A hastily organized crowd-funding campaign appears to have saved the Mumbai Film Festival from imminent closure.
The 16th edition of the festival will go ahead as planned, Oct. 14-21, organisers confirmed to Variety on Tuesday.
The festival was in danger of closure after a five-year sponsorship deal with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment ended this year and organizers had failed to replace it with other sufficient corporate sponsorship deals. The festival needs a minimum of $826,000 to run.
Buoyed by support on social media from friends of the festival, the organisers set up a pledge web page this weekend. Contributors were encouraged to make donations starting at INR 5000 ($82). Under Indian law, contributions are eligible for 50% deduction from taxable income.
The festival has already raised more than $250,000 and is now confident of reaching its target.
The biggest single contribution, of $100,000, is from the recently launched Cinestaan Film Company, backed by industrialist Anand Mahindra and entrepreneur Rohit Khattar. Producer Manish Mundra (“Ankhon Dekhi”) has pledged $82,000. Other prominent contributors include producer Vinod Chopra (“3 Idiots”), TV film critic Anupama Chopra (“The Front Row with Anupama Chopra”), director Hansal Mehta (“City Lights”), director and screenwriter Rajkumar Hirani (“3 Idiots”) and Vivek Kajaria and Nilesh Navalakha, producers of “Fandry”.
“Today for the first time ever it truly feels that the Mumbai Film Festival belongs to the patrons and lovers of the festival. I thank each and every one of those who strive to ensure that the festival continues to present the best of world cinema to our Indian audiences,” festival director Srinivasan Narayanan said in a statement.
“Mumbai is a city defined by cinema. It deserves and needs its own festival. Going forward, the roadmap has to be creating a world-class festival that is also self-sustaining,” Anupama Chopra told Variety.
Support has emerged from overseas as well. “Mumbai is one of the most exciting film cities in the world and it deserves a strong film festival. I hope everyone can offer their support to help keep the door open for a celebration of global cinema in Mumbai every year,” said Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto festival via social media.