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Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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Film Bazaar 2019: Film pitches, hectic meetings, panel discussions

Film Bazaar 2019: Film pitches, hectic meetings, panel discussions
Held on the sidelines of the 50th International Film festival of India (IFFI), Goa, 2019, 
at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, the Film Bazaar is an annual event organised by the National Film Development Corporation of India, over four days.
 
The second day of the 13th Film Bazaar continued with hectic meetings, insightful knowledge sessions, and workshops filled with insights for participants.
Here are some quotes from speakers at the Bazaar:
~Every emerging industry needs a hit for people to notice it and for the Indian film industry it was ‘The Lunchbox. – Mr. Marten Rabarts (Festival Director, New Zealand International Film Festival)~
 
~ We are very sure that linear TV will start taking a backseat and eventually even news and live TV will move to OTT. – Mr. Aashish Singh (Director, Original Films, Netflix India)
 
~24 exciting projects from across the world including projects in the WIP Lab pitch to a room full of buyers & producers in the Film Bazaar Recommends section~
 
~After the success of ‘3 Idiots’, Japanese audiences realized that Indian cinema is not just about song & dance, they have stories too – Ms. Kyoko Dan (Festival Advisor, Asian Cinema)~
 
Pitches for Film Bazaar Recommends (FBR) opened the day. 24 films shortlisted from the Viewing Room were showcased to a packed room full of financiers, producers, distributors, sales agents, festival programmers and other industry participants.
 
Deepti D’Cunha, the veteran film programmer in her 9th year at Film Bazaar, initiated the proceedings with an introduction to this exciting section. “This year we have films in 13 different languages in the FBR and these include films in Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Hebrew,  Tamil, Telugu, Maithili, Kannada, Marathi and English. There are films by debut directors’ as well as those with multiple films under their belt.”
 
The room broke into applause when she highlighted that Ridham Janve’s ‘The Gold Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain’, a 2016 Work In Progress (WIP) project, won the prestigious Young Cinema award at Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2019.
 
The pitches were divided into those by first time directors and those with films already under their belt. In a first for Film Bazaar, films selected for the WIP Lab also got an opportunity to pitch their projects to the room. The five films in the Lab included four debut films as well as one film by a female filmmaker. The films in the WIP Lab are in three Indian languages – 3 in Hindi, 1 in Kannada & 1 in Gojri.
 
The Knowledge Series started with an insightful session on independent Indian cinema, it’s perception in the international market, and how filmmakers can leverage it to their benefit.
 
Marten Rabarts (Festival Director, New Zealand International Film Festival) spoke about how the success of ‘The Lunchbox’ changed things for Indian cinema internationally. “Every emerging or re-emerging industry needs a hit for people to notice it. For the independent Indian film industry, it was ‘The Lunchbox’. In fact, it was the biggest non-English film in the USA & UK.”
 
Marten Rabarts, Kyoko Dan, TCA Kalyani, Rick Ambros, Kayvan Mashayekh and Kilian Kerwin
 
Kyoko Dan (Festival Advisor, Asian Cinema) shared her own example from the Japanese market. “Till a few years back audiences used to only think song-and-dance when they thought of Indian cinema. But after the success of ‘3 Idiots’, everything changed. They realized Indian films have a story too.”
 
In perhaps the most insightful session of all, Wendy Bernfeld (Managing Director, Rights Stuff BV) gave a comprehensive overview of the online/ OTT distribution ecosystem across the world. Every slide of her presentation was filled with nuggets of valuable and hard-to—find information, beautifully collated from years of experience. Filmmakers and producers eagerly clicked photographs of each slide as she laid bare the secrets of the OTT world to them. Her presentation provided detailed information on the various OTT platforms in the different parts of the world, by genre and focus areas, that most Indian filmmakers hadn’t heard about before.
 
Actor/Producer Sanjay Suri later moderated a panel on the changing landscape for cinematography with cinematographers Shanker Raman, Tapan Basu, and Fowzia Fathima. The discussion focused on the evolving nature of cinematography due to technical advancements, a point which the panellists agreed with but not without pointing out that ‘the more things change, the more they remain same’.
 
Later Fowzia Fathima spoke about the growing number of women cinematographers in the industry, and the Indian Women Cinematographer’s Collective that has taken shape in the last few years. She took the audience through IWCC’s website which was launched in March 2017, and currently features its 78 members.
 
A special session focused on the state of Uttar Pradesh, and its film friendly practices also took place during the day. The state has won the Most Film Friendly Award at the 64th National Film Awards in the year 2016, and the session gave an overview of the major strides the state has made in that respect.
 
Sessions on the Film Facilitation Offices (FFO) of various state governments started with a brief chat with the Smt. T.C.A. Kalyani (MD of NFDC India). Shri Vikramjit Roy (Head of FFO, NFDC) moderated the session where Smt. T.C.A. Kalyani answered the queries of and took on board suggestions from the various state representatives. Most of the questions revolved around improving co-ordination between the national and state bodies as well as amongst the various departments relevant to the filmmaking community like Defence, Forest and ASI.
 
Kulmeet Makkar (Producers Guild of India) sought more flexibility and openness to shoot in historic monuments with a clear list of do’s and don’t’s. He cited the example of Greece where filmmakers are allowed to shoot in the premises of ancient historic buildings. Many state representatives agreed with this point and the MD promised to look into the matter, and take it up with the relevant ministry.
 
The Producers’ Workshop too had multiple insightful sessions by experienced professionals on various topics of interest to them.
 
Sanjay Bhutiani (Producer – Mukti Bhavan) shared his experience of raising funds for his film and distributing it across the world. Speaking about how the journey started he said, “It all starts with an idea. We believed the idea had a soul, that it was very unique though embedded in a very specific local culture and belief.”
 
Taking the conversation on distribution forward, Aashish Singh (Director, Original Films, Netflix India) explained the various aspects of licensing content to Netflix.
 
Optimistic about the OTT space in India, he said, “Sky is the limit. Broadband penetration in India is growing. There are going to be around 95 Mn households in India by 2020. We are very sure that linear TV will start taking a backseat and eventually even news and live TV will move to OTT.”
 
The last session of the day in the Producers’ Workshop was by Mr. Marten Rabarts (Festival Director, New Zealand International Film Festival) who explained the role and value of film festivals to budding producers. “Most people focus on the red carpet at Cannes, but where the real business is happening is in the basement where the market is. That’s where all the selling and buying is happening.”
 
ABOUT FILM BAZAAR 
Film Bazaar is a platform exclusively created to encourage collaboration between the international and South Asian film fraternities. The market aims at facilitating sales for world cinema in the region. With every passing year Film Bazaar has grown bigger and 2018 saw more than 850 delegates attend the 4 day event. The 13th Edition of Film Bazaar will be held from 20th-24th November 2019 at the Marriott Resort in Goa, India. 
 
ABOUT NFDC 
Incorporated in the year 1975, National Film Development Corporation Ltd is formed by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (GoI) with the primary objective of promoting the good cinema movement. NFDC is instrumental in creating an ecosystem to support the financing, distribution and development of independent films across the country.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


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