We don’t know about Indian cinema… not totally our fault: John Baileyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/we-dont-know-about-indian-cinema-not-totally-our-fault-john-bailey-5749625/

We don’t know about Indian cinema… not totally our fault: John Bailey

Since the establishment of the Academy, Bailey is the first president to visit India. “Except for some, Indian films are not that well known and this visit to India is a small part on our side to change that,” he said.

John Bailey, John Bailey AMPAS, John Bailey Indian Cinema, Carol Littleton, Indian Express
AMPAS president John Bailey with his wife Carol Littleton at the National Film Museum on Sunday. (Express photo: Nirmal Harindran)

THERE IS a need to provide more Indian films a global stage, said John Bailey, president, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), on Sunday.

“Indian cinema is one of the richest in the world, owing to its numerous cultures, languages and historical narratives. I want to learn more about the movies (made here). There is a need for the rest of the world to know (about Indian films). The fantasy of Bollywood musicals (released abroad) do not give us a deep understanding of your culture and values. We do not know about Indian cinema except from the films of the Golden Age, such as those by Satyajit Ray, and its not totally our fault. There is a need to put more Indian films out to the world,” Bailey said during an interaction with media students. He was accompanied by his wife, American film editor Carol Littleton.

Since the establishment of the Academy, Bailey is the first president to visit India. “Except for some, Indian films are not that well known and this visit to India is a small part on our side to change that,” he said.

Talking of changes in the Academy, Bailey said, “Presently, we are going through a “streaming revolution”. Major studios — Disney, Paramount — are making original content for their own streaming platforms. Netflix too is producing more and more digital content,” he said.

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He said, “The Academy is in the middle of a transition about whether to include films which are streamed on these platforms or just those shown on the silver screen. Both have its drawbacks and virtues. The Board of Governors made no decision to change the rules. Let’s wait and see where we are a couple of years from now.”

He added that the Oscars were presented in 24 categories, which are created and dropped every once in a while. The academy was exploring the idea of consolidating categories – such as those for adapted screenplay and original screenplay; and sound editing and sound mixing.

Littleton said her collaboration with Bailey had been extraordinary. Both have worked on 12 films together over the past 47 years. On male domination in the Hollywood film industry, she said, “In Hollywood, men make decisions for the most part – who will make films and who will work in them. But it is not the case in editing. Once people realise that you have the talent, the notion of gender disappears. The opportunities for women have been far less than men. If you do your work twice as well to be noticed, it disappears.

On their choice of projects, Littleton said, “I want to be moved by human beings creating characters that entertain us. A compelling story that moves me, makes me feel will move the audience too. Small budgets don’t discourage me at all.”

The interaction was moderated by actor Sonali Kulkarni and director Madhur Bhandarkar. Bailey and Littleton were invited to India as chief guests for the 56th Maharashtra State Marathi Film Festival’s concluding ceremony.