In Danger of Closing, Mumbai Festival Turns to Crowdfunding

LONDON – A social-media campaign has been launched by stars and film fans in India in an attempt to keep this year Mumbai Film Festival from closing down.

The 16th edition of the festival is scheduled to run Oct. 14-21. But, since the expiry of a five-year sponsorship deal with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment after last year’s event, the festival has struggled to move ahead.

An earlier sponsorship deal with American Express ended the previous year.

The festival needs 50 million rupees ($826,000) to stay afloat. The festival is awaiting answers from some potential sponsors and will make an official announcement about the event’s future on Monday, organizers told Variety.

Meanwhile, supporters of the festl have taken to social media and canvassed the film fraternity to pledge money toward keeping the event alive. Actor Nimrat Kaur (“The Lunchbox”) tweeted: “The only film festival in our city needs support to survive. Every muscle will count to keep this from collapsing…” Director Hansal Mehta (“CityLights”) tweeted: “Mumbai gives the Hindi film industry its highest revenues. Can’t the industry do anything to keep Mumbai’s Film Festival alive?”

The board of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), the festival’s principal backer, will this weekend meet representatives of Indian crowdfunding platforms, Variety has learned.

The Mumbai festival is one of India’s highest-profile film events and had attracted top talent, including Oliver Stone, Zhang Yimou and Jane Campion, during the period of Reliance’s backing. It offered cash prizes worth $220,000 annually.

“We see MAMI moving from solely sponsor driven to the domain of public support, becoming a sort of movement. May this movement succeed,” festival director Srinivasan Narayanan posted on Facebook.

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