Pickle September 2021 Toronto Film Festival Edition

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INSIDE

Geoff Macnaughton Senior Director, Industry & Theatrical

STORIES

STORIES

Anurag Singh Thakur Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports Government of India

TIFF Makes A Strong Comeback

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Seamless Filming Now A Reality In India

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Envisioning Growth of Indian M&E

TIFF: Giving Global Stage to India’s Only Media BIZ magazine for the world Indian Films and Talent www.pickle.co.in


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10 Must Watch Films At TIFF

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The Cameron Bailey Effect

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Making A Song And Dance Of It Understanding Indian  Cinema’s www.pickle.co.in 7 India’s Only Media BIZ magazine for the world Global Appeal And ‘Soft Power’


fro m t he editor

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e are happy to present the latest issue of Pickle for the delegates at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival and sales and industry representatives. TIFF is unarguably the biggest festival and market in North America.

Celebrating A Decade Of Pickle@Toronto

origin reside. There is always an audience that is eager to watch Indian cinema. Read Saibal Chatterjee’s story on how TIFF has been giving global stage to Indian filmmakers and talent. “The festival has helped many Indian independent filmmakers find a doorway to global acclaim. Especially over the last 25 years, North America’s premier film festival, while continuing to embrace mainstream Bollywood cinema keeping in mind the predilections of the south Asian audience in multi-cultural Toronto, has proven to be a wonderful platform for Indian directors crafting films of a different timbre,” says Saibal.

For India, and now increasingly to South Asia, Toronto has become a hub for discovery of talent. Toronto is a great place to be in, especially for young Indian filmmakers who are visibly changing the face of Indian cinema. Being discovered in Toronto A BIG THANKYOU TO ALL OUR READERS, opens them a new path to ADVERTISERS AND WELL-WISHERS their cinematic techniques www.pickle.co.in and excellence. Toronto In the challenging times leads the global film of Covid-19, we have focused the festival outfits to bring into limelight spotlight on India as a window of excellence and best minds in Indian opportunity to the world. While cinema. filming has come to a standstill, This year three Indian films are animation, VFX and gaming are being screened at TIFF, including getting traction in the media and Payal Kapadia’s A Night of entertainment verticals. Knowing Nothing, the Critics Week title that scooped up the Cannes Film Festival’s prize for the best documentary film, sound designer Nithin Lukose’s gripping Malayalam drama Paka: River of Blood and Ritwik Pareek’s piercing social satire Dug Dug. Over the last two decades, Toronto has selected over 70 Indian films. Toronto looks for films that reflect the Indian sensibility in their making. TIFF audience -- unlike in any other major film festival -- is in the city of Toronto itself, where over 600,000 people of Indian

With one billion mobile subscribers, 600 million plus smartphone users, 720 million Internet subscribers, 850 TV channels, 1,800 films produced annually, 100,000 newspapers and periodicals and over 50 OTT platforms, India’s vibrant M&E industry provides attractive growth opportunities for global and domestic corporations. The government’s policies are geared towards realizing the full potential of this growing sector.

n vidyasagar pickle media nat@pickle.co.in, www.pickle.co.in Pickle Volume XV 9th Edition Published by Pickle Media Private Limited Email: natvid@gmail.com l Mumbai l Chennai No.2, Habib Complex Dr Durgabhai Deshmukh Road RA Puram CHENNAI 600 028

Editorial Coordinators : M Sai Design: Sunil, Kitcha, Jose, Julie Photo Editor : K K Laskar Email: natvid@gmail.com

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Pickle Business Guide 2021 Copyright 2021 by Pickle Media Pvt Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Pickle is an ad supported business guide tracking the filmed entertainment business in India.

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Celebrating A Decade Of Pickle@Toronto

A BIG THANKYOU TO ALL OUR READERS, ADVERTISERS AND WELL-WISHERS 9

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TIFF Makes A Strong Comeback

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It’ s time for TIFF 2021. Geoff Macnaughton, Senior Director, Industry & Theatrical, TIFF, talks about the lessons learnt from last year’s Toronto and the plans for this year’s event. With over 100 market titles on offer, the organizers are excited that they just have a lot of content available for buyers to purchase and distribute in their regions. Also, there will be sessions with veterans and decision makers www.pickle.co.in India’s Only Media BIZ magazine for the world


How has the TIFF Industry and festival shaped? We’re excited that our official selection is back to over 100 films. Last year, we had stripped down a number of films. And I think the film programmers have done a fantastic job in terms of ensuring that there’s a really strong curated list of titles. We also have our industry select titles back again this year, about which we’re really happy. We have the film Shankar’s Fairies as part of Industry Selects from India. There are over 100 market titles on offer. And I think what we learned from last year’s festival is that we hit record breaking numbers in relation to the value of sales that happened at TIFF even with fewer films. And now that we have a lot of new content , especially with industry selects and market titles, we’re excited that we just have a lot of content available for buyers to purchase and distribute in their regions. I think the big difference between this year and last year is that we do expect a percentage of the industry to come in person. And we are creating benefits and opportunities for industry who are able to attend based on borders reopening and having the necessary vaccinations. As borders are open, TIFF will be open to international professionals.

Will global delegates have digital access to industry and films? We continue the momentum of last year’s digital experience, we heard a lot of good things about our digital platform and our digital offering.

What are the challenges in putting together TIFF 2021? I think last year was a great test for us in terms of our ability to continue to be nimble. We need to be flexible in these times and react to the needs of the industry. In a time of so many unknowns, it’s really about

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ensuring that the decisions you’re making continue to meet your overall mission, and then you’re not diverting from those goals. And so it’s really about opening those lines of communication internally, across all levels within the organization. And, it takes a lot of energy, time and commitment. But in the end, it’s very much worth it in terms of ensuring that what we deliver makes sense for our audiences.

What will be the talking points at the TIFF Industry sessions and Talent development? This is a pivotal moment in the industry. TIFF Industry Conference will spotlight creators, filmmakers and industry professionals who are actively working towards a safer, more inclusive and equitable industry, with sessions exploring the creative process, collaboration for better representation, behavioural standards and policies, equitable hiring practices, and diverse voices in film criticism. Removing barriers for creators, storytellers, and performers so that they can continue developing their voice and realizing their vision is a key part of TIFF’s mission. Our Talent Development programmes provide carefully curated labs, access to resources, and financial support to help accelerate the careers of filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors refining their craft in tangible ways. This has always been our hope and a big part of our mission. Our Talent Development programs, Filmmakers Lab and Rising Stars program will be done fully digital this year. So we have an amazing selection of Visionaries, Conversations, Dialogues, and Perspectives, as well as a new section in our conference called Connections, which will allow filmmakers more direct access to key decision makers. There’s a great range of talks that will be exclusively digital.

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TIFF INDUSTRY FOCUS The six-day event, TIFF Industry will take place from September 9–14

It will inspire and incite discussions for creative and business entrepreneurship

Visionaries conference, offers inspirational sessions with prominent individuals who are forging new creative and business pathways in the industry

Dialogues will take the shape of intimate conversations on craft between creators, including directors, actors, writers, show runners

Micro sessions are curated discussions that highlight new technologies and new ways of doing business

TIFF continue with Share Her Journey’s talent development initiatives

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This year’s Industry Conference, including Filmmaker Lab and Rising Stars, will be online to accredited professionals

Perspectives features moderated and focused discussions on the current state and future of the industry in relation to the panelists’ area of expertise

Spotlights highlight talent, incentives, and pitches from around the globe; and, new this year

Connections are sessions for emerging to mid-career filmmakers to interact with experts and gain practical knowledge to move their projects, as well as their understanding of the industry, forward

For TIFF’s closing Industry Conference session , Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi will speak about fleeing her home country, and how global film community can support and care for Afghan artists

Celebrating its 10th year, the TIFF Rising Stars programme provides up-andcoming actors with an exclusive opportunity to experience and engage with the Festival

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SPOTLIGHT AT

TIFF

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INDIA

INDIA BY

TV Internet Films Produced Channels Connections

1800 850 720mn

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BILLION PEOPLE 14

INDIA THE WORLD’S AUDIO VISUAL FACTORY

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OPPORTUNITY

NUMBERS Smart Phones

OTT PLATFORMS

600mn

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Fastest Growing Audio Visual Market in the World Ease of Doing Business 100% FDI in Film, TV, Animation, Gaming, Sectors Excellence in Entertainment Services Massive Digitizaiton Champion Sector Technology Expertise 15

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BILLION MOBILE PHONES

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Anurag Singh Thakur Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports Government of India

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If we could tell stories that project new India and its products through our media, it will support our allied industries www.pickle.co.in India’s Only Media BIZ magazineand for thesectors world


