Big Push for Short Films


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 several countries.

This project will bring 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 that will help them complete their documentaries. The winning team's documentary will be screened at the UN and Cannes film festival. The Indian Documentary Producers' Association (IDPA) will also be associated with the project in India. According to Amritraj, documentary in India is yet to get the kind of importance it enjoys in western countries.

Hyde Park-Image Nation opened its 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". "Whenever I want to meet a writer in India, a director shows up. Later on, that person turns out to be the writer of the movie as well," says Amritraj, also the CEO of National Geographic Films.

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