wish the paperwork turns into a reality soon.
Parvesh Sahni, who has line produced films like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Life of Pi”, told IANS that the talks were positive, but “now we hope the positivity travels to Delhi and something concrete comes out of it”.
A new addition to this year’s Film Bazaar was a Screenwriters’ Lab for children and young adults. Gupta said two scripts from the section will also be travelling to Sweden.
“In a country with such a huge tradition and history with amazing civilization, it’s very important to develop children’s cinema. The response was great… In fact, two scripts have already been selected for Sweden,” added Gupta, who is contemplating documenting the journey of the Film Bazaar, which will turn 10 next year.
This year, a maximum number of 157 new South Asian films were submitted in the Viewing Room and the highest number of 37 participants from five countries were in the Producers Lab this year.
As many as 19 projects were selected in the Co-Production Market, 18 scripts were selected in the three Screenwriters Labs, and 31 films were in the Film Bazaar Recommends section.
Deepti D’Cunha, who has been a programmer of two editions of International Children’s Film Festival Of India (ICFFI) and programmes for the Chicago South Asian Film Festival (CSAFF), was responsible to curate films for the Viewing Room section and Work-in-progress lab at the Film Bazaar.
D’Cunha asserted that some of the films are already on the way to making it big.
“The viewing room was full to capacity. Some films have already managed to create a buzz. We would be able to see them making a mark in the coming year both in India and foreign market,” D’Cunha said, adding that though it is a difficult task to pick a trend, women-oriented stories dominated the film section this year.
Paolo Bertolin, the South-East and Asia Pacific selector for the Venice International Film Festival, also told IANS that the viewing room “was heavily hit by festival organisers and international sales agents”.
Also, this year, the Investor’s Pitch consisted of three pitching sessions that provided investors a platform to connect with film projects from different genres and in various stages of completion.
There were nine Film Offices set up at this year’s Film bazaar with tourism offices of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra – Film City, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Daman & Diu and Puducherry.
As part of their NFDC Knowledge Series, the annual film market had lined up an interesting panel of experts and film personalities. Some of the names were Kabir Khan, Sudhir Mishra, Shekhar Kapur, Ketan Mehta, Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap and music maestro A.R. Rahman.
Films apart, talks surrounding ongoing controversies, protests and censor issues in the country also found a spotlight at the event.
Rathore condemned the decision of FTII students to take their protest to domains of IFFI and addressed the censorship issues of the country by saying that the decision of what to watch and what not to watch should be left to the people.