INDIA’S NEW MINISTER of INFORMATION & BROADCASTING

Envisioning

Growth of Indian M&E

Meet Anurag Singh Thakur, the young Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports who exuberates an air of confidence in the idea of new India, has expressed his vision for India’s media and entertainment industry on various platforms

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firm believer in India’s potential in original content creation as well as job creation in vernacular language production, even before taking charge as the Union Minister of I&B, Anurag Singh Thakur did not mince words when he stressed at FICCI Frames 2020 that Indian M&E sector should “build an ecosystem that nurtures talent and growth” by unlocking the “potential of original content creation, simultaneous job creation and investment in the vernacular language segment of the entertainment industry”. 46-year-old Anurag Singh Thakur took charge as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the aftermath of the mega cabinet reshuffle of the Narendra Modi government in July 2021. In addition to I&B, Anurag Singh Thakur has also been appointed as the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister. He previously served as the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs (31st May 2019 to 7th July 2021). He is a 4th term Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha/Lower House) from Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh. According to him, original content creation presents immense opportunities for growth and could bridge the divide between Bollywood and Hollywood. He also believes that India has the potential to create “creative incubators that identify and groom talent in graphic design, sound animation and visual effects,” and capture its fair share

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of global visual effects, animations, graphics and sound market. Acknowledging transformation of the Indian animation sector, he said there’s still a lot of scope for improvement. He called for the media and entertainment industry to champion the cause of Atmanirbhar Bharat. “If we could tell stories that project new India and its products through our media, it will support our allied industries and sectors,” Thakur said. “It is a known fact that our media drives consumer choices and consumerism. Can we project our soft power such as Yoga, Ayurveda, ancient medicine, science, performing arts, crafts, textiles, and so on through our M&E platforms? I think there is a huge potential to showcase India’s soft power. I think this is an opportunity for all of us,” he added. On the opportunities arising for creating employment and growth in the digital media sector, he said, “If we look at the last three years, we have seen a sea change as far as the digital media is concerned. With the use of technology, we have increased our reach in remote areas also. Even elderly people are not hesitant in using various digital platforms. This has provided a lot of opportunity.” Anurag Singh Thakur is an avid sports lover and has contributed immensely to sports in the capacity of a sports administrator. He has served as the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

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IFFI Invites Committed to continue spreading the Joy of Cinema, the 52nd edition of International Film Festival of India invites delegates participating in Toronto International Film Festival from all over the world

For A Gala

Show In Goa 18

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Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its preeminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. It has over the years witnessed numerous alterations in character, nomenclature, location, dates and duration

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he 52nd edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI), slated to be held in a hybrid format from 20 to 28 November 2021 in Goa, looks all set to offer enthralling experience to delegates who are expected to join its physical as well as virtual segments showcasing 300+ screenings during the festival days. Extending a warm welcome to delegates participating in Toronto Film Festival, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur took to his Twitter handle recently and invited filmmakers and film enthusiasts from around the globe to be a part of IFFI in Goa."Calling out to Filmbuffs! Delegate registration for 52nd edition of IFFI is now open! Inviting filmmakers and film enthusiasts from around the world to be a part of IFFI in Goa," tweeted. Among the many highlights and innovations planned during 52nd IFFI include a parallel fest dedicated to the cinema from BRICS member countries and screening of some

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of the best works of legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray as part of his centenary celebrations. “BRICS film festival to be organised along with the 52nd International Film Festival of India in Goa in November this year will be an opportunity to interact and share the best of cinema,” said Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra. This year, the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award has been added to the list of awards conferred upon filmmakers from across the globe to recognise their contributions to world cinema. Lifetime Achievement Award was already there and it has now been renamed after the legendary filmmaker to mark his centenary. Indian Film Personality of the Year Award, Centenary Award for best debut film of a Director, and ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Award are the names of some of the other awards, besides the Awards for International Competition that will be given away to deserving filmmakers.

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A special webpage has been set up where works of Ray and different aspects of filmmaking by the maestro have been put together. As far as restoration of Ray's films is concerned, the Directorate of Film Festivals has collaborated with people who have restored the master filmmaker’s works that would be showcased at the festival. So far, the Directorate has received over 600 films from 95 countries and selections will be unveiled shortly. This year, IFFI will feature at least 16 sections including International Competition, Festival Kaleidoscope, World Panorama, Retrospective of Masters, Country Focus, Retrospective of Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Indian Panorama among others. To allay fears regarding spread of COVID-19 during the festival, Chaitanya Prasad, Additional Director General, Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information &

Broadcasting and Festival Director of IFFI had earlier said that IFFI team would ensure that "every guest who comes to India becomes IFFI's responsibility the moment he steps on the Indian soil".

IFFI not only unveils the best films from around the multilingual country with the aim of providing a glimpse of the sheer range and dynamism of Indian cinema, it also puts together a remarkable slate of brand new world cinema titles

52nd IFFI Highlights • IFFI will showcase around 300+ screenings during festival days • IFFI will have various sections ranging from World Panorama, where films from across the world will be showcased, to Festival Kaleidoscope, International, Debut and ICFT Competition sections, retrospectives, homage, special screenings. • This edition will also have Master Frames (focusing on renowned cinematographers across the world), Masters of Cinema (focusing on master filmmakers across the world), sports section, Bharat ka Amrit Mahotsav, focus on cinema from BRICS countries, Soul of Asia (focusing on the films of Asia) as major highlights of the festival. • IFFI will have its own virtual platform for delegates to sit back and enjoy the festival from their living rooms. The virtual platform will provide access to registered delegates to watch all the films on the platform at any given time as per their convenience, they can also access live streaming of Masterclasses and In-Conversation sessions, workshops and special events during the festival days. • The live streaming of opening and closing ceremony can also be watched from home on virtual platform as also on social media platforms.

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Sunrise in Goa Could any film festival venue be more inviting than salubrious Goa? No two ways about it. The host city of IFFI, the hospitable Indian state with some of the finest beaches is the best place to be during IFFI

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NFDC’S Film Bazaar

(Online November 20-25, 2021) • Many of the subcontinent’s most applauded, well-travelled contemporary films and festival films have taken shape – and wings – on National Film Development Corporation’s Film Bazaar platform that has made mentoring and networking facilities available to emerging filmmakers. • As an incubator of new film projects in India and the rest of the subcontinent, the NFDC Film Bazaar, now in its 15th year, has rendered yeoman service by engendering an eco-system that allows originality to thrive while not losing sight of tried and tested ground rules that have proven beneficial.

"We had created systems last year, and there is no cause of worry if international participants are landing at airports in cities like Kolkata, Mumbai or Delhi. There we have appointed teams to look after them because it is our responsibility that guests come to India hassle free, enjoy the flavor of IFFI and go back contented and satisfied," he added. IFFI's theme has been "Joy of Cinema", which is something that overrides any firewall, as the creative construct of IFFI is wired to get the best of cinema from across the world. The preparations for the 52nd edition of the IFFI have begun in full swing and some big names in the world cinema are expected to be part of it. Being planned as a hybrid event due to Covid-19, the festival would screen films on its official digital platform along with the theatrical screenings in Goa, which is subject to the prevailing conditions. Asia’s oldest event of its kind, IFFI still holds on to its pre-eminent position as a showcase of cinematic excellence. It has over the years witnessed numerous alterations in character, nomenclature, location, dates and duration. Through it all, it has remained steadfast in its emphasis on showcasing the

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diversity of Indian cinema as well as in its commitment to the celebration of excellence across moviemaking genres. Over the past two and a half decades, several other international film festivals have sprung up across India, notably in Kolkata, Kerala and Mumbai, and they all contribute meaningfully to the collective task of taking quality cinema to people weaned principally on a staple diet of star-driven, song and dance extravaganzas. But IFFI continues to retain its preeminent position owing to its size, scope and vintage.

The Indian Panorama, a section that is made up of both features and non-features, opens global avenues for films made by veterans and newcomers alike

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Not just in the Indian context but also in relation to the other major Asian film festivals, IFFI matters. And this is despite all the inevitable ups and downs that it has seen over the years. All the other major Asian festivals – Tokyo, Busan and Shanghai – are of far more recent origin and therefore lack the history that is associated with IFFI. IFFI hands out prize money to the tune of US$ 200,000. The winner of the Golden Peacock for the best film takes home $80,000. That apart, the best director and the Special Jury Prize winner bag $30,000 each, while the two acting prizes come with a cash component of $20,000 each. The moves to push IFFI up a few notches have unfolded since the coastal state of Goa became its permanent venue in 2004. IFFI now has a far more settled feel than ever before, with each improvement in terms of infrastructure and programming initiatives adding value to both the event and the location. On the programming side, IFFI not only unveils the best films from around the multilingual country with the aim of providing a glimpse of the sheer range and dynamism of

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Indian cinema, it also puts together a remarkable slate of brand new world cinema titles. IFFI also hosts many retrospectives, tributes, master classes and special sections, which enhance the variety and depth of the event. The master classes have emerged as a highlight of the festival, especially for film school students who converge in Goa during the ten-day event.

