Locarno, where independent Indian filmmakers rise and shine

August 9th, 2011 - 2:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Locarno (Switzerland), Aug 9 (IANS) As many as 12 independent filmmakers are in the spotlight at the 64th Locarno International Film Festival. From networking to meeting co-producers to having access to Western audiences, the event is providing them a platform to turn their scripts into movies at the Open Doors section.

“What we are trying to do is to provide access to independent filmmakers to cooperation partners in Western European and other countries. We have sort of pitching exercises where they have an opportunity to present the film,” Martin Dahinden, director general of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, told this visiting IANS correspondent.

“We are organising a lot of contacts with film producers, TV stations, foundations… the networking is most important and we are hoping that those who are coming with their scripts … their scripts one day become a film. This programme supports film production and young people entering the film business and every year we have new guests,” he added.

He said Bollywood is well known and Hindi films are consumed to some extent in Switzerland; “so it would not make sense to bring those films at the festival”.

The ongoing Open Doors Co-Production Lab, which started Saturday, is trying to assist the directors and producers in finding co-production partners for select films - Ajay Raina’s “Aharbal Falls”, Natasha Mendonca’s “Ajeeb Aashiq”, Partho Sen-Gupta’s “Arunoday”, Alka Raghuram’s “Burqa Boxers”, Sourav Sarangi’s “Char, The Island Within”, Satish Manwar’s “Jat Panchayat”, Anup Singh’s “Lasya”, Sidharth Srinivasan’s “Samaadhi”, Vasant Nath’s “Sebastian Wants To Remember”, Shanker Raman’s “The Trapper’s Snare”, Lilium Leonard’s “Thread” and Ashish Avikunthak’s “Vidhvastha”.

At the end of the four-day Lab, a jury will award a prize of 39,000 euros, financed by the Open Doors initiative, with the participation, for the first time this year, of the City of Bellinzona.

Renewing its collaboration with Open Doors, the CNC (Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animee, France) will offer a further prize of 7,000 euros to support development. Also this year the International Relations ARTE Prize worth 6,000 euros has been renewed.

“This is something very unique with India - it has a very strong film industry, so you would find everything you need to make professional cinema. But even so, like Europe and like in the United States you have a whole scene of independent cinema,” Dahinden told IANS, adding their role is not to go into film production but to bring people together.

Marco Solari, president of the Locarno Film Festival, said “chronologically speaking it is the second film festival” and since its inception it has been supporting young independent filmmakers who want to say something.

“First was the Venice film festival that came in 1932 and second was Locarno, which started in 1946 - it was a festival of protest, critic, young, free, and Locarno has always privileged independent films, which have something to say, young people who want to say things…. Locarno film festival gives a voice to those who couldn’t express themselves.”

Even after 64 years, the function of Locarno is a free independent film festival with no pressure from nowhere, he added.

“There is no political pressure and no pressure from sponsors. There is one condition to be partner in Locarno and the condition is never interfere in the programme,” said Solari who enjoyed watching “Lagaan”, which saw a full house when screened at Piazza Grande here.

Alice Thomann, responsible for culture and development at the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, said: “At Open Doors a prize is given to one of the 12 products that are evaluated.

“We also support as the Swiss agency for Development Cooperation funds that provide post-production support to filmmakers from all over the world. And what is important is the amount should go directly to filmmakers and producers. There are no conditions that part of that money has to be spent in Switzerland.”

(Arpana can be contacted at arpana.s@ians.in)

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