See Highlights From NFDC's Film Bazaar 2019
The second day of the 13th Film Bazaar continued with hectic meetings, insightful knowledge sessions, and workshops filled with insights for participants.
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 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 Work-in-Progress (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."
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.
Workshops on Skill Development, a new addition this year, continued on the second day of the Film Bazaar.
Early in the day Smt. Vani Tripathi Tikoo took an exciting workshop on acting for the students attending the workshop. Breaking away from the monotony of talking her way through the session, she made the students participate in an active workshop with group activities designed to get them to work together, thus creating teammates out of strangers. With her session, she highlighted that real skill development happens through experiential learning.
"My method is to involve these students who come from a creative background and let them think freely and unleash them on a journey of storytelling. This workshop is an attempt to create a sense of involvement", Smt Vani Tripathi Tikoo said.
Later in the day, writer Puneet Krishna of Mirzapur fame, took the young group through his experiences and learnings as the writer of the popular web series and explained how things have changed for writers with the advent of OTT platforms. He said, "A writer has more power when it comes to a web series. The world lies on the shoulders of the writer and not on those of the stars. Therefore writers are getting paid more, which is a good development."
His quirky session included many such nuggets of information that the young group lapped up with eagerness.
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."