Six decades on, IFFI continues to provide a useful platform to young Indian filmmakers who work outside the mainstream distribution and exhibition system and in languages that do not have access to the panIndian market that Hindi cinema has

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FFO AT TIFF

Seamless

Filming now a Reality in India In an effort to reach out to the filming fraternity across the globe, the FFO website www.ffo.gov.in has made the single window clearance for filming in India a reality. It helps international and domestic producers cut through the permission process required to shoot films in India

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aying a red carpet for global producers and studios as part of its mandate to promote India as a filming destination, the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) has set up a web portal, www.ffo.gov.in, which provides all filming related information on a single platform. Having been set up as a single window clearance system for granting mandatory filming permissions from Central and State governments, the portal also lists out all important guidelines and advisories for both international and Indian filmmakers. Whether it is accessing information related to filming, or understanding the processes of international arrivals, visa issuance, or application for quarantine exemption request, it’s all easily accessible to filmmakers at the click of a button.

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Applying online for filming in India through the portal is an absolute breeze. Once a filmmaker applies through the portal, there is an automatic transmission of information to all the nodal agencies. The web portal has information regarding the Nodal officers of all Indian States and Union Territories, along with their filming policies and guidelines. Besides enabling online submission of applications for filmmakers, the portal also enlists India’s co-production treaties. It disseminates information on India’s various shooting locations across all the States (each location having detailed information relevant to that particular location) and lists facilities available with the Indian film industry for postproduction, animation and VFX.

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Newsletter from the Film Facilitation Office

www.ffo.gov.in ABOUT US

PERMISSIONS

LOCATIONS

FILMING IN INDIA

CO-PRODUCTIONS

PRODUCTION DIRECTORY

CONTACT US

July - August 2021

N e w s l e t t e r

Unlock your Narrative. Come home to your imagination.

The layout of the website has been kept simple with all information neatly organised under each subhead. For example, if you are an international filmmaker, production house or a domestic filmmaker seeking permissions for shooting there are separate step-by-step guidelines under Permissions tab, which also has online application, and guidelines about aerial filming, filming with animals, application for filming visa and temporary import of filming equipment. Applying through the FFO portal has never been easier. It requires the applicant to sign up with selfgenerated user name and password to create an account, and start an incredible journey on one of the most user-friendly websites anywhere in the world for obtaining filming permissions with FFO by their side at every step of the way to guide them through all the nitty-gritty associated with filming in India. After completing the registration process and uploading all documents in digital format, such as detailed script, synopsis.or concept, passport details of the crew,, details of shooting locations in India and period of shooting, etc, a nominal application fee is required to submit the application. Post receiving the National Permission from the Ministry of I&B for filming in India, you may submit the application for specific location permission in the various States of India. Thereafter, the FFO connects the applicant with the concerned Nodal officer of the various States/ Central government departments

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and agencies to help filmmakers realise their celluloid dreams. The website also allows for producers both international and domestic to apply for Recce permissions in any location under State or Central Government. The FFO, which became operational in 2016, has since assisted several international and domestic productions to complete their projects (Feature Films, Reality TV shows and/or Commercial TV Serials) in India. The portal bears a testimony to its proactive approach towards strengthening filming ecosystem in India by helping filmmakers link with shooting locations as well as the talent, resources and facilities available within the Indian Film industry for production and postproduction. Rest assured you are in good hands.

The ffo web portal (www.ffo.gov.in) has information regarding the Nodal officers of all Indian States and Union Territories, along with their filming policies and guidelines. Besides enabling online submission of applications for filmmakers, the portal also enlists India’s coproduction treaties

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India@Toronto

TIFF and

Indian

Indies

go back a long way Serving as a launching platform for many Indian filmmakers in the past, the 46th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) continues to live up to our expectations by showcasing three Indian feature-length films by first-time directors By Saibal Chatterjee 26

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2021

2021

a night of knowing nothing Directed by Payal Kapadia

Paka: River of Blood

Directed by Nithin Lukose

2021

dug dug Directed by Ritwik Pareek

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he 46th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which retains the hybrid format that was necessitated in 2020 by a rampaging pandemic, has three Indian feature-length films by first-time directors in an expanded programme that has significantly more titles and in-person screenings than last year. Besides Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing, the Critics Week title that scooped up the Cannes Film Festival’s prize for the best documentary film – the Golden Eye – this year, TIFF will premiere sound designer Nithin Lukose’s gripping Malayalam drama Paka: River of Blood and Ritwik Pareek’s piercing social satire Dug Dug. While the epistolary A Night of Knowing Nothing is part of the festival’s Wavelengths section devoted to avant-garde cinematic works that experiment with forms and genres, Paka and Dug Dug are screening in Discovery, a selection, as the name suggests, aimed unearthing new talent from across the world. A Night of Knowing Nothing, the FTII-trained Kapadia’s first feature, centres on a university student who writes letters to her estranged lover, revealing through a collage of recollections, personal impressions and experiences the political realities of contemporary India. Paka and Dug Dug, too, each in its own unique way, provide an insight into today’s India. The former deals with an inter-generational feud between two families in Lukose’s native Wayanad district, against a long history migration and dislocation within the state of Kerala. Dug Dug, set in Rajasthan, where Pareek grew up before moving to Mumbai, examines the nature of faith and its manifestations in a nation of multiple systems of religious belief. It revolves around an alcoholic man who dies in a gruesome accident while riding his motorcycle in a drunken state. As one strange event leads to another in the aftermath of the tragedy, the deceased turns into the focal point of a rapidly growing religious cult.

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1981

The Chess Players Directed by Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) was the first Indian Film Screened at TIFF in 1981. (Classic Comedy Section)

Unearthing new talent is a purpose TIFF has served without fail over the years. The festival has helped many Indian independent filmmakers find a doorway to global acclaim. Especially over the last 25 years, North America’s premier film festival, while continuing to embrace mainstream Bollywood cinema keeping in mind the predilections of the south Asian audience in multi-cultural Toronto, has proven to be a wonderful platform for Indian directors crafting films of a different timbre. Let us cast our minds back to 2001. Twenty years ago, Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the first Indian film to bag the coveted prize since Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito (The Unvanquished), the second part of the master’s iconic Apu trilogy. Monsoon Wedding also played in TIFF Galas, a line-up that was obviously locked way before the Venice awards were announced. It was the year of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Oscar-nominated Lagaan, which, too, was part of the TIFF line-up in 2001 alongside Pan Nalin’s Samsara and cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan’s Asoka. Both Nalin and Sivan have had other films in the festival. Incidentally, Everybody Says I’m Fine, the first film directed by Mumbai actor Rahul Bose, also made the TIFF cut that year. Nalin was back in the TIFF mix in 2013 with the Kumbh Mela documentary Faith Connections and in 2015 with the feminist drama Angry India Goddesses, which took home the TIFF People’s Choice First Runner-up Prize. Sivan, on his part, had two early Tamil-language directorial ventures – a suicide-bomber thriller The Terrorist (1998) and the children’s film Malli (1999) – in the festival programme.

Producer - Director Anurag Kashyap holds the record of maximum number of his films screened at TIFF. That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010) Michael (2011) Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) Mukkabaaz (The Brawler, 2017) Manmarziyaan (2018) Paka: River of Blood (2021)

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2012

2001

gangs of wasseypur

Lagaan Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker

Directed by Anurag Kashyap

2001

2001

Asoka

Everybody Says I’m Fine

Directed by Santosh Sivan

2015

Directed by Rahul Bose

1988

Angry India Goddesses

Salaam Bombay

Directed by Pan Nalin

2008

Directed by Mira Nair

2019

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Heaven on Earth

India’s Only Directed by Media Deepa Mehta

The Sky is Pink

BIZ magazine for the world Directed bywww.pickle.co.in Shonali Bose


2016

2017

A Death in the Gunj

Village Rockstars

Directed by Konkona Sen Sharma

Directed by Rima Das

Mira Nair’s first film, Salaam Bombay!, travelled to TIFF in 1988 after bagging the Camera d’Or at Cannes, where it premiered in Directors’ Fortnight. She was back at TIFF in 1996 with Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. In 2006, one of her most-loved films, The Namesake, starring Irrfan Khan and Tabu, figured in TIFF. Last year, the festival showcased the BBC series A Suitable Boy, Nair’s adaptation of the Vikram Seth novel. The films by Canadian-Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta that constitute her acclaimed Elements trilogy – Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005) – were all at TIFF. Needless to say, Mehta, who is based in Toronto and was also a member of TIFF’s Board of Directors for several years, has had many of her films, including Bollywood/Hollywood (2002), Heaven on Earth (2008), Midnight’s Children (2012) and Beeba Boys (2015), in the festival programme. Nair and Mehta have led the way for a long line of Indian female directors who have had a sustained and fruitful relationship with TIFF. The festival programmed Shonali Bose’s directorial debut Amu in 2005. The filmmaker’s subsequent films – Margarita, With a Straw (2014), starring Kalki Koechlin, and The Sky is Pink (2019), headlined by Priyanka Chopra Jonas – made their world premieres at TIFF. Actor Konkona Sen Sharma’s brilliant first film as a director – A Death in the Gunj – premiered at TIFF in 2016, while writer-director Bornila Chatterjee’s sophomore effort, The Hungry, a provocative and lively adaptation of the rarely filmed William Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus, bowed at the festival in 2017. The year 2017 also saw Rima Das’ maiden directorial venture, Village Rockstars, being unveiled at TIFF. She was back in Toronto the very next year with Bulbul Can Sing and the year thereafter as part of the festival’s ‘Share Her Journey’ campaign aimed at seeking gender parity in the movie industry.

