Ashok Amritraj open to Tamil films

PANAJI: The Indian Documentary Producers Association is to help Hollywood giant Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park-Image Nation to find four Indian filmmakers for a special non-scripted television series featuring filmmakers in West Asia, India and Singapore.

The United Nations, Hyde Park-Image Nation, and Variety magazine had two months earlier teamed up to produce the series, ‘Chance of a Lifetime’, to be hosted by Amritraj.

The former tennis ace who is now settled in Los Angeles said: “This unprecedented effort will bring together documentary filmmakers from diverse backgrounds in a filmmaking competition where the contestants must team up to produce one cinematic vision while drawing on their varied cultural perspectives.”

Amritraj, a retrospective of whose films has been held at the IFFI, said the series will shine a spotlight on a number of United Nations global initiatives. The series will be shown to the UN Secretary General and then taken to Cannes, and later will air on an as-yet-undecided network.

The topics and tone of the films will reflect the Millennium Development Goals established at the United Nations and will include storylines that highlight issues that are central to the “Every Woman, Every Child” effort.

The winning team’s documentary will be screened at the United Nations, and they will receive a special recognition from Variety during the 2013 Festival de Cannes.

“Bringing the Middle East, India and Asia to a global audience has always been a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled to provide this platform for filmmakers of such diverse cultures to have a truly collaborative cinematic experience. The United Nations and Variety have been amazing partners on this project,” said Amritraj.

In 2009, Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment and Image Nation, the Abu Dhabi production company, partnered on a $250 million financing deal to develop, produce and distribute feature films. They extended their partnership to create a strategic alliance with Singapore’s Media Development Authority. Under this deal, Hyde Park – Image Nation Singapore was launched in 2010 to fund multiple films worth an estimated production value of $75 million.

Although the entire funding will be by Amritraj’s company, the UN had made available its archival material for these short ten-minute films.

Meanwhile, Amritraj – who has made 114 films so far in Hollywood – said he had not thought of making any Indian film but was open to good content and screenplays from anywhere. In 1994, he had made the Tamil film ‘Jeans’ starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan which was also dubbed in Hindi. He said he was open to Tamil films if he gets a good screenplay. He said he had plans of opening an office in Chennai.

He was happy that India had made huge strides in cine technology and had the latest digital equipment, as this would prevent piracy. He said the United States lost around $5 billion every year because of piracy.

Answering a question, he said India is fashionable around the world today because it was emerging as a tiger economy.

He said China was a good market for Hollywood films but Indian films are themselves so strong that there is no place for Hollywood. If India had failed to make a mark overseas, it was because Indians needed to make Indian stories that appeal to western audiences. But as ideas get non-traditional, Indian films will also make a mark in other countries. He said he thought of himself as someone who connects the world – India and Hollywood.

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