Big Push for Short Films

At IFFI, Goa, Ashok Amritraj shares his plans to give a global platform to documentaries

I have made lots of money and it's time for me to give back," says Ashok Amritraj, tennis player-turned- Hollywood producer. One of his moves in this direction comes with the announcement that the United Nations, Hyde Park-Image Nation (he is the CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment) and Variety magazine have teamed up to produce a non-scripted series featuring documentary filmmakers from the Middle East, Singapore and India. This project will bring together filmmakers from diverse backgrounds for a competition. They will work together to produce a film based on a single idea while drawing on their varied cultural perspectives. This announcement was made at the 43rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, which concluded on November 30.

The series will follow the producer's search for four teams with a filmmaker each from India, the Middle East and Singapore. Each week, Amritraj will ask the teams to carry out some production tasks. The winning team's documentary will be screened at the UN and Cannes film festival. The Indian Documentary Producers' Association will also be associated with the project in India. According to Amritraj, documentary filmmaking in India is yet to get the kind of importance it enjoys in western countries.

Hyde Park-Image Nation opened a wing in India earlier this year. "But this does not mean that we are here to launch a slew of activities," says Amritraj, a retrospective of whose movies was screened during IFFI. What he plans to do in India, however, is to look for good scripts and stories. That's what will propel Amritraj, whose last Indian movie was the Aishwarya Rai-starrer Jeans, to make a movie in India. He reiterates that the problem that affects the quality of Indian cinema is "lack of importance given to writing".

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