National Film Development Corporation Set First-Ever India Pavillion (Cannes 2011)

“We created a planned scheme last year and the I&B Ministry has budgeted $100 million for NFDC,” said joint secretary of India's Ministry of Information & Broadcast of the film org's troubled past.

India’s Ministry of Information & Broadcast (I&B) and its film organization, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) have organized the India Pavilion for the first time this year.

Teaming up with the Ministry of Tourism and its Incredible India campaign, they have been promoting India not just as a tourist destination but also as a collaborative filmmaking destination for global co-productions.

To highlight that theme, the Pavilion has been scheduling networking receptions with delegations from countries such as Australia, Canada, Israel, France and Qatar.

D.P. Reddy, joint secretary of the I&B Ministry, explained that NFDC's financially troubled past is now turning a corner. “We created a planned scheme last year and the I&B Ministry has budgeted $100 million for NFDC,” he said. About $25 million of its budget is targeted for digital production, and NFDC has a stable of filmmakers, as well as emerging talent, who can access the fund.

Shining the spotlight on new filmmakers, the India Pavilion also hosted the Film Bazaar cocktail reception showcasing six directors on the forefront of the new Hindi-Indie cinema. Among them were Anurag Kashyap (producer of Udaan which screened in last year’s Un Certain Regard 2010), Anusha Rizvi (Peepli Live, India's entry in the foreign language category in the 2010 Oscar race), Dibakar Banerjee, Haobam Paban Kumar, Laxmikant Shetgaonkar and Sekhar Kammula.

Blazing the Hindi-Indie trail, director Kashyap is now taking on the producer's mantle and developing young talent under his Anurag Kashaypa Films banner.

“Its easy to raise money now, people trust my judgement,” said the director of such films as Black Friday and Dev.D. Admiting that he is still learning the ropes as a producer, he added that he is fortunate to have a good team. “I look at content, approve the director and casting,” he said.

Kashyap has the support of Viacom 18 -- the company will release five of his films this year: The Girl in Yellow Boots, which will be released in India only; Michael, Shaitan and Gangs of Wasseypur are scheduled for international release. Wasseypur, a seven-hour rural gangster saga will be released in two parts. Produced at $5 million, it is the most expensive Hindi indie film to be made with a non-star cast.

Audiences in both cities and rural areas are ready for smaller independent films, both Kashyap and Rizvi areed. Last year, they said, some big Bollywood films flopped, while moviegoers embraced smaller movies, Rizvi explained. “We want to go back to our own story-telling and no longer want to do Hollywood remakes," she added.

Her film, Peepli Live, a political satire set in a rural setting did well in India's urban and rural regions, although, she noted wryly, rural audiences saw it on pirated DVDs.