India’s Film Bazaar Attracts Growing Crowd

Int'l execs and festival heads flock to Goa for taste of new era Indian film-making

Film Bazaar, Goa, India

GOA, India — International executives and festival programmers this week flock to Goa, India, for the Film Bazaar (Nov. 20-24) project market, which kicks off today in the former Portuguese colony.

Backed by the National Film Development Corp. (NFDC) and now in its seventh edition, the project market is a well-oiled operation curating and selecting several different clusters of Indian projects at development stage and works-in-progress that each aim to attract foreign finance, co-production partners or eventual festival exposure.

Lined up to meet the Indian filmmakers are international executives including IM Global’s Ben Rekhi, Brillstein Entertainment’s Jai Khanna, Melody Djavadi of Shoreline Entertainment, Wild Bunch acquisitions head Marie-Pierre Valle and Cedomir Kolar of French producer ASAP Films. (At a previous edition, Kolar connected with Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga to board this year’s Cannes favorite Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox,” which gets a North American release through Sony Pictures Classics.)

The executive ranks are also swelled by numerous festival heads from Locarno, Rome, London, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong as well as a heavyweight Cannes quartet consisting of Thierry Fremaux and Christian Jeune (official selection), Charles Tesson (Critics’ Week) and Edouard Waintrop (Directors’ Fortnight).

As well as the uncompleted projects the execs and selectors will be able to take a look at more completed films as the market expands its screening series Film Bazaar Recommends. Titles include Pakistan’s foreign-language Oscar contender “Zinda Bhaag,” “Jai Ho” a docu-feature based on Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman, and Kamal Swaroop’s “Rangbhoom.”

The expanding ranks of projects and foreign delegates reflect the growing sophistication of young Indian filmmakers in the ways of project finance, which is increasingly matched by overseas programmers’ and arthouse distributors’ attempts to uncover more of Indian cinema beyond mainstream Bollywood.

The Bazaar has long mentored writers and directors under its two stage Screenwriters Lab (the first stage takes place in Toronto) and calls on industry elders including British critic Derek Malcolm and Rome festival chief Marco Mueller. This year it expands that teaching function with a new segment, the Producers Lab, intended to equip Indian producers with more of the skills they need when entering the international marketplace.

Just down the road in Panaji the government-backed Intl. Film Festival of India (IFFI) (Nov. 20-30) also gets under way today with an opening night screening of Jiri Menzel’s “The Don Juans.” Its huge line-up ranges from international festival titles through an Indian Panorama to a 12-film selection honoring Japan as the country in focus. IFFI will close with a screening of Justin Chadwick’s biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”