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Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



IFFI 50: Open Forum debates benefits of digital distribution for independent film-makers

IFFI 50: Open Forum debates benefits of digital distribution for independent film-makers

The 50th edition of IFFI held an Open Forum on the 27th of November, 2019. The topic debated in the session was: whether independent producers are benefiting because of digital distribution or not.

Speakers on the panel were renowned film-makers Shaji N. Karun, Rahul Dholakia (Parzania and Raees fame), famous editor Carol Littleton (ET), Ujwal Nirgudkar, Technical Advisor to IFFI, wildlife film-maker S. Nallamuthu, and independent producer Marina Naumova, from Russia. The Forum was moderated by Siraj Syed, veteran Indian journalist.

Carol Littleton said, “I have been working in the area of digital editing and release of films on the digital platform for almost 20 years now. It has been revolutionary. It’s amazing to see small budget films being released digitally. The one big difference between India and America is that America doesn’t have government backing for films, but India has so many platforms to generate revenues. In the west, it is difficult for independent filmmakers, but there is also an opportunity to tell experimental subjects.”

Marina Naumova, Distribution Head, of Country Focus, Russia, and Independent Producer, said, “It’s amazing that we are talking about distribution on this open forum. It is a very lovely era for all independent producers. Our popular films of Russia are not only bought but also distributed in the UK theatrically. The new generation of film-makers are very happy about this digital era.”

Rahul Dholakia was of the view that the time is good for the independent film-makers as it has broken all the boundaries, since now there are many platforms. He also added that it is wonderful to be a part of this change.

National Award winner and leading wildfire filmmaker S. Nallamuthu opined that Over The Top (OTT) platforms have helped many documentary film-makers, and that he believed India has so much content and so many stories to tell.

Padmashri Shaji N. Karun said, “Today, I can take my films to any corner of the world, but back then, technology was smaller and simpler, but now digitisation has taken over. However, digital distribution has become money minting business in a short span of time, and I don’t think Netflix would be interested in streaming the kind of films I make.”

Ujwal Nirgudkar, Technical Advisor to National Heritage Mission, said, “We are bringing the standards for digital streaming, which used to be 2K for the theatrical release, but now one see movies in 4K and 6K. Mobile is a huge market these days, there are around 90 crore mobile phones in India. Digitisation has made distribution easier. It is direct, and end to end, now. Duration of the films is also reducing. This is going to be a boon.”

(Based on a Press Release, issued by the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India).


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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