2018

2018

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The Sweet Requiem

Manto Directed by

www.pickle.co.in India’s Only Nandita Das Directed by Media BIZ magazine for the world Ritu Sarin


In the case of Ritu Sarin, who directs films with Tenzing Sonam, the gap between her first and second trips to TIFF was much longer. Sarin and Tenzing’s first film Dreaming Lhasa premiered in Toronto in 2005. They returned to the festival in 2018 with The Sweet Requiem. Nandita Das’ second film, Manto, was also in TIFF in 2018 after it had world premiered in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, a decade after her directorial debut Firaaq was unveiled for a global audience at 2008 edition of TIFF. In 2019, Gitanjali Rao’s animated feature Bombay Rose played at TIFF. It was the second animated Indian film to make it to the festival after Shilpa Ranade’s Goopy Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya, also a first feature, in 2013. Needless to say, numerous male directors from India have had their first or second films premiered at TIFF. Notable among them are Murali Nair, whose hour long feature Marana Simhasanam (Throne of Death) arrived at TIFF after winning the Cannes Camera d’Or in 1999, Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s Frozen, (2007), Dev Benegal’s Split Wide Open (1999), Aamir Bashir’s Kashmiri film Harud (Autumn, 2010) and Sidharth Srinivasan’s PaironTalle (Soul of Sand, 2010). Goan filmmaker Laxmikant Shetgaonkar’s debut Paltadacho Munis (The Man Beyond the Bridge), a part of TIFF in 2009, won the FIPRESCI Discovery Award. No other Indian film has bagged the prize to date. Vasan Bala’s debut film Peddlers (2012) screened at TIFF as part of the festival’s City to City programme. The film had premiered in May 2012 in Cannes Critics’ Week. The director returned to TIFF in 2018 with Mard Ko Dard NahiHota (The Man Who Feels No Pain), the first Indian film to make it to TIFF’s Midnight Madness. MardKo Dard Nahi Hot a went on to win won the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award, beating high-profile contenders such as David Gordon Green’s Halloween and Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation.

2019

1999

Bombay Rose

Marana Simhasanam

Directed by Gitanjali Rao

Directed by Murali Nair

2013

1999

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Goopy Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya

India’s Only Directed by Media Shilpa Ranade

Split Wide Open

www.pickle.co.in BIZ magazine for the world Directed by Dev Benegal


Vishal Bhardwaj’s second film as director Maqbool, a reimagining of Macbeth, played in TIFF Discovery, while a film that he scripted, Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar, travelled to the festival in 2015. Irrfan Khan, a principal member of the cast of Talvar, was in attendance at the film’s world premiere. In 2013, Irrfan had two films in the TIFF official selection – Anup Singh’s Qissa – The Tale of a Lonely Ghost and Ritesh Batra’s Cannes Critics Week entry The Lunchbox. No discussion about Indian films at TIFF can be complete without a mention of Anurag Kashyap, who has been a regular at the festival since That Girl in Yellow Boots with Kalki Koechlin in the lead, made it to Toronto in 2010. In fact, one of India’s TIFF entries this year, Paka: Throne of Blood, is presented by Kashyap. In 2011, a film produced by Kashyap, Michael, directed by Ribhu Dasgupta and starring Naseeruddin Shah in the titular role of a retired policeman, travelled to TIFF. Kashyap has since travelled to TIFF with Mukkabaaz (The Brawler, 2017) and Manmarziyaan (2018). In 2012, TIFF chose Mumbai as the focus of its City to City programme. Nine titles, including the two parts of Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, made up the selection. The other films screened were Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, Manjeet Singh’s Mumbai Cha Raja, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid, Mohit Takalkar’sA Bright Day, Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai, besides Peddlers. Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar (1997) and Kannathil Muthamittal (A Peck on the Cheek, 2002) screened in TIFF’s Masters section, which has showcased several other Indian filmmakers over the years (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Girish Kasaravalli and Rituparno Ghosh). But the only film by a first-time Tamil director to ever premiere at TIFF is M. Manikandan’s Kakaa Muttai (Crow’s Egg, 2014). The film was co-produced by Dhanush and Vetrimaaran. Another Tamil entry, Suseenthiran’s third film, AzhagarsamiyinKutharai (Azhagarsamy’s Horse), was at TIFF in 2011. Significantly, until Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Geethu Mohandas’s second feature Moothon (The Elder One) premiered in Toronto in 2019, Adoor was the only Malayali filmmaker to be featured at TIFF. Nithin Lukose is the fourth filmmaker from Kerala to make it into the TIFF league.

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2007

2010

Frozen

Harud

Directed by Shivajee Chandrabhushan

Directed by Aamir Bashir

2010

2009

Pairon Talle

Paltadacho Munis

Directed by Sidharth Srinivasan

2018

Directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar

2003

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota

Maqbool Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj

Directed by Vasan Bala

2015

2013

Talvar 33

Directed by Media India’s Only Meghna Gulzar

Qissa Directed bywww.pickle.co.in BIZ magazine for the world Anup Singh


2013

2012

The Lunchbox

The Bright Day

Directed by Ritesh Batra

Directed by Mohit Takalkar

2012

2011

Shanghai

Azhagarsamiyin Kutharai

Directed by Dibakar Banerjee

2012

Directed by Suseenthiran

2012

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Miss Lovely

Ship of Theseus

Directed by Ashim Ahluwalia

Directed by Anand Gandhi

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2002

2014

Kannathil Muthamittal

Kakaa Muttai Directed by M. Manikandan

Directed by Mani Ratnam

2019

2019

Jallikattu

Moothon

Directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery

Directed by Geethu Mohandas

2012

2012

Mumbai Cha Raja

Shahid Directed by Hansal Mehta

Directed by Majeet Singh

2011

1935

Michael 35

Directed by Media India’s Only Ribhu Dasgupta

Hunterwali

Directed bywww.pickle.co.in BIZ magazine for the world Homi Wadia


cameron’s passion for indian cinema

CAMERON BAILEY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CO-HEAD OF THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT INDIA IS THAT, IT IS THE WORLD’S MOST FILM PASSIONATE COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. YOU CAN TALK TO ANYONE IN THIS COUNTRY AND EVERYONE HAS GOT AN OPINION ABOUT FILMS. THIS IS NOT THE CASE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. THIS IS THE CULTURAL NORM. I LOVE MOVIES AND I LOVE TO COME TO THE COUNTRY WHICH LOVES www.pickle.co.in India’s Only Media BIZ magazineMOVIES for the worldTHE MOST


The Bailey Effect I

t was in 2012 that Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-director, was elevated to the post of artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival. It was no coincidence that 2012 was also the year that the festival assembled a package of Mumbai films for its ‘City to City’ section. The London-born Canadian film critic-turned-festival programmer, a longtime supporter of Indian independent cinema, was, until the Coronavirus pandemic interrupted the world’s plans, an annual visitor to the western Indian metropolis, where he would watch films from across the country at NFDC’s Discovery of India Building. Bailey, who is now the co-head of TIFF, has, for two decades or so, been discovering Indian films for audiences in Toronto. Two years before Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) landed in Directors Fortnight in Cannes, TIFF had programmed That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010). Bailey also handpicked Indian films like Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid and Nandita Das’ Firaaq before they were heard of in their country of production. As a programmer, he also celebrated the cinema of Indian masters like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Buddhadeb Dasgupta. Bailey did not, however, shy away from programming mainstream Bollywood movies. Star-studded Hindi films like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Singh is Kingg and Dil Bole Hadippa have figured in TIFF as a result. In recent years, with the likes of Kashyap erasing the difference between social commentary and entertaining stories, the TIFF co-head has had the luxury not to fall back on Bollywood kitsch.

