With the new order taking charge at the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI), one of the primary concerns has been to organise a festival that’s truly international in stature. With this in mind, its new chairperson Kiran Rao and festival director Anupama Chopra have roped in Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to share his expertise with the festival team.
During his Mumbai stay, Bailey with the MFF team, studied the various aspects of putting the festival together — technical, progamming, screening facilities, sponsorship and publicity. “We turn 40 this year and the MFF is much younger to us. Though we share a formal relationship, we want the festival in Mumbai to succeed,” says Bailey, who conducted a workshop with the senior staff of MAMI along with Natalie Lue, head of operations and production at TIFF. This year, MFF will be held from October 29 to November 5.
According to Bailey, raising funds for MFF might be a big problem, but that’s not the only issue. “The festival needs to be more visible. Everywhere you turn, you need to see the publicity material related to it. That’s partly why it is difficult to attract substantial funds and sustainable sponsors. We are able to do that in Toronto as the festival is smaller compared to Mumbai,” he says.
With Indian movies getting attention at TIFF for the last a few years, Bailey has been making annual trips to Mumbai to pick up movies. “Commercial Indian movies have a large fan base in Toronto. With interesting independent films coming out of India, the international audience has started noticing them as well,” says Bailey. Among others, movies such as Mary Kom, Margarita with a Straw and Ship of Theseus have been screened at TIFF in the recent years.
“I usually come to India early July and collect DVDs of movies for our festival. Occasionally, I end up going to the edit rooms. TIFF also has staff of Indian origin in Toronto as well as curators based in India. They help in the selection of movies,” he says. While the trend of showcasing Indian movies will continue at TIFF, which rolls out on September 10, the upcoming edition of MFF is likely to showcase a bunch of Canadian movies.
Complimenting MFF for its programming, he said, “They choose a number of films which have done well at international festivals. TIFF too, started the same way — being a festival of festivals.” Over the years, TIFF has grown to have a building of its own where five films are screened every day.
For international buyers, it is often difficult to connect with Indian filmmakers, Bailey says. Though NFDC’s Film Bazaar has taken a significant step in bridging the gap that exists between Indian filmmakers and international buyers, MFF should also work on it, he believes. “The buyers who go to Los Angeles, Toronto or Tokyo, don’t come to India in good numbers. Film marketing in India is very ad hoc and steps should be taken to develop a proper system for it,” says Bailey.