Celebrating 10 Years of NFDC Film Bazaar Co-Production Market: A Look Back
A confluence point for producers, festival programmers and sales agents from around the world, the beauty of the Co-Production Market (CPM) held during the annual NFDC Film Bazaar is the platform it creates. Since its inception 10 years ago, it enables individual filmmakers to connect with decision-makers in the industry and find the support their film needs. It stands apart as the only such platform currently available to South Asian filmmakers.
Needless to say, it has considerably simplified the process of pitching stories and scripts to prospective collaborators, co-producers and funding organizations for filmmakers.
“International film professionals use it to keep themselves up-to-date on upcoming films,” Urmi Juvekar, who heads the Co-Production Market, explains. “Once the film is selected for CPM, a certain buzz gets created around it. There is great energy and an atmosphere of collaboration and support amongst selected participants.”
Started in 2007, the iconic platform’s goal was to furnish financial assistance, location support and post-production facilities to Indian filmmakers. In 2011, they upped the ante by opening up to films from the whole subcontinent, including Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, becoming accessible to many of our South Asian neighbours in filmmaking as well. “We have had filmmakers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan participate in CPM in the past,” Ms. Juvekar adds.
Ashim Ahluwalia, Director of Miss Lovely says, “I love Film Bazaar — there is nothing like it in the world of Indian cinema. It’s a beautifully designed and well-curated event that connects potential financiers, sales agents, distributors and talent directly to the most interesting, original filmmakers working in the region.”
“The Co-Production Market was an integral step for my first feature, Miss Lovely, to find its way into the world. We were part of the Work-In-Progress lab, and despite the fact that we had an unfinished rough cut, there was a lot of interest in this strange, wild film from India.”
As to what value the platform really added to his films, he shares, “We ended up getting great feedback on the edit and also found our world sales agent — Fortissimo Films — there. This is a company that happened to usher in directors like Wong Kar Wai and much of the Asian cinema that I love. Having them attached early on really helped our journey when we were later officially accepted to Cannes.”
As Ms. Juvekar mentioned, creating that initial ‘buzz’ gives these films a leg-up at a critical stage, that can later propel them to the heights they deserve. Aditya Vikram Sengupta, director of the Bengali film Memories and My Mother which was a part of the Co-Production Market in 2015, shares, “We already had Catherine Dussart, a French producer, who came on board at the beginning of last year. Our aim at the Market was to connect with another co-producer and to collaborate with sales agents and others.”
Aditya has an interesting analogy: he likens the interactions between filmmakers and producers/promoters to a blind date. “The Co-Production Market is where the conversation gets initiated, and the first date happens, so to speak. Then, if everyone is on the same page, it grows over time organically.”
A point he underscores is how integral it is to meet these prospective collaborators in person, as there are so many details and nuances in communication that might get lost when done over the phone or email. “This is what makes it really invaluable,” he says. “Especially for budding filmmakers, since they get to meet a lot of people through an enriching process, which is important.”
Elaborating on the process, he shares, “NFDC shares the database of everyone who is participating and accordingly, distributors and sales agents can view the profile of the filmmakers and films and take it forward if they want to. We were really busy throughout those 4-5 days, and we were able to schedule meetings with nearly everyone we wanted to interact with.”
We turn to Ms Juvekar again to find out more about how the NFDC Film Bazaar team has honed its skills when it comes to matching the right films with the right delegates.
”We have a great team that has been working on this for the past nine years,” she explains. “The team speaks to delegates, gets their feedback on selected projects and also recommends meetings. Apart from publishing a catalogue of all the projects, we also send an e-version earlier on. This helps the team to gauge the response.”
Another concept introduced just last year is ‘Open Pitch’, a public event where every project gets 10 minutes to pitch their projects to all the delegates and also to answer any basic questions. “Done this way, it saves a lot of meeting time, which can be used more effectively by filmmakers and delegates alike. We have found that the quality of meetings improved after the Open Pitch,” Ms. Juvekar confirms.
The NFDC Film Bazaar Co-Production Market also has a partnership with Independent Filmmaker Project USA, wherein the two pick and present a project at the other’s event for a cross-cultural exchange through films.
“Film Bazaar have been true to their promise of supporting and building an infrastructure for new South Asian cinema,” Ashim Ahluwalia reflects. “You can trace most of these films back to 2011-2012 when the first few projects started taking off. Before that, the Indian independent scenario had been relatively dead for decades. One of the best things that happened was that a conversation started between filmmakers from different parts of the region. Suddenly Hindi-language filmmakers, Tamil filmmakers and directors from Bangladesh or Nepal didn’t feel so disconnected — and this, for me, is one of the best things that came out of this event.”
“The biggest takeaway is that you can meet everyone that you need to under one roof,” Aditya Vikram Sengupta adds. “You don’t need to travel across the world to put together a team that you feel is the right fit. Not to mention, you are always in good company at the parties following the event, a crowd that understands and loves films as much as you do.”
“Our goal is to create and sustain a platform for films which are ready for production, that will attract not just international, but also domestic, producers and studios,” Ms Juvekar winds up.
With the NFDC Film Bazaar Co-Production Market bringing in its 10th edition this year, we daresay the anniversary itself testifies to the event’s growing success.