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The ninth edition of the Indian government body National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar will again focus on promoting India’s emerging indie scene to potential international buyers, producers and festival curators.
First-time foreign delegates expected this year include reps from Focus Features, Magnolia Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Films and Shoreline Entertainment in addition to returning participants, such as Fortissimo and Filmbuff. Festival curators include Cannes film department director Christian Jeune and Paolo Bertolin, the South-East and Asia Pacific selector for the Venice International Film Festival.
As in the past, Film Bazaar includes various programs, from a script workshop to a producer’s lab, where selected projects reflecting India’s emerging indie scene are mentored by various experts, such as Beijing International Film Festival chief advisor Marco Muller. He was earlier artistic director at the Rome, Venice and Locarno festivals.
The Bazaar also aims to connect potential producers, both domestic and foreign, with projects given this genre of films has been making waves on the festival circuit while attracting some buyer attention.
Past Bazaar projects have included acclaimed breakout The Lunchbox, which was eventually picked up at Cannes in 2013 by Sony Pictures Classics for North America. Other Bazaar-mentored projects include India’s Oscar entry Court and 2014’s Oscar entry The Good Road.
With catalog titles including Senna and Exit Through the Gift Shop, Filmbuff sales agent Scott Kaplan told THR: “As global audiences are even more culturally connected (largely through social media) we are seeing relevant films like Banksy Does New York, resonate with audiences all over the world… It stands to reason that India, a country with an incredibly rich history in content creation, will become even more integral to this globalization trend.”
Another returning participant, New York-based Paladin Film, has experience in U.S. distribution for a variety of Indian films. Though not sourced from the Bazaar, these include Bollywood title Kites, Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and, currently, India’s Daughter. The controversial BBC documentary banned by the Indian government has just completed a theatrical run in New York and L.A. to qualify for the Academy Award documentary feature category. As earlier reported, Meryl Streep has said that the film, about the fatal gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi in 2012, deserves an Oscar.
Explaining that there’s more to Indian cinema than Bollywood, Paladin buyer Mark Urman told THR: “There are more and more Indian independent films that are beautiful slices of life — normal length, no musical numbers, real stories and situations. They are as good as foreign language films from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and international audiences, especially in the U.S., should start seeing more of these movies.”
NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta added that the Bazaar “hopes to continue finding good quality projects with an eye towards commercial viability. We still have a long way to go but you can see the growth in the past and we’d like to see that grow further.”
Among the participating projects at the Bazaar this year are Raj Rish More’s Pirates, which sees The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra turning producer via his new banner Poetic License Motion Pictures. Acclaimed actress, filmmaker and former Cannes jury member Nandita Das will promote her new project Manto. And Kanu Behl, whose directorial debut Titli premiered in the 2014 Cannes Un Certain Regard program, will present his new project Agra.
The Film Bazaar runs Nov. 20-Nov. 24 in Goa.