PHENOMENON

NFDC Film Bazaar’s multi-pronged strategy in India to enrich and upgrade film talent, provides a forum for screening and interaction, improve script and filmic quality and to initiate co-productions with other countries. It’s all working wonders. The five years it has taken to pin-point talent that weds artistic quality with audience appeal have paid off. NFDC has exposed Indian directors and producers to film festivals and film markets at home and abroad. There they have learned the modalities of finding seed money, locating sales agents and co-producers in an international marketplace framework. The films that have emerged are now at the key phase of eyeing mainstream distribution.

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Nandita Datta, associate editor of Indian independent cinema portal DearCinema.com, traces the spiralling effect of NFDC's Film Bazaar

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turned out to be a golden year for Indian cinema when four films made it to the coveted croisette of Cannes. For a cinema deprived of recognition at the premier film festival for several years, this sudden spotlight is more than just coincidence.

Help to screenwriting, work in progress
On a closer look, the common thread among these filmmakers is NFDC Film Bazaar: Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely was at the co-production market 2008 and Work-in-Progress Lab 2011, Vasan Bala was selected for Screenwriters’ Lab in 2010 and Anurag Kashyap is one of the six filmmakers that Film Bazaar promoted at Cannes last year.
Nina Gupta

NFDC Film Bazaar, an annual event held in Goa's Marriott Resort, has come a long way since it began in 2007 with 204 delegates from 18 countries in attendance. It started as a platform to boost international co-productions among Indian filmmakers. “From my own interactions with festival programmers and international sales agents, I realized that if you are looking to position a film internationally, it’s very important to engage at a preliminary level, to be able to bring about a synergy in the product and the demands of the market. So that is how the coproduction market got set up,” says Nina Gupta, Managing Director of NFDC.

Co-production gets a boost
The co-production market helps South Asian filmmakers find the right connections by bringing together international producers, distributors, sales agents and festival representatives. It showcases around 25 projects every year that are in need of additional finance as well as artistic support. In 2011, major film companies like Epicentre Films (France), Wild Bunch (France), Mogador Films (Germany), The Match Factory GMBH (Germany), Fortissimo Films (Amsterdam), Arte France Cinema and Global Film Initiative (USA) participated in Film Bazaar along with festival representatives from Cannes, Rotterdam, Busan, Goteborg and Tribeca film festivals. Film Bazaar 2011 saw 635 delegates from 40 countries. Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s Television, which participated at the coproduction market in 2010, premiered as the closing film of the Busan International Film
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Mostofa Sarwar Farooki

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Festival 2012. “A film market completely dedicated to South Asian filmmakers is very useful for budding directors. I found my German co-producer Mogador Film at Film Bazaar,” Farooki says. He is back in Film Bazaar with another project, Biscuit Race this year.

Enter Binger and Rabarts
In order to identify projects at an early stage, NFDC introduced Screenwriters’ Lab as part of Film Bazaar right from the beginning. Designed as a two-part workshop, the Screenwriters’ Lab was intended to finetune six Indian scripts for the international market. While in 2007 NFDC organized it on its own, Marten Rabarts, the then Artistic Director at Binger Film Lab, was invited to collaborate from 2008 onwards. “Mentoring projects for an international market is what I was doing at Binger Filmlab day in and day out. So it seemed like a really great match. We developed the Screenwriters' Lab together four times. This is the fifth one coming up,” says Rabarts enthusiastically. He recently took over as the Head of Development at NFDC. While the second part of the workshop is always held at Goa during Film Bazaar, the first part changed venues from Goa to Locarno to Venice Film Festival where it is currently held. Ritesh Batra’s Dabba, currently in post-production, participated in Screenwriters’ Lab 2011. “The Screenwriters’ Lab was instrumental in getting the film made. The script became sharper and it is where I first met our international partners. The Film Bazaar got the project in front of the right people; it then travelled to Cinemart and Berlin co-production market. The Lab was very involved even after - the mentors were just a phone call away even through production,” he says. Dabba is produced by ASAP Films (France), Rohfilm (Germany), AKFPL (India) and Cine Mosaic (USA).
Marten Rabarts

