Regional cinema: In search of a market

Regional cinema: In search of a market

Regional cinema: In search of a market

For the struggling, cash-starved regional serious filmmakers, exploring an international market to promote their cinema was always going to be tough.

The thought itself proved monumentally aspirational as even breaking the inter-state barrier had turned insurmountable. The consensus among renowned and first-time filmmakers at a Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES) seminar here on Friday was inevitable, almost predictable: A strong, pan-Indian platform to showcase regional cinema had to precede such global aspirations.

A feature-packed Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy Web portal to promote Kannada films along the lines of the International Movie Data Base (IMDB).

This was a workable suggestion made by many seminar participants. But as acclaimed Kannada filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli noted, the approach to promote regional films, and Kannada cinema in particular, had to be methodical.

“The films should become more visible. We should have Kannada film festivals at all the major centres in the country. The Academy too should be more proactive, it should go beyond just festivals,” he told Deccan Herald.

Promotions had to go hyper-local first, exploring avenues within Karnataka. But Kasaravalli did not rule out global marketing if driven by a network of Kannada organisations.
“Such initiatives had worked well in the past, in Singapore and the Gulf. If possible, we could explore organising a festival of the best Kannada films at an international venue every five years,” said the filmmaker.

Evolving filmmakers were always short of funds. This phenomenon was global, as acknowledged even by many foreign delegates at BIFFES. But Kasaravalli wondered why festival organisers nationwide were reluctant to pay regional film producers although they forked out big sums for international films.

“When you can pay up to Rs one lakh for foreign films, why not set aside at least Rs 10,000 for regional films? I call this arm-twisting.”

Serious filmmakers of yesteryear had benefited from an active film society culture. “Now there is no such movement. There is no camaraderie among serious filmmakers,” said a prominent director. Without such networking, industry intervention or an active support from state institutions such as Doordarshan, there was no way regional films could survive the Bollywood onslaught, felt Vasant Mokashi, an independent filmmaker.

Doordarshan, he recalled, had showcased regional language films in the past. But the time slots were not just right. “Showing a subtitled regional film at post-lunch 1.30 or late night 10.30 pm is not the way to go about it. Before going international, we should find avenues to show good Indian films in different languages to our own people. Nowadays, it is very easy to get subtitles,” Mokashi said.