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Film Bazaar 2019 Gets Off To A Flying Start With Insightful Panels On Various Aspects Of Filmmaking Process

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Jyothi Venkatesh

The first day at the 13th Film Bazaar saw a flurry of activities – film pitches to packed rooms of the film fraternity, hectic meetings between the delegates, insightful sessions on different aspects of filmmaking, and workshops and master classes by veteran professionals for young students – all aimed at understanding the fast-evolving world of filmmaking and enabling new and easy ways of creating and distributing world-class Indian content.

The Co-Production Market (CPM) kick-started the day with a slate of 14 interesting projects that had the room abuzz with excitement as the filmmakers took to the podium and presented their projects to a selected audience of industry professionals including national and international producers, distributors, sales agents and financiers. These 14 films came from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, France, Nepal, Singapore and USA across languages like Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Assamese, Nepali, Dzongkha (Bhutanese) and Gujarati.

Prasoon Joshi

The pitches explored a range of themes from loneliness to sexual repression, from migration to dystopias. They were spread across genres like crime thrillers, surreal fantasy, science-fiction, and coming-of-age dramas amongst others.  Projects selected in the Screenwriter’s Lab also pitched their scripts to the industry delegates.

The Knowledge Series started with an insightful session on empowering youth with skill development. Renowned writer and poet Shri Prasoon Joshi (Chairman – Central Board of Film Certification) spoke about the need for filmmaking to tip-toe into the dreams of the middle-class of India. “Anything where only a few people succeed is not taken seriously by people. When people think about cinema, they automatically think about the stars. We need to make people understand that success in the industry requires dedication, passion, and skills and is not dependent on chance or nepotism.”

Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur commended the government and NFDC on the new initiative of skill development and said, “To take this brilliant initiative ahead, we need a public-private partnership so that the industry and the government can work together closely. The government should know better the requirements of the industry while the industry needs to understand the challenges of the government better.”

Siddharth Roy Kapur

Shri Atul Tiwari (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, GoI) highlighted the various initiatives the government has undertaken, and the panel discussed ways of skilling people at the entry level. Shri Prasoon Joshi rounded off the session by emphasizing the need to train more women in relevant skills and ensuring their safety on film sets.

Later film critic Anupama Chopra engaged Josh Siegel (Curator, Dept of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, New York) in a conversation on diversity in programming, and how MOMA could be a catalyst to the experience of independent cinemas from India.

Explaining his role at MOMA, Mr. Siegel said, “My job is to canvas the world for good films and find the right context in which to present them at MOMA. Every year we showcase about 1200 movies across various events including retrospectives, festivals, premieres, restorations and other events.”

Highlighting MOMA’s long-standing engagement with India Mr. Siegel spoke about MOMA’s role in getting Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali funded and seen. He further said, “MOMA had a role not just in getting Pather Panchali funded but also in getting it seen. The film had its premiere at MOMA even before it screened anywhere. MOMA thus had a role in introducing Indian cinema to the world.”

Vishal Bharadwaj

In the final session of the Knowledge Series, Shri Ashish Malhotra (Deputy Head – Worldskills India, National Skill Development Corporation) led a discussion on cinema inspiring entrepreneurship. The panel represented both, the industry and the government, with Mr. Shobhu Yarlagadda (Producer – Baahubali), Mr. Vishal Bhardwaj (Filmmaker), and Smt. Vani Tripathi Tikoo (Member – Central Board of Film Certification) present on the panel.

Mr. Bhardwaj highlighted the difficulty of making a film. “It’s not easy to write or make a film. It takes a toll on you. You really need to be passionate about it.”

Adding to this Mr. Yarlagadda said, “I don’t think young filmmakers should be in a hurry to make their films. I think they should train first with people they believe in, and learn the requisite skills. Only then should they make their films.”

Adil Hussain

Smt. Tikoo spoke about the changing scenario. “Today a young filmmaker is not dependent on hiring big cameras. They are shooting their films on smartphones. Youngsters from every corner of the country are making films in their languages. It has become democratized.”

In a separate session on the state in focus today, Ms. Jayashree S Bhoj (MD, Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation, Government of Maharashtra) spoke about the newly instituted policy of single window clearance by the state government. Speaking about the redevelopment plans for the Film City in Mumbai she said, “We are looking to expand Film City and have an integrated plan for a set-up that will have facilities for pre-production, production, and post-production. This redevelopment plan worth Rs 2,000 crores is already under process and the tenders have already gone out.”

Workshops on Skill Development, a new addition this year, were under-way through the day with well-known writer/poet Shri Prasoon Joshi initiating proceedings with his session on writing. Explaining the importance of writing he said, “You learn a lot about yourself in the process of writing. You realize the possibilities inherent in your thinking.” Encouraging the young group in the workshop, he said, “You are living in a fortunate time. Appealing to the lowest common denominator is no longer necessary. You have multiple platforms today, it is possible to make diverse stories.”

Knowledge Series – Amit Khare, Prasoon Joshi, Siddharth Roy Kapur

Acclaimed actor Adil Hussain also took a session on acting. He compared acting to water and asked the young crowd to learn from the qualities of water. Emphasizing the importance of one’s breath in acting, he said, “The first thing that gets affected by someone or something is a person’s breath. Emotions are a consequence of breath. Emotions are the trickiest to control, they don’t listen to you. It is therefore important to learn to control one’s breath by practising everyday so that one becomes capable of controlling emotions.”

He also highlighted the role of art in society by saying, “The role of art in society is to inspire people to be or do what they really want to do and thus make the world a better place.”

The separate track on the Film Facilitation Offices of the various state governments saw multiple discussions and sessions with industry participants engaged in exchange of ideas with the various state officials. Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and Kayvan Mashayekh (Producer’s Guild of America) spoke about the things that filmmakers seek when scouting for locations for their films.

“Ease of shooting, friendliness of officials, safety and security of the crew, and lesser paperwork are important to filmmakers”, said Mr. Bhandarkar. “The trade sees where the film is shot, one doesn’t need to advertize it. Everyone notices and word gets around if the state is helpful to filmmakers.”

KS – Ashish Malhotra, Vishal Bharadwaj, TCA Kalyani, Vani Tripathi Tikoo & Shobu Yarlagadda

In sessions with particular state officials, Kulmeet Makkar (CEO, Producer’s Guild of India) spoke about the need for co-ordination between the state and national governments. Officials from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand highlighted the efforts their states have made in making it easier for filmmakers to shoot in their respective states. A healthy exchange of ideas and opinions took place between them and the state officials promised to look into issues raised by the industry.

The Producers’ Workshop, focused on training young producers, saw the selected participants learn from experienced hands. The 20 projects from USA, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Taiwan and India selected to participate in the workshop this year were mentored around round-tables by the mentors. The key topics this year include cross cultural and cross border audience building, creative and artistic project development, risk sharing, film funds, and co-productions.

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