M'max, Cinemavault, among distribs approached

KOLKATA — National Film Development Corp., India’s principal state-run movie production and distribution outfit, is zooming into Hollywood.

The NFDC is talking to U.S. specialty distribs including Miramax, Cinemavault, Cinebella and Cine Century, about penetrating the American film market and beefing up its exports in a big way.

NFDC has traditionally had a strong foothold in leading European movie markets like France, Germany and Italy.

“This is the first time that we are giving the American market such a hard look,” says Dipankar Mukhopadhyay, NFDC’s managing director. “The movie outfits that we are negotiating with have shown a keen interest in acquiring titles from our catalog. The companies will use their network to distribute our films in the U.S.”

For starters, TV and DVD rights to some titles have been licensed to Cinebella, generating revenues of $60,000. Between 70% and 80% of the NFDC’s export pie is dominated by the TV/video segment, with theatrical sales accounting for the rest.

Mukhopadhyay says the NFDC plans to participate in the American Film Market more extensively this year in hopes of fueling business in the U.S.

NFDC is in the midst of exploring ways to expand its presence in the U.K. Discussions with the British Film Council have extended to include co-productions.

“The script we are working on will be based on historical happenings in 19th-century India. It is aimed to be a movie that both Indian and foreign audiences would relate to,” Mukhopadhyay says.

The NFDC also is attempting to fan out into Latin America, Southeast Asia and South Africa. The Argentinian Film Development Board has “expressed a great deal of interest” to distribute Indian films from NFDC in Argentina and other South American territories. Discussions are in the works with Indonesia and with the Mauritius Film Development Corp. for Mauritius, the Seychelles and South Africa.

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