Cameron Bailey has handpicked Indian films like Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid and Nandita Das’ Firaaq before they were heard of in their country of production. As a programmer, he also celebrated the cinema of Indian masters like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Buddhadeb Dasgupta 37

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Top Ten Films to Watch At

TIFF 2 0 2 1

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TIFF PICKS

Belfast Director

Kenneth Branagh Cast Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, Jude Hill Cinematography Haris Zambarloukos Producers Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik, Tamar Thomas Production Companies TKBC

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riter-director Kenneth Branagh has described Belfast as his most personal film to date. It indeed is. Belfast, a black-andwhite drama set in the late 1960s, is about a boy and his close-knit workingclass family getting by in turbulent Northern Ireland. While young Jude Hill plays the lead, Dame Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe and Ciaran Hinds play his parents and grandparents. Branagh, one of the world’s most versatile actors, rewinds to his childhood and presents an affecting, delicate portrait of life amid the tumult of the period seen through the eyes of a child discovering music and other forms of self-expression. Belfast is being seen as a film with tremendous Oscar potential.

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TIFF PICKS

Spencer Director

Pablo Larraín Cast Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, Sean Harris Cinematography Claire Mathon Producers Juan De Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Paul Webster, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski Production Companies Komplizen Film, Fabula Pictures, Shoebox Films

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T

alking of the Oscars, one actor who is definitely going to be in the awards season mix is Kristen Stewart. She plays Princess Diana in Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, which pans out over one a Christmas weekend at the humongous Sandringham Estate. The three days out in the country off the Norfolk coast marks a major turning point for one of the most famous women in the world. The Princess of Wales takes a decision that liberates her from the life she had chosen and the price she had to pay over the years for being in the public glare day in and day out. For Stewart, it is a role of a lifetime. She nails it.

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TIFF PICKS

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain Director

Will Sharpe Cast Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones Cinematography Erik Alexander Wilson Producers Guy Heeley, Ed Clarke, Adam Ackland, Leah Clarke Production Companies STUDIOCANAL, Shoebox Films, SunnyMarch, Film4, Amazon Studios International Sales Agent STUDIOCANAL

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I

n Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Benedict Cumberbatch (who is also in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog) plays the eccentric Victorian-era British artist Louis Wain, best known for his surreal paintings of cats. In his advancing years, Wain, a skilled artist who had to support his widowed mother and five younger sisters, grappled with schizophrenia and was confined to mental institutions. Sharpe, who has also co-written the film, gives Cumberbatch all the room he needs to flesh out a vivid figure of great depth and range. He captures the upheavals of Wain’s life with aplomb. The actor brings alive a dynamic life marked by unsettling ups and downs and Sharpe’s directing technique keeps pace with the principal character’s emotional and psychological vicissitudes.

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TIFF PICKS

Benediction Director

Terence Davies Cast Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi, Gemma Jones, Ben Daniels, Kate Phillips, Simon Russell Beale, Jeremy Irvine, Geraldine James Cinematography Nicola Daley Producers Michael Elliott Production Companies EMU Films International Sales Agent Bankside Films

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T

erence Davis, one of Britain’s most accomplished filmmakers, delivers a biographical drama that goes way beyond the limits of the genre. This drama about the life of 20th century English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon mixes sustained solemnity with an immersive visual palette and impressionistic narrative devices. The younger Sassoon, who was decorated as a soldier but raised conscientious objections to the idea of war, is played by Jack Lowden, while the older avatar is portrayed by Peter Capaldi. Davies’ exquisite exploration of heroism and trauma relies more on storytelling that puts what is going in the mind of the protagonist ahead of what is happening around him.

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TIFF PICKS

Huda’s Salon Director

Hany Abu-Assad Cast Ali Suliman, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Manal Awad Cinematography Ehab Assal, Peter Flinckenberg Producers Amira Diab, Mohamed Hefzy, Hany Abu-Assad Production Companies H&A Productions, Film Clinic, MAD Solutions, Lagoonie Film Production, Key Film, Cocoon FIlms International Sales Agent Memento Films International

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O

scar-nominated Palestinian writer-director Hany AbuAssad’s Huda’s Salon is inspired by true events. Shot in Nazareth and Bethlehem in the middle of the pandemic through several disruptions, the film is about a woman whose visit to her West Bank hair salon turns into a nightmare when the owner blackmails her and seeks to paint her into a corner. Huda’s Salon examines the repercussions of occupation on individuals coping with daily challenges in a hostile environment. The film is cast in the mould of a gripping thriller that probes betrayal and danger precipitated by the pressures of constantly living on the edge.

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TIFF PICKS

The Power of the Dog Director

Jane Campion Cast Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi SmitMcPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy Cinematography Ari Wegner Producers Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Roger Frappier Production Companies See-Saw Films, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films International, Brightstar, New Zealand Film Commission, Cross City Films, BBC Films International Sales Agent Cross City Films 44

J

ane Campion returns to the big screen with her first feature since 2009’s Bright Star. The Power of the Dog, an adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, also marks a return to the style and substance of her Oscar and Palme d’Or-winning The Piano. The Power of the Dog is the story of two brothers on a ranch in 192os Montana. Their already fraught relationship is thrown into further disarray when one of them marries a widowed single mother. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers another Oscar-worthy performance as a foul-tempered cowboy with too many unresolved issues for him to be at ease with the world around him. And, of course, Campion is back at the peak of her prowess.

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TIFF PICKS

The Mad Women’s Ball Director

Mélanie Laurent Cast Lou de Laâge, Mélanie Laurent, Emmanuelle Bercot, Benjamin Voisin, Cédric Khan, Lomane De Dietrich, Christophe Montenez, Grégoire Bonnet Cinematography Nicolas Karakatsanis Producers Alain Goldman, Axelle Boucaï Production Companies Légende Films

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P

rolific French actor and director Melanie Laurent brings Victoria Mas’s novel Le bal des folles. World premiering at TIFF, The Mad Women’s Ball is about a 19th century Frenchwoman who is wrongly sent to a mental asylum. She plans to escape from her ordeal with the help of one of the nurses at the institution. The film has Lou de Laage in the lead role as a young, independent woman. The story is from over a hundred year ago and it deals with the birth of psychiatry. Its unflinching exploration of misogyny gives the film contemporary resonance while reminding the audience of the abuses that women have had to face at the hands of those who claim to be healers in a lopsided system that thrives on power and oppression.

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TIFF PICKS

The Survivor Director

Barry Levinson Cast Ben Foster, Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, John Leguizamo, Danny DeVito, Dar Zuzovsky, Saro Emirze Cinematography George Steel Producers Matti Leshem, Aaron L. Gilbert, Barry Levinson, Jason Sosnoff, Scott Pardo Production Companies BRON Studios, New Mandate Films International Sales Agent Endeavor Content, BRON Releasing

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A

nother of the many biopics in the TIFF 2021 selection, Barry Levinson’s The Survivor dramatizes the life and times of Harry Haft, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor who boxed with fellow prisoners simply in order to survive another day. The loser of every bout would be shot while the winner would live to fight another opponent. Haft went on to have a brief but eventful career as a pugilist in post-war Germany and then as a light heavyweight boxer in the US in the late 1940s. Ben Foster infuses the role with disquieting intensity as he brings alive a bruised and battered man who would not give up on life no matter what. The Survivor is as much about American masculinity as a celebration of one man’s will to live against all odds.

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TIFF PICKS

The Forgiven Director

John Michael McDonagh Cast Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, Matt Smith, Saïd Taghmaoui, Christopher Abbott, Ismael Kanater, Caleb Landry Jones, Mourad Zaoui, Abbey Lee, Alex Jennings, Marie-Josée Croze Cinematography Larry Smith Producers Elizabeth Eves, John Michael McDonagh, Trevor Matthews, Nick Gordon Production Companies House of Un-American Activities, Brookstreet Pictures International Sales Agent MadRiver Pictures

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B

ritish filmmaker John Michael McDonagh directs Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain (also in The Eyes of Tammy Faye) in The Forgiven, an adaptation of the Lawrence Osborne novel of the same name. It tells the story of a about-to-divorce couple on their way to a lavish weekend party in Morocco. They accidentally kill a man. It sets off a chain of events that reveals the workings of a privileged class too trapped in their ivory towers to see how damaging their insensitivity and sense of entitlement can be – to themselves and to those they ride roughshod over. A trenchant critique of bourgeois lives enlivened by a clutch of wonderful performances.

