The juries for Indian Panorama's Feature and Non-feature films had an interaction with the press in Goa during the International Film Festival of India, November, 2015 and they spoke about Indian films playing at the festival, along with concerns related to the parallel or art cinema which do not have Bollywood commercial elements like over the top situations, songs and dances.
"Indian cinema is not only Bollywood or films with feel-good story lines," said Aribam Syam Sharma, head of the Feature Films jury. "We have films dealing with real life in different regions, different cultures of our country, and such films need to be seen by the rest of the country. Diversity is the beauty of Indian culture."
I was on the jury of feature film section. I suggested, "Such festival films and indie films should be shown in different parts of the country in the auditoria owned by the government, without entertainment tax, so that the cost of the tickets will be less, and it will motivate the common man to experience something different from the mainstream cinema. The revenue could be shared by the smaller producers who otherwise do not get an opportunity to release their films." I pointed out that to promote art and culture, state patronisation is required. Omar Khayyam could write his poems and gaze at the stars without the survival problem since he was sponsored by the Persian King.
This year 230 films were submitted, out of which we short-listed 50 that were seen by the central panel, and finally 26 films were selected.
The jury has suggested to the Directorate of Film Festival, India that Film Federation of India should select five feature films on the basis of their commercial success and popular appeal rather than the Panorama jury selecting them. Those films should be branded as Popular films for the benefit of the viewers and selectors of international film festivals. The Panorama jury members can evaluate 20 films on the basis of the aesthetics of cinema.
Cinema is never demarcated as art or commercial anywhere in the world but always good or bad. But unfortunately, in India, it's different.
A jury member of the Non-feature Film section, was disappointed that documentaries do not have much space in India. "It needs to be patronized by the government to encourage more filmmakers to make documentaries," he said.
Sunzu Bachaspatimayum from Manipur said that with the advent of digital, many young filmmakers are experimenting with low budget films that may not be of good standard. But others were more hopeful and felt that in a few years, good filmmakers will surely emerge.
At last, Aribam Shyam Sharma and I spoke about how India's traditional dance forms and music have become overshadowed by pop culture. This year, IFFI opening ceremony was dominated by fusion art. We expressed hope that next year, IFFI would give more importance to the Indian classical or folk art in its opening ceremony that will appeal more to foreign delegates.
The Best film in the international section was awarded to Columbian film Embrace of the Serpent which has already received many awards earlier in the festival circuit including the Golden Apricot at Armenia where I was a juror. I strongly feel that this should be shortlisted for the Academy awards.