Ritesh Batra

Film Bazaar responds to Industry needs

One of the reasons why Film Bazaar is a success is that it has always responded to the needs of the industry. While the first year was limited to the Co-production Market and Screenwriters’ Lab, Work-in-Progress Lab and the Viewing Room were added to Film Bazaar in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Manjeet Singh “We got this feedback that it’s very critical how you approach the film at the rough-cut stage. What you keep in, what you throw out. What kind of music you put, where your edit could be tighter. That is how the Workin-Progress (WIP) lab evolved,” Gupta says. Five filmmakers are selected to show the rough-cuts of their films to a panel of international advisors and have one-on-one discussions at WIP Lab. The Lab selects a project for an award which enables the filmmaker to carry out Digital Intermediate (DI) work free of cost at a partner post-production studio. Manjeet Singh’s Mumbai Cha Raja participated in WIP Lab 2011 and won the DI award. "The mentors Derek Malcolm, Chris Patton and Katriel Schory guided me in shaping the film. Katriel has been recommending the film to festivals. The Lab gave tremendous exposure to the film and in a few days I personally got to know the top festival directors, curators, and sales agents,” he says. The film recently had its world premiere at Toronto and went on to screen at Abu Dhabi and Mumbai film festivals. Leading sales agent Fortissimo acquired rights to Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus and Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, both part of WIP Lab 2011. Mumbai Cha Raja was picked up by Paris and Hong Kong-based All Rights Entertainment.

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‘The Viewing Room’ helps fund, sell, get partners

The Viewing Room, a showcase of the latest in Indian cinema, turned out be a huge success. Films seeking finishing funds, sales and distribution partners could be viewed on individual computer terminals in private booths. Film Bazaar also introduced Industry Screenings in digital theatres at the venue for filmmakers to show and pitch their films to a select audience of sales agents, distributors, producer and festival programmers. A program of lectures and panel discussions called NFDC Knowledge Series was also introduced.

The role of Film Bazaar isn’t confined within the four walls of Goa Marriott Resort. Through its tie-ups, it helps Indian filmmakers get international exposure. Four projects from Film Bazaar are selected for Rotterdam Lab organised by Cinemart, one for Independent Filmmaker Project and one for Dubai Film Market. Film Bazaar also promotes talented Indian directors at premier film festivals abroad. In 2011, six directors were promoted at Cannes: Anurag Kashyap, Anusha Rizvi, Dibakar Banerjee, Haobam Paban Kumar, Laxmikant Shetgaonkar and Sekhar Kammula. “It was helpful to understand how the international market works,” says Manipur-based filmmaker Haobam Paban Kumar.
Anurag Kashyap

Film Bazaar organizes world exposure

Haobam Paban Kumar

NFDC has extended this initiative to other festivals like Toronto, Berlin and Busan. It helps Indian filmmakers set up meetings at whichever festival they are. This year a mini co-production market was held at the India Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival which provided participating filmmakers another opportunity to engage with international collaborators.

Film Bazaar has not just brought Indian and international filmmakers to a common platform, it has also emerged as a bridge between Indian mainstream cinema and independent filmmakers. Major Bollywood producers such as Eros International, UTV Motion Pictures, Viacom18 and Warner Brothers have been regular at Film Bazaar besides independent producers such as Anurag Kashyap Films Pvt Ltd, Bohra Bros Production Pvt Ltd, Dibakar Banerjee Productions Pvt Ltd and Jar Pictures. Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl in Yellow Boots, which was in Co-production Market 2008, was co-produced by NFDC and Viacom18. Similarly, Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai participated in Co-production Market 2010 and was co-produced by PVR Pictures and NFDC. Now in its sixth year, Film Bazaar has started showing results in the form of notable co-production and distribution deals struck for South Asian films recently. It has emerged as a platform which the international film community waits for enthusiastically.

Film Bazaar: A bridge to the world

Dibakar Banerjee

“For the first time in the Indian industry, a structured event is organized that allows Indian filmmakers and foreign professionals to meet and develop fruitful bonds in a very concrete way. As a festival representative, it is definitely the place where you can see the best to come from Indian filmmakers,” says Christian Jeune, Director, Films, Cannes Film Festival.

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Still: 'Gandu'