'India needs film commissions to support quality movies'

The Inquirer

With the market completing 50 years this time, Paillard speaks to Utpal Borpujari of Deccan Herald on the road ahead and what India needs to be done to get its cinema noticed globally:

There has been talk that the market has been low-key this year because of global recession. What’s your assessment?

Overall we had a market position very close to last year, and even if the official figures may be down by about four per cent, since many people took day passes, we think overall it has been very good. In terms of business, we feel that the market has been very qualitative this time. Companies with quality films have had big pre-sales and completed films have been picked up fast. Average filmmaking budgets have declined in recent times which factors in the lower prices some films have brought in. So, for me it is not connected with the global situation.

The market has completed 50 years this year. What is the road ahead? Will it be only pure cinema or will you also include new platforms in future?

We are the Festival de Cannes, and our main focus is cinema. But for me films do not mean only those in theatres. For many people films mean audio-visual works that were released primarily in theatres. I think that definition must change. What is more important for intrinsic characteristic of a film should be in terms of narration, rhythm, writing, the filming, the nature of the subject. If you have entertaining films with 3D, nice landscape, etc you really need certain amount of investment, but there is also passionate, arthouse stories, which are an intimate cinematographic experiences.

A lot of Indian companies are coming to the market, but what should small, independent, regional filmmakers from India do to get their works noticed?

For many years, it had been a tradition for younger producers to come to Cannes to establish relationships, but it is not growing so fast now. Also, there was a lot of talk of co-productions in regional languages or in English, but it is not happening so much now. There is clearly an interest but the government support has to grow more. I have had many discussions with Indian ministry of I&B, Directorate of Film Festivals and all the institutions, trying to explain that after the co-production treaty, each side must have real interest to proceed ahead.

We are waiting for another Satyajit Ray to emerge from India, but there is no support for Indian films in India. Bollywood does not need governmental support, independent films need it more. There is no quota or access in theatres or TV, no tax credit and
no support for regional Indian films.

Certainly it is difficult for independent Indian films, but it is also difficult for any country that wants to co-produce independent films. At present, India gives no real incentives to foreign producers in the form of rebates or logistical support.

You have been visiting the Indian pavilion. Do you think it needs to have some definite focus to be effective in this regard?

You see, everything is connected. India does not have a film commission. The National Film Development Corporation is not working as a film commission, they are not providing location and other helps. In many countries, there are film commissions, and when one comes to shoot a film in those countries, they get a lot of support and easy authorisations, as also access to technical things and people. It is really important to have a film commission if there is real interest in India on this aspect.

In the United States, it is the same as in India, with a very strong domestic market for Hollywood films. But the US also has very strong film commissions in its states. This is certainly something India needs to think about — not to support Bollywood which can support itself, but support independent films and co-productions.

Indian films have not been selected in Cannes for quite some time now. What is the secret formula to break through?

I am not the right person to answer that. I am sure India has talent, but there is no environment to support those talents. I spoke with some Indian filmmakers, and for most of them the ultimate goal is to make Bollywood films because there is money, production facilities and recognition in that. I think there is not yet recognition in India for art-house films. I feel a little disappointed because I have met filmmakers who have real interest in making international cinema.

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