Bollywood awards go to Sheffield

U.K. city to host 2007 Intl. Indian Film Academy kudos

LONDON — The English city of Sheffield — best known to film buffs as the bleak, post-industrial backdrop to “The Full Monty” — may not be the sort of place immediately associated with the all-singing, all-dancing glamour of Bollywood but that could soon change.

The Yorkshire city edged out New York to host the 2007 Intl. Indian Film Academy kudos. Yorkshire’s coup emerged at the close of this year’s edition, which took place in Dubai last week.

The event, which started in 2000 in London’s Millennium Dome, can bring in as much as $10 million to the host city for the four-day affair, which includes a day showing off the area to location scouts.

The U.K. Film Council’s regional agency Screen Yorkshire was instrumental in attracting the IIFAs and is intent on milking the event for all it is worth.

“The IIFA Awards represent a fantastic opportunity for Screen Yorkshire to work closely with Indian producers to market what the region has to offer and to work together to make sure that filming runs as smoothly as possible in the future,” says Sally Joynson, acting chief exec of Screen Yorkshire. “The awards are also a great opportunity for people across the region to get involved and learn about Indian cinema.”

Screen Yorkshire’s blossoming rep as one of the most vibrant production bases outside London has been enhanced by its close ties with the edgy Sheffield-based Warp Films production company and the maverick auteur Shane Meadows (“Dead Man’s Shoes”).

In May the agency received $18.4 million in funding from Yorkshire Forward, the biggest cash injection from a regional development agency to a screen agency to date.

Sheffield’s winning bid trumpeted the region as a “model of multiculturalism” and will be a boon for locals — 4% of the local population have [cq] Asian roots, and Bollywood product has a “solid and growing” following, per Andrew Turner, Cineworld head of booking.

The Sheffield Cineworld site routinely shows Bollywood pics, and four of the 16 screens at the nearby Bradford Cineworld plex show Hindi-language films. The U.K. is the second-biggest market for Bollywood and accounted for three of the top 15 pics in the June 16-18 box office: “Fanaa,” “Chup chup ke” and “Phir hera pheri.”

According to Yorkshire Forward brass, it is expected to attract 28,000 visitors over the four days and generate more than $18 million in tourism revenues — not to mention helping to jazz up Sheffield’s somewhat dour rep.

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