India’s Film Bazaar Celebrates a Decade by Looking to the Future

Naman Ramachandran
Variety

GOA – Film Bazaar, the annual film market run by the National Film Development Corporation, turns 10 this year.

Bazaar regulars will miss NFDC Nina Lath Gupta, the inspirational architect of the market, who will not be attending the event this year due to illness. Leading the event (Nov. 20-24) instead is Film Bazaar director Raja Chinnal and co-director Manas Malhotra.

“It took us a couple of years to make filmmakers from across South Asia understand the importance of the international film marketplace,” Chinnal told Variety.

In its 10th year, Film Bazaar has reached a stage where people realize the value that the platform provides to filmmakers, both Indian and international. The success of films like ‘The Lunchbox,’ ‘Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost,’ ‘Shanghai,’ ‘Titli,’ ‘Thithi’ and other that have been through Film Bazaar has given us to believe that the journey that we have started in 2007 with a handful of delegates has been worth all the time and effort.”

Ritesh Batra’s “Lunchbox” has perhaps been the poster film of the Bazaar in the past decade. “Both the screenwriters’ lab and Bazaar were amazing,” said Batra. “Our project got into the CineMart in Rotterdam, which would not have been possible without the development in the lab.” Batra has since gone on to direct “The Sense of an Ending,” starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling, and Netflix original “Our Souls at Night,” that reunites Robert Redford and Jane Fonda after decades.

The Bazaar also tends to attract the cream of world film festivals. This year will see representatives from Cannes, London, Venice, Sydney, Busan and Locarno. “I’m quite impressed. (Film Bazaar) is full of good filmmakers and good projects. In the long run I see Film Bazaar at par with Cannes, Berlin and the American Film Market,” Thierry Fremaux, director general of the Cannes Film Festival, said.

This year, the co-production lab will see 18 projects from India, Bangladesh, Canada, Nepal, China, the Netherlands and Sweden vie for international financing as will seven projects in a variety of Indian languages at the work-in-progress lab. A further 12 projects will participate in the screenwriters’ labs pitch.

Sales agents attending include Seville International, Reel Suspects, China Film (Shanghai) International Media, Loco Films, Reflection Films and XYZ Films.

The Bazaar is keenly aware of rapidly changing formats. “Given the entry of digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon that are encouraging the creation of episodic content/series, Film Bazaar will need to explore different forms of story-telling in addition to the feature length narratives,” Malhotra told Variety.

A short hop away the International Film Festival of India also gets underway with the late Andrzej Wajda’s last film “Afterimage” as its opener. It ruins till Nov. 28 and will close with Kim Jee-woon’s “The Age of Shadows.” Korean films feature prominently this year and Im Kwon-taek will  receive a lifetime honor. Two Indian films in competition are “Ishti” and “Sahaj Pather Gappo.”

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