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Commonwealth film festival for more Indian presence

By Frederick Noronha, IANS

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ASent Aishwarya Rai - Ecards wider Indian participation is being sought for next year's Commonwealth Film Festival, with more quality commercial films especially those featuring current Bollywood top stars.

"I would love to showcase some of India's big stars - Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee and others," said Manchester-based Mathieu Ravier, programme director of the festival.

"We're also interested in films which have never played in Manchester before and are not available on video in the UK," he said.

The festival shows over 20 Indian films and takes over filmmakers from the sub-continent. In 2004, it screened 21 Indian films. In the past, organisers say, they received "tremendous feedback" from Indian filmmakers.

"Apart from Bollywood films there are very few films from India distributed in Britain. The London and Edinburgh Film Festivals screen the occasional Indian title as does Bite The Mango Film Festival in Bradford, but there are dozens of quality Indian films representing a variety of languages and styles that don't see the inside of a movie theatre," Ravier told IANS.

"The popularity of Indian films at the festival is evident. Last year, for example, the winner of the BBC Audience Award for Best Feature was Partho
en Gupta's 'Hava Aney Dey' (Let The Wind Blow)."

Download VeerZaara WallpapersThe Commonwealth festival, to be held from April 29 to May 8, 2005, in Manchester has already received many submissions from Indian filmmakers.

Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Bengali film "Swapner Din" would be screened and the filmmaker is expected to attend the festival.

"The interest level in Indian films in the Commonwealth is high. India is seen as a success story and a potential model for development. A delegation of film industry representatives from Nigeria came especially to Manchester to study Indian films and network with Indian representatives," Ravier said.

"We have also found a lot of interest in Indian cinema from South African
representatives," he added.

Indian filmmakers also receive substantial media coverage and benefit from networking opportunities within the industry.

In 2005, Manchester is to run the 2nd Commonwealth Co-production Forum, which Ravier says is "another opportunity for Indian film-makers to network and find business partners throughout the Commonwealth".

"We're looking at getting a wide representation of films from India, from different regions, in different languages. We receive a lot of art-house films, which is great, but we would be happy to consider more commercial titles as well, as long as no compromise has been made on quality," Ravier added.

Download VeerZaara WallpapersAmongst Ravier's own favourite films shown in previous festivals, he lists Partho Sen Gupta's "Hava Aney Dey", which he calls "a great example of a
filmmaker who successfully mixes Western and Asian filmmaking traditions."

He also lists in a similar category Vishal Bhardwaj's majestic "Maqbool", which he describes as "thrilling and captivating".

Mahesh Dattani's "Mango Souffle" Ravier lists among the category of films that are "not afraid of bending the rules", and he says Rajiv Vijayaraghavan's "Margam" (The Path) was "an exceptional film which deserves repeated viewings".

Indian films shown at the 2004 Commonwealth festival include: "Hava Aney Dey", (Partho Sen Gupta, UK Premiere and BBC Audience Award for the Best Film), "Maqbool" (Vishal Bhardwaj), "Maargam" (Rajiv Vijayaraghavan), "Anaahat" (Amol Palekar), "Abar Aranye" (Gautam Ghose), "Arimpara" (Murali Nair), "Matrubhoomi" (Manish Jha), "Bharat Mata" (Mehboob Khan), "Aranyer Din Ratri" (Satyajit Ray).


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