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Indian creative energy hits festival screens across the globe


Indian film is bursting forth on screens far and wide, as film-makers take advantage of a more globalised world, a spurt in the visibility of local talent, and the possibilities this throws up.

"The diversity, creative insights and technical virtuosity of Indian cinema are a pageant on world screens in the fall and winter seasons of 2007," says the latest issue of the 'FilmIndia Worldwide'.

The magazine has listed a range of Indian films taking part in global festivals during these months.

From the IFFI at Goa [See photo above], to the Fourth Dubai International Film Festival (Dec 9-16), and the Florence Indian Film Festival 'River to River' (Dec 7-17), a range of Indian films are going to discerning audiences at these festivals.

As expected, the 38th International Film Festival of India at Goa (Nov 23-Dec 3) has the maximum of Indian films -- 19 feature films; two in the 'Asian, Africa, Latin America Competition'; 15 in the shorts/docs category; three in the Film India Worldwide segment of expat-crafted films.

Dubai has space for eight Indian films -- Mira Nair's AIDS JaaGO, Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Naalu Pennungal, Santosh Silvan's Before the Rains, Remo D'Souza's Lal Paharer Katha, Shivajee Chandrabhushan's Frozen, Jagmohan Mundhra's Shoot on Sight, Manish Acharya's Lions of Punjab Presents, Akbar Khan's The Taj Mahal, An Eternal Love Story.

Florence takes in Indian films in many categories -- feature, documentaries, shorts, animation.

Indian films also make it to the 12th International Film Festival of Kerala (Dec 7 to 14), the 31st Cairo International Film Festival (Nov 27 to Dec 7),

Some of the festivals where Indian work has been recently showcased include the 3rd San Francisco South Asian Film Festival (Nov 16-18), 13th Lyon Asian Film Festival (Nov 6-11), and Third Eye 6th Asian Film Festival (Mumbai, Nov 2-8).

Films from here have also reached Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Kathmandu and other festivals at Sitges (Catalonia, Spain), Pusan (South Korea), New York, Vancouver, Kazan (Tatarstan), and Telluride (Colorado).

Indian film is gaining attention, at least in festivals. The challenge to reach out to wider audiences -- beyond just the expat Indian communities -- is one which is being continually addressed.

With a wide range of experimental and non-mainstream film being created here, the process is speeding up, thanks to digitisation which allows more small players to enter the field and also makes it easier to distribute films to wider markets or enter them in competitions in festivals worldwide.

'FilmIndia Worldwide' editor Uma da Cunha comments: "At year end 2007, Indian cinema has never felt so self-assured, so ready to take on the world, rather like the country's economy."

She notes that film festivals are mushrooming in India too -- with fests this winter in Kolkata, Kerala, IFFI currently underway in Goa. In 2008, there will be festivals in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh.

"Why not, given this nation of over a billion souls?" asks editor Uma da Cunha in the journal.

'FilmIndia Worldwide' is a publication of the Confederation of Indian Industry. CII, an lobby for Indian business, has been promoting entertainment and films too among what it calls "creative industries".

CII argues that "in the future, the ideas and imaginations of a country will prove to be its greatest asset." It sees the "creative industries" of India as being an integral part of a knowledge-driven economy "capable of fuelling urban growth."

CII figures for India say that films, ads, music, digital media and other creative copyrighted products account of $ 15 billion worth of production in this country.

"In virtually every creative field, India has a tradition it can be proud of," argues the CII, suggesting that the country "can now reap the benefits of being an open society that is ready to integrate into the world and find new and profitable applications for ancient strengths."
It calls for special steps to understand and manage diversity, and allow India the advantage of being a "multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious pluralistic heritage that enables it to understand varied markets with ease."

CII argues that films, literature, music produced here would appeal to an audience in Western as well as South East Asian nations.

"Thus, a Hindi film can find an audience in the affluent Indian Diaspora in the UK and the US, while Tamil films find a niche audience in Malaysia and Singapore and Bengali films have an eager audience in Bangladesh," says the industry body.

CII is 112 years old, terms itself India's "premier business association" and has a membership of over 6500 organisations. It has eight offices overseas and 57 in India, and is headquartered in New Delhi's Lodhi Road area.

CII's Creative Industries Division says it is keen to help develop industries producing creative content in the field of media, electronic media, advertising, film, digital entertainment and fashion.

From Frederick Noronha in Goa 

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NORONHA Frederick

Frederick Noronha is a festival reporter with and
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