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India score at Cannes

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Monday, May 29, 2006 

New Delhi (UNI): Several Indian films, including Rang De Basanti, Don, Hari Om, Boom, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Omkara and Friends Forever evoked tremendous interest among buyers for overseas territory rights at the Cannes Film Market, which came to a close at the 59th Cannes Film festival today. The Indian pavilion at the 12-day-long film market, where over 80 companies, 20 exhibitors and over 45 independent filmmakers from India positioned their products and projects, was abuzz with activity with theatre owners in Italy, Germany, France, West Asia evincing tremendous interest in screening Indian films in their territories. A majority of the participant companies at the India pavilion, organized by the NFDC and the CII, signed up a raft of new deals at the Cannes film market, considered the world's largest film market participated by over 70 countries.

''We made a real break through this year at Cannes. The India Pavilion at the Village International attracted enormous attention and connect with global cinema,'' said Bobby Bedi, Chairman of the CII National Entertainment Committee. Several Indian films, including Rang De Basanti, Don, Hari Om, Boom, Friends Forever, were picked up by buyers for overseas territory rights. Indian film content is now accepted in over 50 countries across the world and for the first time distributors found new territories. ''We got entry into new markets in West Asia, Eastern Europe and South America. We were very happy to sign up deals with Rapid Eye Movies in Germany,'' said Ashoka Holla, VP (International) UTV.

The event also saw Karan Johar's Dharma Productions get leads into new markets for its forthcoming movie Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Ajay Devgan was also in Cannes to promote his new film Omkara while those like Eros and Adlabs also chose to showcase their forthcoming ventures by putting up stalls at the film market. ''I have been coming to Cannes for 15 years. This year has been my best and also for India which was everywhere at Cannes,'' said Jagmohan Mundhra, who premiered the Aishwarya Rai starred Provoked at the Cannes Film Market. Mundhra's film won rave reviews at the festival and got a huge public response.

Says Suresh Wadhwa, CEO of AP International, Chennai, who owns over 500 Tamil Films for overseas distribution and whose company recently sold the 2005 biggest grosser Rajnikant movie Chandramukhi to Germany, Japan and Turkey. ''It is a great eye-opener for me to see on ground that there is a market for Indian films beyond the traditional ethnic market.''

''It is a great learning experience at Cannes Film Market. We got three critical projects at Cannes and we would not have got those sitting at Defence Colony in Delhi,'' said Kalyan Mukherjee, director, KAS Movie Makers, which provides shooting and production service for overseas companies. ''It is amazing networking and we got what we wanted,'' said Pravin Thakur, CEO, Gimmicks Inc, line producers from India.

The biggest attraction for India at Cannes is positioning the country as a shooting location, new biz in post production, special effects outsourcing and the wide acceptance of Indian film content beyond the Indian diaspora audience and traditional markets. India will also be a major attraction at 60th Cannes film Festival next year as synergies are being worked out to combine it with the 60th anniversary of Indian Independence celebrating cinema and democracy.

The International Film Festival of India and Film Bazaar later this year at Goa, which was promoted at Cannes, generated a high level of interest among international participants. India was also a talking point at the Producers Network, which was the breakfast hub for over 200 global producers every day at Cannes for networking Producers from UK, USA, Australia, Poland, Canada was keen to work with Indian producers.

Industry leaders said that India should ratify the signed co-production treaty with Italy and UK and sign audio visual treaties with Germany, China, Canada, Australia. ''There is more co-production work for India than ever before,'' said film maker Manu Rewal, who was at Cannes with his new project Ramu and Juliet. ''India Pavilion and participation was more professional this year compared to earlier years,'' said filmmaker Sudhir Mishra. ''India participation reflected liberty, love and poetry,'' said Vijay Singh, who made the film One Dollar Curry.

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