Indian gov’t adds muscle to promote domestic pics

Co-productions seek coin at Film Bazaar

GOA — The National Film Development Corp.’s annual market, the Film Bazaar (Nov. 24-27), is spreading its wings.

This year, 23 South Asian-themed co-productions from 12 countries are looking to attract financing at the market. These include “No Man’s Land” director Danis Tanovic’s “Tiger” (France); Roberto San Pirtro’s “The Vegetarian” (Italy); Prakash Belawadi’s “The Pollutant” (Sweden); Alka Raghuram’s “Burqa Boxers” (U.S.); and Sangeeta Datta’s “Stranger Across the Sea” (U.K.).

Indian projects include Dibakar Banerjee’s “The Boy and the Bandit”; veteran Ketan Mehta’s “Noor — The Princess Spy”; and Sopan Muller’s “Free Fall,” on which Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty (“Slumdog Millionaire”) is a producer.

“International co-productions offer not only co-funding but also easier access to distribution and exhibition avenues abroad and maintenance of production and technical standards of an internationally acceptable quality. It remains an objective with NFDC to facilitate growth in this area with a view to enhancing the international audience base of Indian cinema (and) revenue generation from multiple territories,” said NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta.

Gupta recognizes that the path to global recognition is difficult. “We face several challenges, one of them being the need to figure out how we can increase film exports. Another key challenge is the need to leverage India as a shooting destination and thus also increasing tourism,” she said.

In order to surmount these challenges, the NFDC has integrated with the Indian tourism ministry’s Incredible India campaign to increase local cinema’s visibility abroad. Promotions began at Cannes this year and continued at Toronto and the AFM, with efforts at the Berlin and Hong Kong fests due in 2012.

The ministry will also award $20,000 to the best project in the co-production market.

Meanwhile, the Film Bazaar is growing, with 500 delegates attending this year from 40 countries, up 11% from 2010, and 40 industry screenings, up 13% from 2010.

Film Bazaar also has several international partnerships. There are six projects in the Screenwriters’ Lab, designed to encourage screenwriters with original Indian stories, in partnership with the Binger Filmlab (Netherlands), Venice and Cinecitta Luce. The work-in-progress lab will see filmmakers screening rough cuts of their pics to international sales agents, critics and film funds in order to get their input.

The long-awaited creation of a film commission for the country is expected soon.