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Taking Indian Cinema To Global Film Festivals

Promotion is key for a film to reach global audiences. The I&B Ministry has selected top international film festivals to market Indian movies

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Being the largest producer of feature films across varied genres, India is truly positioned to take its films to global audiences.

The recent decision by India’s Information & Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) to provide financial assistance for promoting Indian films for competition in international film festivals and to also promote Indian films that reach the final stage of selection at the Oscars is a remarkable development.

Marketing and promotion is key for a film to reach global audiences. The I&B Ministry has selected top international film festivals across a number of cross sections and it will provide funds ranging from Rs 7.5 lakh up to Rs 20 lakh for promoting Indian films at such festivals. It has also outlined spends up to Rs 1 crore, which is for the foreign language film category selected for the Oscars. These funds can be utilised towards travel arrangements for key talent, which may be essential for the red carpet/gala events and the outlined funds can also be utilised for publicists’ fees and expenses. Furthermore, there are additional categories under which reimbursements are possible, which includes subtitling costs, print transportation costs, etc.

By engaging a key publicist and by ensuring a selection into a key competition category of a reputable international film festival, a film will almost always gain global recognition. For example, there was tremendous buzz around the film, A Billion Colour Story (ABCS), which was screened at the Industry Screening at the Film Bazaar during the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. Especially since ABCS had also been screened in the reputable New Currents Section of the Busan International Film Festival in early October 2016 and the film received a standing ovation at the BFI London Film Festival. Now, ABCS is
on its way to being screened at the 28th Palm Springs International Film Festival in early January 2017.

Reflecting back, the film, The Lunchbox, which earned box office proceeds of over Rs 100 crore on a budget of approximately Rs 20 crore, earned terrific global recognition at the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival. The film also received a rare standing ovation at Cannes. It earned over $4 million at the box office in the US across more than 150 screens.

The global over-the-top (OTT) players, who have become the largest buyers of the digital rights of feature films, are also keenly interested in the buzz around key films at international festivals. Clearly, there is an inherent need to acquire film content that can travel across the globe and which better place could an OTT player target than a reputable international film festival? Of course, content remains king; however, positioning and marketing the content is also critical. The Indian diaspora is an important target market for most of the reputable global OTT players, such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, etc. Furthermore, given Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming eminent launch in India, there is going to be a big demand for Indian films that are relevant for India and for global markets.

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