Onir, Anusha protest to save indie cinema

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) A day ahead of the National Film Awards, filmmakers, including Onir, Anusha Rizvi, Ashvin Kumar and Aamir Bashir protested here Thursday as part of Save Indie Campaign, demanding "more screens" and "space" for independent movies.

Save Indie Campaign is primarily an online petition, backed by as many as 62 filmmakers.

National-award winning filmmaker Onir, who fronts the campaign, said independent films, which win prestigious awards nationally as well as internationally, often end up struggling to find space and audience here.

"The question is what happens to these films? Where do these films go? They are welcomed heartily at the international film festivals, but back in their home country, the films struggle to release. Unfortunately, we lack space and audience here," Onir, who is credited with films like "I AM" and "My Brother...Nikhil", said here at the India Habitat Centre.

He rued how filmmakers today are "divided into two categories - serious and commercial".

"It's high time! We want to be recognised as artists. We need more screens and financial support from government," said Onir

He also pointed out that members of the film industry pay the highest tax, but get nothing in return.

Voicing same feelings, Anusha Rizvi of "Peepli Live" fame said: "We pay the high taxes but when it comes to providing support, government organisations like the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) backs out. A film is banned if it is based on Indian political history, if it shows sex or violence or even if it's named Kashmir."

"Whereas abroad entertainment tax is saved to fund producers or moviemakers. They not only return the amount, also encourage them to make more high-quality cinema."

She also alleged that censor board has a "contradictory attitude towards the Indian film industry".

"We are creative people and they try to become a political entity and restrict us from showing what needs to be shown to the viewers," she added.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ashvin Kumar, known for making "Inshallah Kashmir" and "Inshallah Football", says there's a "revolution" going on in the Indian film industry.

"More and more people are getting into independent film making. Even people in villages make films using mobile phones. It's high time short films, docu-dramas should be encouraged," said Kumar whose 15-minute film "Little Terrorist" has been nominated for the Oscars.

Kumar feels that people should "change their mentality" and should not tag independent films as "boring".

"People should be made aware of the kind of cinema being produced today. I go to see films at the international film festivals. Amazing films they show. I stay in Goa, so when I go to attend the annual Goa film festival, the focus is more on Bollywood biggies rather than showing good films.

"Organisers say press will come only if stars will be here, they don't really pay much attention on the new filmmakers or the kind of cinema being showcased there.

"We don't want to go to the Cannes International Film Festival and spend Rs.200 crore on partying after the event, we would rather spend Rs.200 crore on films or theaters."

Amlan Dutta, Shonali Bose and Shivendra Singh, among other independent moviemakers, were present at the India Habitat Centre.

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