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Next edition of MIFF will have a wider outreach: DG Smita Vats Sharma

Smita Vats Sharma, DG, Films Division

The 16th edition of MIFF the most popular film festival for Documentaries, Short films and Animation Films – Mumbai International Film Festival 2020 ended with a grand awards ceremony on 3rd February at Nehru Centre Auditorium, Worli in Mumbai.

Governor of Maharashtra, Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari was the Chief Guest of honor along with other dignitaries, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Medical Education Shri Amit Deshmukh and Additional Secretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Shri Atul Kumar Tiwari who felicitated the award winning filmmakers.

The prestigious Golden Conch Award for Best Documentary Film at MIFF 2020 went to Babenco, Tell Me When I Die (Director: Barbara Paz) and the Silver Conch for Best Short Fiction Film was awarded to Paavsacha Nibandh- An Essay of Rain (Director: Nagraj Manjule).

Ms Smita Vats Sharma, Director General, Films Division and Director, MIFF spoke to Paresh B. Mehta on wide-ranging topics as regarda to looking forward for the next edition of MIFF.

Isn’t there is a need to get a larger participation of the audiences at the MIFF?
Every edition of MIFF sees new efforts from our side to reach as wider audience as possible. This time we went out to 3 outreach college campuses. MIFF 2020 went to Deviprasad Goenka institute, Usha Pravin Gandhi College of Mass Media in Vile Parle and the University of Mumbai Kalina campus precisely to get more audience for the documentaries that we should get a younger and much more diverse audience. This is an effort to see that the documentary film viewing is not only confined to those who make films.
More steps will be taken in the next edition to get more people involved in the culture of documentary films.

At a press conference, the Jury of MIFF 2020 expressed disappointment on the number of Animation films entered in the Festival. What do you think could be the lack of interest of participation, particularly from Indian Animation filmmakers?
The festival aims to increase our pitching activities prior to the next edition to reach out to more animation filmmakers in particular. There were eminent animation filmmakers like the famous Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, Pencho Kunchev and Indian animators like Suresh Eriyat who were involved with the festival activities pertaining to animation films. I am hopeful that they would become out ambassadors as they go back, spread the word about MIFF and we expect more entries in Animation category the next time.

Also, there was a concern about lesser films entered under the International categories at this year’s MIFF.
We had entries from 24 countries this year, though the international participation was muted compared to the earlier editions. We had eminent Jury from almost every continent, like we had from Japan, Singapore, Bulgaria and Canada. We are working towards ensuring that there are more entries from other countries. It is a learning curve.

One of the juries suggested of tying up with international Film-submission portals to get more entries. What is your view on this?
It is a very constructive suggestion and there were several other constructive and productive suggestions which came up in the Jury report. We will try to incorporate their suggestions so that the next edition of MIFF is much more enriched.

Could there have been more diverse entries in the National Section, subject wise and in Pan-India participation?
As we had something like 600+ entries, you can understand the diversity of subjects and filmmakers from a wider geographical participation across India. The awards have gone out to a wide variety of subjects in different categories like upto 60 mins, upto 45 mins. We do not go by subject categories, but have the categories as per their duration.

All the films screened in MIFF were brilliant films. While some won, there were other good films that couldn’t. Is there any effort on guiding them towards monetization which could ease their financial burden?
This time MIFF acted as a facilitator between the filmmakers and OTT platforms. There was a participation of eminent players in the OTT media space coming for 1- to-1 with filmmakers who are interested in marketing their films. Our B2B sessions which were spread over 3 days were very constructive with several 1-1 meetings, Q & As to help the documentary filmmakers understand as to how to approach the OTT platforms, how to market their films. A beginning has already been made in MIFF 2020.

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