Filed under: Professional Talk | Tags: art, Cannes film festival, cinema, film, film appreciation, film critic, film education, film festivals, film industry, oorvazi irani, Premendra Mazumder
Premendra Mazumder is working on cinema in versatile capacities. As a film critic, writes for various publications worldwide. Authored a book on Hundred Years of Indian Cinema in Bengali. Edited several film journals. Worked in the editorial board of the ‘Dictionary of Asian Cinema’ published in Oct. 2008 by Nouveau Monde Editions, Paris. Member of the ‘Federation Internationale Presse de Cinematographique – Fipresci’. Official Correspondent for India for the ‘Cannes Critics Week’ since 2005.
Today how would you look at cinema, as an art or an industry. How does it maintain the balance or is there a need for a separation.
Cinema is a perfect combination of art and industry. Its a brilliant creative work and a superb saleable product as well.
Cinema always maintained an ideal balance during its ontogenesis. Its not needed to facilitate an unhappy divorce of such a generative marriage. Any unwarranted effort of such a separation will simply be futile.
Do you feel that there is a space where a filmmaker as an artist can exist without bothering about how their film will do at the box office. Is there an independent DVD market that can exist for this artist who does not have to rely on mass appeal but address a select audience and still be in business. Who offers this space to the filmmaker. Can a filmmaker afford to use cinema as a ‘pen’ can she/ he really be free to create.
If there is sufficient resource to be patronised, the filmmaker as an artist can exist without bothering about the box-office. But it is difficult to survive as the producer may not be interested always to waste money for such a benevolence. When any creative art comes to the market, it becomes a product. And whenever there is any necessity to depend upon the returns from the market the absolute independence of the creator is compelled to compromise with the conditions of the market. On the other hand the quality of the product can also control the character of the market. Even it can create its niche market for its own survival. Cinema has this quality in abundance. So a filmmaker has got enough opportunity to experiment. As the vast community culture of film viewing is changing very rapidly to small group culture or to individual culture, the scope to reach the target audience is also increasing very speedily. Shifting from large single-screen theatres to small multiplexes or to personal home monitors, creates wider opportunity to ignore the box-office oriented complex market mechanism controlled by the nexus of financiers, producers, distributors and exhibitors. Film sense is increasing apace amongst the educated viewers through the constant persuasion of the support groups like film clubs, film schools, film studies departments of colleges and universities, other film education centres et al which could be a good help for the independent filmmakers to ignore the box-office. Only constraint is the lack of professional approach. A film-society activist or a film scholar is ready to spend Rs.200(+) per ticket for seeing a big-budget product in a class-I multiplex with friends or family members and there is nothing wrong in it but the same person will not be ready to promote a low-budget independent film in the same multiplex even at the half price and rather find either for a complimentary pass in some academic show or opt for lending a DVD at Rs.10(-). When these group of film intelligentsia will realise that not only their intellectual support is sufficient to promote a good film or an independent filmmaker but also their financial support is very much necessary for their survival, the total premise will be changed.
Independent DVD market for a select audience is in existence worldwide, even in India. For example, the entire NE zone of the country where the people are contented with their own language and culture has a huge home-made DVD market. Its a booming business there since the digital technology opened the new horizon in audio-visual culture. In mainstream market also the existing oligopoly could be challenged by the independent filmmakers as there is a high demand of genre-wise films. Here also the role of the above-mentioned support groups is very much important. People with real film-sense should realise that even to make a very small budget independent film a bountiful amount of money is needed and if the filmmaker does not get it back it will be impossible for the artist to survive. So the support groups should come forward to activate the alternative channels for promotion of such positive efforts. Even an alternative market network could also be built up using the technological advancements.
This space is being generated through a complex market mechanism. There are some forums in existence who are trying to explore the market. Demand is also increasing to cater the need of the consumable products. Some satellite channels are marking some slots for such films not to promote good films or independent filmmakers but to cater their own need for finding out new avenues to increase profit. Some support groups may come forward jointly to operate a separate channel for promotion of such films in a regular manner. When the people in general will have the wide opportunity to taste the good films at their home comfort according to their own convenience, they will certainly come forward to promote such films by purchasing the DVDs or going to the theatres paying entry fees.
