By Uma Ramasubramanian
Mumbai, Oct 22 (IANS) The sixteenth edition of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), hit by a financial crunch, has been wrapped up thanks to movie lovers. Now the big question: what is the future of the festival?
The fest, organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI), fell short of Rs.2.25 crore this year, and needs approximately Rs.5 crore to keep the ball rolling every year.
"What we should do is that instead of relying on one big supporter, we need to bring in all the studios to support and each can probably give Rs.25 lakh. So if one person backs out, others will be there and the show will go on without any hassle," Srinivasan Narayanan, Festival Director MFF, told IANS.
The 16th edition, which managed to screen over 185 films from more than 65 countries, was wrapped up Oct 21 and now begins the battle to make it financially independent.
"As the festival is over, we will sit together and decide and take a firm decision how we can grow to the next level and have a strategy in place.
"We have started giving huge cash awards and the festival has earned a certain amount of respect in the international market," said Narayanan.
Anupama Chopra, Creative Director MFF, too feels that a proper strategy needs to be put in place to secure the future of the fest.
"There is no other way. There has to be a strategy," she said and added the strategy will be built on the success of the latest edition.
"When we have something that we can show to the people -- look this is what we have done with the limited budget, can you put money into us? Can you have faith in us?" she said.
This year people may have got together to raise funds to save the festival, but it is not possible always.
"You can't do this again as nobody is going to raise funds each year. So either we have someone who gives us the money or we shut it out," said Chopra.
Also, organisation needs to be upgraded.
"We need to programme and make the organisation better so that the producers get associated with us and big films and big stars come to support us.
"We have to analyse what the festivals in Cannes, Berlin and Toronto are doing because they are boosting the commercial possibility for all the films possible.
"So everything boils down to the business aspect - are we able to promote the business of films or are we not able to promote?"
Chopra admits the festival's future would have been gloomy if they had missed this year's edition.
She said: "It's still far from what I wanted it to be, but things have happened and that's a huge thing. If it would not have happened, we would have missed a year and it would have been hard for us to rework.
"It happened because people love movies, so they supported us. It takes courage to do this because none of us over here are being paid. We are here because of the passion of cinema," she added.
They may have to tackle various roadblocks, but Chopra is still hopeful.
"I am very hopeful. Given our shortcomings, we managed to put together everything, so I am hoping people will value it and something happens," she said.
Mumbai, the entertainment capital of the country, thrives with the moviemaking industry. But ironically there is no resource to keep the fest going.
"If a city like Mumbai can't then who can? It really hurts. It will shut down if we don't find anyone to support us.
"The festival needs at least Rs.5 crore to run it. I have begged every possible person I know for help, but this can't happen every year," said Chopra.
By Uma Ramasubramanian