NFDC India’s Film Bazaar is all set to present an international co-production market for feature films and documentaries, a Screenwriters’ Lab with international guest mentors, a Business Conclave on industry trends and concerns and many other activities and events.
The idea is to promote the Cinemas of India and take them global.
Spearheading the initiative is NFDC India managing director Nina Lath Gupta. In conversation with Businessofcinema.com, which is the official media partner for Film Bazaar, Gupta gives a low down on what to expect from the market this year and the benefits it provides to the Indian film industry.
How are things shaping up for Film Bazaar? How is it going to be bigger this year?
Things are going well so far. This year we will also be presenting 10 documentaries along with 15 feature films so in that sense it will be bigger. We have the heads of some of the biggest sales agencies coming in from the overseas like Arc Light Films, Celluloid and MDC International amongst others. There has been a lot of interest internationally and hopefully that will be reflected in the market this year.
This is the second year for the Bazaar, so what are the learnings that you have had from last year’s experience?
We got three primary feedbacks last year. The first was that we should have documentaries, which we have included this year. The second was that there should be a meeting scheduler. Last year people were registering until the last minute and hence we did not even know who all were participating in the market. It was so last minute. So this year we have set up a meeting scheduler and have sent all the projects out to invited guests in advance so that they know what is being presented and there is an organised way of getting in touch with people whose projects they are interested in.
The third was that there should be a delegate manual so that one knows who all are attending the market and how to get in touch with them. Last year this was not possible because 80 per cent of the registrations came in at the last minute. This year we urged people to register earlier so as to print this manual wherein details of delegates who are attending, their company profile, and their goals and objectives for attending the market will be printed.
What kind of registrations have you seen until now?
This year we have seen a more focused response than last year where it was random. From India, the independent filmmakers’ response has been really great in terms of registrations and additionally, companies have also shown some response.
What are the issues that are going to be discussed at the Business Conclave on industry trends and concerns?
We will be discussing the financing issues, co-production advantages and distribution in India and internationally.
One of the sessions will be on Taking Indian Documentaries to Global Audiences. Speakers for this session are: Vanja Milocerdjic (Coproduction Office & ZagrebDox, Sarajevo, Human Right film festival), Marie – Michel Cattelain (Unlimited films and producer of Pakistan-France Doc coproduction last year), Ashim Ahluwalia (producer – director John & Jane), Jahnu Barua (President, IDPA) and Nelleke Driessen, MD – Fortissimo Films, documentary sales company.
We will also have a session in association with Screen International, which is titled Accessing International Finance and Distribution. This session will address overseas funding sources for Indian filmmakers and how these have been affected by the credit crunch and global economic downturn?
Eight scripts have been selected for Film Bazaar’s Screenwriters’ Lab. What genres are these and what is your take on the quality of work submitted?
We will be able to get quality feedback only from the mentors as they are the experts on it. We have gone through a stringent selection process. Basically the mission of Film Bazaar is present films that have stories of contemporary India because we’ve been told that that’s the kind of interest people have. Some of these scripts are going to be interesting. We are doing the Screenwriter’s workshop in association with the Binger Film Lab and they are very experienced in this area.
Tell us about the Work In Progress lab and the response to it?
We are doing a work in progress workshop this year wherein we will take films that are at a rough cut stage and have the potential. I won’t say that there has been a very good response to this as yet but we are hoping it will pick up and we get two or three scripts. The WIP lab has to be proved as yet so we believe that next year is when it will be received well.
What was the idea behind having the Work In Progress Lab?
When we do our interactions with programmers who come in for festivals, this is something that they wanted – to fine tune films or stories. So when you are making a film for the international market then it is only logical to take feedback from them in the production stages and keep that feedback in mind while editing the film. There is no compulsion on the producer or the director to implement what the mentors at the WIP workshop tell him to do. But there is an additional feedback, which can only help the film and not obstruct it.
The primary idea was when the talk came about as to why Indian films don’t get into big film festivals. When we deal with these programmers from these festivals, they appreciate the films but always have some opinion to offer.
We have done this as an experiment but if it doesn’t work then we will re-evaluate our plans next year on this.
What are your expectations from Film Bazaar this year?
I hope that it is useful to the Indian filmmakers because that’s the objective with which we have launched this market. Our aim is to take the cinemas of India abroad. The recurring query from international buyers is that they didn’t know where to start looking for Indian films. They want to invest and invest but didn’t know how to begin since this is such a vast country.
If the film industry is happy, we are happy.
Film Bazaar is a part of IFFI, do you see that as an advantage for you or does it have the potential to be spun off as an independent market as well?
This is a business platform and it is a part of our mandate to promote the Indian Panorama of films and IFFI does play a relevant role in promoting this too. So there is a synergy because we are able to present the latest films that in the opinion of a jury comprising eminent people are good films.
Film Bazaar is a market and IFFI is a festival platform so there has to be an independent approach as the people who come here are not necessarily going to be film enthusiasts but are interested in the business of films. What is common between them is that maybe people who are coming with world cinema that is being showcased at IFFI, they may want to look at sales opportunities for their films and would want to come to Film Bazaar. Likewise, the Indian Panorama is being presented as a creative output of the Indian film industry for 2008 and that is being marketed and promoted at Film Bazaar to identify sales opportunities.
Have you kept a tab on the projects that were presented last year at Film Bazaar and their current status?
Well we have kept a tab on a couple of them. One film is about to go into production. Then we are making one ourselves, which is a Konkanese script called Man Beyond The Bridge. There was one more script wherein a Mumbai based corporate had informed the director that they were interested in producing it.
What is the status on the seven co-production movies that NFDC has?
We commit funding to films and then they go into development. So the director has to be ready to make the film and also find partners for it. We have two films in post production, Lucky Red Seeds and The White Elephant.
Another film titled Bioscope is complete and we have been taking it to a lot of festivals. The feedback has been good so far. It got the best film award at Osian Cinefan Film Festival earlier this year as well as the best cinematography award at SAIFF in New York. It’s in competition at the London Film Festival and also the Sao Paulo Film Festival. It is an art house film, which will have a limited audience and one needs to take a distribution call on each of these films.
The I&B ministry had allocated Rs 300 million for five years for promotion of new talent. How is this being utilised?
We will be investing this money in regional cinema talent so we have already begun work on the Konkanese film that I spoke about earlier. We are also shooting a Bengali film called Maya Bazaar in Bengal. The shooting for this has commenced. Then we are making a Rajasthani film, which will take our record to making films in 17 languages. The crew for this film is currently out for recce.
Another film called Bubblegum has also been under development for a long time now but production is finally going to commence on it. The crew is at present in Jamshedpur for a recce, where the film will be shot. This is being co-produced by Walkwater Media and Cosmic Films.
Wow! That’s my hometown!! So why Jamshedpur?
(Smiles) It’s a very cute Hindi film that talks about coming of age and is set in the Tata Steel Plant. Hence it is being shot there. It revolves around a family working in the factory.