Advancement of technology will shortly make it possible to use cinema as a ‘pen’ and the filmmaker will be ‘free’ in the real sense of the term to create.
Many young aspiring filmmakers in India want to express themselves but feel limited by the economic approach of ‘the mainstream feature film’ . What are the other options available to them to make a livelihood as a filmmaker.
First of all the aspiring filmmaker has to decide the specific goal and then the way to reach there. The problem with most them is that they are basically confused and can not decide what they exactly want to achieve. There is nothing wrong to dream about being a Yash Chopra or a Ritwik Ghatak, but it is practically impossible to be the both at the same time. Its a Laputan proposition. And to achieve a specific goal the filmmaker should be philosophically honest. Limitation of funding for making artistically brilliant film is always there as the producer wants a quick return of the investment with a handsome profit. Still there are so many excellent films which have glorified the history of Indian cinema without bothering for the box-office.
To make filmmaking a livelihood is really difficult at the initial stage particularly for the outsiders. Ad-films, corporate films, commissioned documentaries etc. could be the options at the struggling stage to survive. Even after getting success several filmmakers continue earning from these alternatives.
What are the options of funding a film for a young filmmaker today.
As the film industry in India is being corporatised very rapidly, there are many opportunities of getting funds for the young aspiring filmmakers. Corporate houses could be approached directly with the specific proposals. Like independent filmmakers, independent producers always exist, who have the money and want to be associated with some good artistic works. Some NGOs are there in the business. Govt. organisations like NFDC, PSBT, FD etc. also provide funds. In state levels, there are some organisations. Some reputed international film festivals have got some projects. Many funding agencies are there. But for any such project, one need to have a worthy proposal and right valuable contacts.
What has been your experiences with film festivals across the world.
Refreshing & worthful, exciting & colourful. Festivals enrich the knowledge, update the information, explore new talents, retrospect the veterans. Interactions with the filmbuffs of different countries create an comfortable feeling of international bonding beyond borders based upon cinema. Its an excellent opportunity to expand the wings in an open sky of cinema.
Are film festivals an alternative space for an artist to get recognized.
Absolutely right. Film is an universal form of art. So its universal recognition is most important to a real artist. And the film festival is the right forum to get that recognition. A film may or may not be accepted in the land of its origin. But it could be highly acclaimed internationally. That certainly benefits the artist, intellectually and sometimes financially as well. There are so many examples which confirm that a real artist has been recognised first by some festival.
When does a young filmmaker know that he is ready to enter his film into a reputed film festival. What are the qualities in a film that you look for being on the jury board of many film festivals yourself. What is the special quality that takes the first prize and appeals the most.
It depends upon the self-judgement, which, in most of the cases, are not correct. So the members of the selection jury are compelled to see so many bad entries. An efficient consultant can show the right path.
A good film draws your uninterrupted attention from the beginning till end with all your sensations focused on it without any distortion and it pursues you even after the final bell rings and keeps you obsessed for ever. As a member of the jury I find this quality of a film.
Film is a very complicated medium. So process to judge the best is also very complicated. There is no hard-and-fast rule, but some pre-fixed conditions could be there. It differs from festival to festival. Some common aspects are to evaluate different sections, such as, form, presentation, content, script, cinematography, sound, music, acting, editing and overall performance. But which appeals most is that it should not only be a good film but the best one amongst all in the competition.
How do you enter your film in the Cannes festival. Do you feel the process of selection is transparent and democratic.
I am the official correspondent for India for the Cannes Critics Week for last six years. I strongly believe that its selection process is very much transparent and highly democratic.
If you would have to list the top ten film festivals in the world what would they be.
As I work as the consultant for several film festivals worldwide, I should not comment on this particular point. I think all the festivals are important as they promote good cinema, explore new talents, create and nourish healthy film culture. That’s all.
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