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TIFF PICKS

A Banquet Director

Ruth Paxton Cast Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes, Kaine Zajaz, Lindsay Duncan Cinematography David Liddell Producers Leonora Darby, Mark Lane, Nik Bower, James Harris, Laure Vaysse Production Companies Tea Shop Productions, Riverstone Pictures, Rep Productions 8 Limited International Sales Agent Hanway Films

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I

n Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Benedict Cumberbatch (who is also in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog) plays the eccentric Victorian-era British artist Louis Wain, best known for his surreal paintings of cats. In his advancing years, Wain, a skilled artist who had to support his widowed mother and five younger sisters, grappled with schizophrenia and was confined to mental institutions. Sharpe, who has also co-written the film, gives Cumberbatch all the room he needs to flesh out a vivid figure of great depth and range. He captures the upheavals of Wain’s life with aplomb. The actor brings alive a dynamic life marked by unsettling ups and downs and Sharpe’s directing technique keeps pace with the principal character’s emotional and psychological vicissitudes.

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Making a song and dance of it  Understanding Indian cinema’s global appeal and ‘soft power’ by Praveen Dass 50

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Rajinikanth fans in Japan

Fans cheering up Shah Rukh Khan

A poster of Sholay

T

o prevent this argument from going soft it’s perhaps best to start with a story, even if it’s an anecdote about an anecdote. Despite having never met the man in question, an acquaintance of mine from Mumbai once recalled how Amitabh Bachchan may have saved his life in the dusty valleys of Afghanistan. The storyteller, an Indian diplomat, who shall we say functions as part of the spear tip of Indian statecraft, was in the Central Asian nation soon after the Taliban’s ouster in 2002 and looking to make contact with a few leaders of the putative Northern Alliance. Suddenly besieged and presented to a different set of warlords he found himself unable to break the ice with them, and was soon gravely informed that they suspected him of being a Pakistani spook, the “enemy” they loathed. That is until he spied a tattered poster of Bachchan’s 1992 hit Khuda Gawah (‘God is the Witness’, a film shot extensively in Afghanistan) in the next room and decided to talk Bollywood -- to immediate excitement among the Afghan warriors. Unable to recall any song from that film, however, he found himself back in the doghouse, until he started belting out ‘Mehbooba, Mehbooba’ from Sholay, the 1975 blockbuster that launched Bachchan to super stardom, and is perhaps the most famous Hindi film west of Amritsar. An agreement was soon concluded and the diplomat found himself warmly escorted back to his base with much fierce debate about the new “Khan ishtars” in Mumbai. The tale might have perhaps grown longer in the telling but there’s no disputing how popular Indian films now are in many parts of the world. Clearly, going soft need not be inopportune. For well over two decades now foreign policy wonks have waxed eloquent about the merits of ‘soft power’ for nations looking to find their places at the global high table. India, with its old civilisation and spiritual customs based on universalist traditions, has always had several cards to play in this game. Indian commercial cinema, with its distinct rhythms, is the latest addition to the pack. As a noted strategic affairs guru puts it: “Bollywood has done more for Indian influence abroad than all the bureaucratic efforts of the government”. But there’s still some way to go, for both industry and creative artists cynically churning out assembly-line movies in the country, and for the state making more concerted efforts to better push what is arguably India’s most exciting export goodie.

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Masala Stardust Much water has flown down the Ganges since earlier generations of Indians were often told of how much Russians loved Raj Kapoor’s cloyingly Chaplinesque tramp from Awara, or of how Dilip Kumar was as much a heartthrob in Lahore and Dhaka as he was in Mumbai. Beyond old ties of cultural kinship in the subcontinent and bilateral arrangements between governments (which saw a handful of Indian films being regularly exported to ‘friendly’ countries like the Soviet Union or Mongolia), Indian cinema has struck out and conquered bold newer frontiers now. Indian superstars like Aishwarya Rai and Aamir Khan regularly walk the red carpet at big film festivals like Cannes, Toronto and Venice and are recognised globally. Southern superstar Rajinikanth was a cultural phenomenon in Japan for a while, where local fans dubbed him ‘Dancing Maharajah” and landed up in exotic Indian costumes for his movie premieres. Bolly superstar Shah Rukh Khan was conferred a high Malaysian state honour which even stirred controversy there with many protesting that local actors were ignored. Several actors also increasingly pop up in the tabloid press when holidaying abroad in the West -- a surer sign of cross-cultural traction than any box-office grosses -- and are now slowly experimenting with taking up meaty roles in films in a more globalised Hollywood. There’s no denying Indian movie stars’ graphs have seen increasingly steep rises from the last decade into this one. If pirated videotapes in the 1980s kick started the revolution, the internet – and its endlessly cyclical streams of video content -- appears to have solidified this reach, taking Indian film to places as far afield as North Africa, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea. In fact there’s a reason Indian film distributors now delay releasing Hindi or Tamil films in many foreign markets, despite the lucrative business many films do there. Most pirated DVDs that land up almost immediately after film premieres on Indian shores come from these places.

Home is where the heart is In briefly analysing this trans-cultural appeal of Indian cinema two major factors must be noted. One, the size, breadth and rising cultural assertiveness of the Indian diaspora across the world has been a factor so huge it’s changed Bollywood in several noteworthy ways. The expatriate Indian’s outsize longing for identity and roots has helped reshape the country’s film trade. The foreign box office (BO) contributes so significantly to big movies in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu that several duds at the local BO actually go on to make profits from the diaspora dollar. Many films now have exclusive premieres in London and New York, unthinkable even a decade and a half ago. Pioneered by filmmakers like Subash Ghai -- who was actually lampooned in the mid 1990s for ‘pandering’ to Non Resident Indian (NRI) audiences -- the size of this market has even led to the content changing in Bollywood. Indian films have got slicker, costlier and are now set in locales across the globe with many actors often playing NRI characters, echoing vaguely NRI concerns.

India, with its old civilisation and spiritual customs based on universalist traditions, has always had several cards to play in this game. Indian commercial cinema, with its distinct rhythms, is the latest addition to the pack

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Aishwarya Rai at Cannes Film Festival

Film markets at festivals worldwide now see sizeable Indian delegations hawking new productions for distributors to pick up or producers to take up. Outside of Bollywood, Tamil film producers now tie-up ‘FMS’ (Foreign, Malaysia, Singapore) rights before they get down to haggling with local distributors about territories and sales, while Telugu producers line up small European and sizeable North American releases for their new films. NRIs, it seems, just can’t get enough of the filmy glamour from their old country in any way possible. Many film stars now earn big bucks from performing at ‘Bollywood Nights’ abroad. These arena shows, staged almost exclusively in countries with large NRI populations, have also proven so lucrative that several stars either long in the tooth back home or relegated to the background now make their money purely from ‘touring’. Business is booming overseas, yet as any big producer, distributor or cultural commentator will tell you, much remains to be done to increase penetration beyond the diaspora. The odd viral video of Europeans doing ‘Bollywood dancing’ for small audiences or weddings with a Bollywood theme are still too few and far between for Indian cinema to be labelled a widespread crossover phenomenon. Unlike, say, with the martial arts films that crossed over from Hong Kong and China to the West over three decades ago; or Japanese creature features, manga or ‘J-Horror’ genres. They influence Hollywood, still the gold standard for big feature film production. To change that requires tinkering with the old formula for Indian cinema. It would mean going more ‘arty’ (a despised phrase in Indian film production circles) and looking to imbibe and reconstruct in singular fashion genres, themes and narrative experiments from elsewhere. And not just in form.

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Which is, of course, easier said than done. A strong recidivist streak resides deep inside Indian filmdom. The formula may not be periodically dumped or retired for a new genre to rise to the top of the heap à la Hollywood. This in turn has a lot to do with why the formula is the way it is. Why fix what ain’t broke? And besides, this formula is the second reason Indian films have such a large global reach. It’s why they speak in unmatched dulcet tones to several other developing societies that have much more in common with Indian audiences than they suspect.

Think Local, Act Global There’s a reason India is referred to as a subcontinent. The sum of its many ethnic, cultural and linguistic parts is perhaps greater than the whole. With over 25 major languages spoken and over 700 hundred dialects, not to mention large ethnic, cultural and religious divisions, nation building and unity was a challenge the founders and early builders of modern India took very seriously indeed. Cinema was soon harnessed to the task in the 1950s. Filmmakers and writers took on matters of great national and social import and until the mid 1960s (when romances got mushier and a new generation of glamorous lovers and sex symbols appeared onscreen) and early 70s (when public anger against a dysfunctional state and crony capitalism exploded on screens across India) sought to craft a cohesive cinema that provided ‘wholesome’ family entertainment while dwelling on traditional Indian values and customs. These films had to crossover from one region of India to another that had about as much in common with each other as two European countries do. They had to transcend barriers of language, class, creed and ethnicity. They began doing that for almost every big Bollywood release in roughly the late 60s to early 70s. The seeds of a global formula were sown right there.

The spectacular results are there for the world to see. Indeed, whatever your cinematic inclinations you would have to admit, where would Indian cinema be without all that song and dance? The world agrees

A poster of Sivaji 54

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Songs and dance are essence of Indian cinema In fact, in addition to India’s remarkable (even if slightly flawed) tryst with liberal democracy, several theorists and historians have championed Bollywood in particular as a great force for national integration in what ought to have been a rather fractious country of infinite diversity. To put it a little simplistically, a template was slowly evolved and continues to form the basis of cinema to this day with very little variations on the theme, even if the forms have changed over time. Also powered by audiences changing with a new liberalising India, new films from the mid 1990s began to be increasingly located abroad (and not just for the songs) while the melodrama remained firmly rooted in varying interpretations of ‘Indianness’. Over the year the characters got glitzier, the stars got shinier, the songs got dreamier, the love stories got mushier, the gangsters and vigilantes got nastier and the Hollywoodinspired action sequences got edgier, but the melodramatic tensions remained pretty much the same. It made -- and still makes -- for a heady mix. Yet at its core Indian cinema is still mostly all about family, culture, traditions and, of course, romance. And the increasing demands that modernity makes on each of those. This is largely what appeals to audiences in countries that are grappling with the rapid changes wrought by the modern world and increasingly breakneck Westernization of societies. So from much of the Arab world to Central Asia and parts of South East Asia, from Africa and to many parts of Latin America, Indian films deal with societal tensions that people deal with on a daily basis. Despite the candy floss glamour on top, Praveen Dass is an which merely provides for the perfect escapism independent filmmaker for such audiences. And an alternate ‘warm’ and fine art photographer escapism, one that comes straight from the heart; as opposed to what Hollywood provides, which for currently based in India these audiences tends to be either too cerebral, jabberwonky@gmail.com too Western or merely a visceral rush. The neoShakespearean tragicomic genre that Bollywood has made its own is a different flavour to be savoured with everyone. No wonder it’s a hit. Besides, there’s also one special secret sauce added into the mix. The one genre that India perhaps took and refashioned in singular fashion more than any other to make it its own more than any other: the old Hollywood musical format. Which was quickly fused with classical Indian traditions of devotional and theatrical musical performance. The spectacular results are there for the world to see. Indeed, whatever your cinematic inclinations you would have to admit, where would Indian cinema be without all that song and dance? The world agrees. Come, sing along. Or better yet, dance.

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Newsletter from the Film Facilitation Office

www.ffo.gov.in ABOUT US

PERMISSIONS

LOCATIONS

FILMING IN INDIA

CO-PRODUCTIONS

PRODUCTION DIRECTORY

CONTACT US

July - August 2021

N e w s l e t t e r

Unlock your Narrative. Come home to your imagination.

India Rolls Out

Red Carpet

to Global

Filmmakers


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FFO@TIFF 2021

Come, Film in India With all safety protocols for COVID-19 pandemic put in place, processes of permissions eased, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India rolls out the red carpet for all the producers and filmmakers to make filming in India a memorable experience

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s the largest filmmaking country in the world, coupled with a great locational diversity, vibrant production and post-production industry as well as skilled manpower, India has much more to offer than most of the other parts of the world, said experts.

FILMED IN INDIA

Welcoming the global filmmaking community to explore “the beauty of filming in India”, Neerja Sekhar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, said, “We would like to reach out to the world community to showcase how ready we are to welcome you all. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has been working on the policy of Ease of Doing Filming in India. We are in the process of integrating with various State Governments and agencies, so that filmmakers can devote their entire time for creative pursuits and putting things together for shooting and filming rather than going from one office to another to apply for permissions.”

Christopher Nolan, shooting for Tenet in Mumbai

FIRST POINT OF CONTACT For Filming in India and Co-Producing with India

www.ffo.gov.in email: ffo@nfdcindia.com The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) has created an ecosystem that eases filming in India for both domestic and international filmmakers. Since 2016, 115 international projects (Feature Films, TV/ web shows and series) from across 27 countries were accorded permission to film in India by the Ministry of I&B. Out of these, 11 projects were granted an official co-production status. FFO has an online system in place to receive and process all applications of international as well as domestic producers. “All applications are taken online and there is a system of providing the permissions in a timely manner so that the trouble of coming to different offices, which an international producer might not be aware of, is taken care of” said Dhanpreet Kaur, Director (Films), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and MD, NFDC. “With vaccination plans in progress, we look forward to welcoming producers and production companies from across the world to shoot their Feature Films, TV and Web shows and series in India. Our States are geared up to handle productions of all sizes and have come out with guidelines for filming during COVID, ensuring all safety precautions are in place.” said Dhanpreet Kaur.

Action thriller Extraction was shot in Ahmedabad & Mumbai

Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy was filmed in Lucknow, Kanpur & Maheshwar

Filmmakers acknowledge that the establishment of FFO in 2016 has ensured that the processes of permissions and other support services become much faster and streamlined in India. “The FFO is accepting all filming applications including applications for Recee permissions and is available to answer any queries from producers. The FFO has listed all important guidelines, advisories and relevant filming information on its portal www.ffo.gov.in, for easy navigation by the filmmakers” said Vikramjit Roy, Head, FFO.

Unlock your Narrative. Come home to your imagination.


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Testimonials

India – A film lover’s paradise I had a wonderful experience shooting in India. It was a fantastic experience, it was very exotic locations, the crew, the filmmakers we partnered up with cudn’t have been more talented, more committed to making a good movie. Indian people were warm, open and friendly and I fell in love with India. I look forward to coming back to India, making another film here soon. Patrick Newall, Producer

The vibrant and rich culture, diversity of locations, hospitality of its people and its robust regional film industries make India an unmatched place to create content. Accessing permissions for Skater Girl was made easy with the help of the incredibly supportive and responsive team at India’s Film Facilitation Office. Emmanuel Pappas, Founder & Producer, Skate Park Films

The Film Facilitation Office has been instrumental in mobilising various State Governments towards easing filming. The Most Film Friendly State (MFFS) award introduced by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is one such step in that direction. Given under the aegis of National Film Awards, it recognizes State Governments for their efforts towards the needs of filmmakers, easing filming and encouraging them to create a film friendly environment in their jurisdiction. This year the State of Sikkim was adjudged the winner of MFFS Award 2019 for its film friendliness towards the filmmaking community. Shaji N. Karun, Renowned Filmmaker and Chairman of the Jury, MFFS Award 2019

The Film Facilitation office (FFO) has tremendously improved and fastened the permission process for international projects as well as the delivery of Film Visas for the cast and crew. India is fascinating as it has an incredible variety of landscapes to offer. And apart from the variety of locations, one of the main advantages India has compared to several foreign countries, is that the technical crews are very skilled and experienced Déborah Benattar, Executive Producer, La Fabrique Films

An entire ecosystem awaits foreign productions in India, thanks to proactive measures by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. With the formation of the FFO, we have a onestop-shop to obtain clearances and support. We’ve always been a costeffective destination for production and now there’s an abundance of talent and skilled professionals in our industry as well. We also have superb post-production and VFX capabilities. Alan McAlex, Producer, Suitable Pictures & Production Scope

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EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Online Permission Ecosystem International filmmakers can register and apply through the FFO portal, www.ffo.gov.in, to obtain all Central and State Government permissions. Here is the easy eight-step guide for International Filmmakers Seeking A National Permit To Film In India

1 Register on the FFO web portal as an International Production

2 3

Fill up National Permission form

Pay fees of INR equivalent to USD 225

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Upload synopsis & script, details of shooting locations in India, period of shooting, cast /crew details with passport, list of equipment to be temporarily imported for filming, agreement between Indian and foreign party in case of a co-production, NOC in case of portrayal of a living personality in the film

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Application received by FFO and script sent for evaluation

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Post the script evaluator’s clearance of the script, application processed for permission

7 Producer may apply for Film (F) Visa with Indian Missions/posts abroad

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Unlock your Narrative. Come home to your imagination.

Once approved, permission can be downloaded from the portal


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EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Journey Made Easy for Indian Filmmakers The services rendered by the FFO portal regarding facilitation of permissions from State Governments, ASI, Railways and other Central Agencies have been extended to Indian filmmakers as well. Here is the easy seven-step guide for Indian and International filmmakers to help them navigate domestic permissions through the Film Facilitation Office portal and start their journey at the click of a button.

1 Domestic filmmakers to register on the FFO web portal as an Indian Production (International may not register again)

2 Upload Synopsis, details of shooting locations, period of shooting, location wise cast/crew details and equipment list etc. International productions also need to upload National Permit issued by the FFO, Ministry of I&B

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No application fee for submission. For location specific fee, Nodal officer gets in touch with the applicant directly.

Once the permission has been granted, the Nodal Officer uploads the Permission letter on the FFO web portal, which can be accessed by the applicant

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Fill up State/ ASI/Railways Permission form

Nodal officer receives the application and processes it

5 Application thereafter sent to the respective Nodal officer/s, whose details are also shared with the applicant.

FFO facilitates the accordance of permission

Unlock your Narrative. Come home to your imagination.

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MOST FILM FRIENDLY STATES OF INDIA

AWARD WINNERS India offers an endless variety of cultures, landscapes, monuments, and shooting locales. The ‘Most Film Friendly State’ Award encourages States to adopt policies that ensure ease of filming and provide filmic infrastructure and incentives for filmmakers. Here is the list of award winners since 2015

SIKKIM MFFS 2019 Sikkim Film Promotion Board (SFPB), Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Sikkim – sikkimfilmboard@gmail.com, khawasb@gmail.com

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djudged the ‘Most Film Friendly State of India’ in 2019 at the recently-concluded 67th National Film Awards, Sikkim offers picturesque valley and snowcap mountains spread across different districts with locations like Yumthang Valley, Lachung, Gnathang Valley, numerous Buddhist monasteries, iconic Hindu religious destination like Chardham and pristine glacial lakes that make for a perfect place to shoot a film. The small Himalayan State with its mesmerizing natural splendours coupled with an investor-friendly policy to make the work of filmmakers easy is extremely alluring. With its own brief history of cinema, attracting prominent filmmakers like Satyajit Ray and Dev Anand, the State Government has made several attractive provisions to have a friendly film shooting environment

for the producers and directors and also for the local filmmakers. The State is also working towards setting up a film city. Over the past few years, the State, especially the picturesque northern district, has served as the perfect backdrop of several Bollywood films and many regional films. On the policy front, Sikkim offers all permits/ permissions and paperwork through a single window system. The State Government has also identified, catalogued and developed promising potential shooting locations, which have aesthetic and cinematic appeal. Besides providing support through resources and incentives in the production of a film, the State also assists in renting equipment required for film making at reasonable rates along with the fee of the technician to handle the equipment.

UTTARAKHAND MFFS 2018 K.S.Chauhan | Uttarakhand Film Development Council ufdc2015@gmail.com

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nother State nestled amidst the mighty Himalayan ranges, Uttarakhand was declared the Most Film Friendly State of 2018. The State with beautiful hills of Nainital, Mussoorie’s waterfalls, accompanied by the divine bells at Rishikesh, Badrinath, and Kedarnath, Tehri lake, Ranikhet and Chakrata is the right destination for filmmakers. Action scenes are bound to get racier, if shot at the skiing mountains at Auli and Munsiyari. Blessed with a rare bio-diversity, the animals at Jim Corbett Park too await their 10 seconds of fame. Among the initiatives undertaken by the State for promotion of filming, is the development of a Film City and selection and development of places for outdoor

shooting. Incentives offered by Uttarakhand to filmmakers include exemption of shooting fees for films; 50% discount for film shoots at Guest Houses of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. and subsidy of 30% or Rs 1.5 Cr. (whichever is lesser) for big banner films, if 75% of the shooting is done in the State. Some of the films, documentaries and TV Serials shot in Uttarakhand include Student Of The Year, Koi Mil Gaya, Lakshya, Buntyaur Bubli, Paan Singh Tomar, Shivaay, Dum Lagake Haisha, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Facing The Mountain, Kedarnath, Lifelines, Splitsvilla, Khatronke Khiladi, Roadies, among other.

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MADHYA PRADESH MFFS 2017 Ram Tiwari | Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board ffc.mptb@mp.gov.in

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inner of the Indian Government’s National Award for the Most Film Friendly State in 2017, the ‘heart of India’, Madhya Pradesh, offers a wide variety of locales, eliminating the role of a set designer. From famous forts, marble rocks of Bhedaghat, to the green hills of Pachmarhi, the options are rich and many. The temples of Khajuraho are UNESCO world heritage sites. The State has made considerable efforts towards easing filming in the State by creating a well-structured web site, film friendly infrastructure, offering incentives,

maintaining databases, undertaking marketing and promotional initiatives. Initiatives taken by State for simplification of film production include appointment of Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Department as the nodal Agency for film shooting clearance, incentives and subsidies in the State. The Tourism Department also coordinates with other Departments to obtain legal mandatory permissions needed for producers. Tourism Department offers discounts at State Government owned hotels and free of charge shooting at selected locations.

UTTAR PRADESH MFFS 2016 Film Bandhu Uttar Pradesh filmbandhup@gmail.com

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inner of the Most Film Friendly State Award in 2016, Uttar Pradesh is the rainbow land where the multi-hued Indian culture has blossomed from times immemorial. While Taj Mahal in Agra, the symbol of love, has attracted filmmakers to the State since the black and white era, the temple town of Varanasi offers a never-seen-before cultural experience for international viewers. The Buddhist relics at Sarnath and Lucknow are other places that could double up as props for a film catering to a wide audience. Under the new Film Policy introduced in 2018, the State Government seeks a widespread publicity of the cultural, mythological, historical heritage and glorious

traditions of the State. For ensuring availability of all the film production related facilities under a single roof, Film Bandhu Uttar Pradesh has been set up as the nodal agency. Initiatives taken for simplification of film production include setting up a Single Table System to provide improved facilities, a range of financial incentives for filmmakers, setting up of State Film Division to provide easy, simplified and timely certification facility for films, and provision of free security arrangements, among others.

GUJARAT MFFS 2015 Khyati Nayak | Gujarat Tourism https://www.gujarattourism.com/, cinematic@gujarattourism.com

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inner of the Most Film Friendly State Award in 2015, Gujarat is increasingly becoming the most preferred spot for film shootings. Blessed with diverse choices of great locations including spectacular geographical, archeological and royal sites, Gujarat is a treasure trove for filmmakers of every hue. Gujarat’s single-window clearance facility, presence of a dedicated web portal, international promotions,

database of production facilities and hotels and emergency services considerably streamline the otherwise cumbersome process of film making. Initiatives taken by the State for simplification of film production include quick shooting approvals, free security arrangement for film shooting in public places, marketing and other support from Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd. (TCGL) Film Cells at Gandhinagar and Mumbai, among others.

Unlock your Narrative. Come home to your imagination.


ABOUT US

PERMISSIONS

LOCATIONS

FILMING IN INDIA

CO-PRODUCTIONS

PRODUCTION DIRECTORY

CONTACT US

Navigating FFO Portal

www.ffo.gov.in It’s a one-stop portal to connect with every State and Central Government Agency, that accords filming permissions. By visiting the website, you can find all the information that you need to film in India. Here’s a deep dive into what you can find on the portal to tick off your list: Application for Filming in India: To bring

more transparency, coherence and convenience, FFO’s web portal is now equipped to process applications of filmmakers which they can submit online.

Permissions: The FFO portal will help you

get all the permissions, whether it is from the State Governments or Central Govt. stakeholders like the Animal Welfare Board of India, Aviation Ministry etc. FFO works very closely with filmmakers shoulder-toshoulder and plays a key role in making all the right introductions while coordinating with the various stakeholders from the Governments to get all the necessary clearances for you.

the same by coordinating with Indian Embassies and Consulates across the world. F Visa is now also issued for web shows/series and location recee.

Recce Permissions: Producers can now apply for location recce permissions online for any State in India on the FFO web portal. ASI & Railways Permissions: One can also apply for filming in monuments that are under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and various Railways properties through the FFO portal.

with all the relevant information on specific sites and locales across India that can be used by filmmakers to create a perfect backdrop for their projects. India offers an entire ecosystem for foreign productions and its diversity allows a filmmaker to tell global stories from here.

Co-production: Co-productions are an increasingly attractive option for many producers. The web portal offers a comprehensive view of the coproduction treaties signed with 15 countries including France, UK and Northern Ireland, Russia, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Germany amongst others. Each Agreement identifies the competent authority of the country concerned to whom applications are made for approval as co–production.

Incentives: The FFO portal acts as a single point of

Directories: The portal offers a complete

Visa: Information on Film(F) Visa along with a linkage to the authorized portal for visa application for India, is available on the FFO portal. With the support of the Ministry of External Affairs, the issuance of F visa has been simplified and made easy. The FFO facilitates

directory of Nodal officers and key officials along with their contact details in States and Ministries like DGCA, AWBI, ASI and Customs to help filmmakers connect with them and get their queries resolved quickly. Similarly, the portal also highlights all the relevant information related to film cities, organisations engaged in animation, VFX and post production work, as well as Line Producers who have executed international productions.

Locations: The FFO portal has a dedicated section

contact for filmmakers to get all the relevant information on incentives being offered by various States under their respective film policy initiatives.

Film Facilitation Office National Film Development Corporation Limited 4th Floor, Soochna Bhavan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delh - 110003 +91 11 24367338 | ffo@nfdcindia.com

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