Broadcasters look to strike deals at IFFI's Flim Bazaar

NEW DELHI: What are Zee Telefilms, the biggest vertically integrated Indian media company, India's pubcaster Prasar Bharati and TV production companies like Crest Communication doing at a film festival?

Looking for crossover business and ideas, of course.

Keeping that in mind, these companies among many others, are participating in the Film Bazaar, which was inaugurated today (10 October) at the 34th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The festival itself opened yesterday (9 October) with lukewarm participation from the media and entertainment industry folks.

According to a senior official of Prasar Bharati, film festivals like the IFFI are good places not only to buy software for television channels, but also to sell to foreign companies hungry for entertainment software featuring actors from big and small screen.

However, it has to be seen if the likes of Zee and Prasar Bharati - which oversees the functioning of Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) - will be successful in carrying out business deals at the 34th IFFI. It is doubtful for mega deals to happen, simply because the ongoing IFFI is too government and bureaucracy-dominated.

The intentions may be honest, but the hype and hoopla that is generally associated with film festivals - which are increasingly becoming a meeting ground for conduction business worldover - was missing from IFFI that opened here yesterday. Even the function that preceded the festival was clearly dominated by the government rather than the industry!

Kicking off at a time when film festivals at Cannes and Venice are making its presence, IFFI is already proving to be a pale shadow.

The consolation that the organisers of the 34th IFFI can take is that Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) are participating at the Film Bazaar.

Inaugurating of the Film Bazaar, Information and Broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the beginning of the Bazaar has been very encouraging and there was a "lot of excitement among the foreign participants". He added, ''The Indian entertainment sector is growing and I am happy about the response to the Bazaar this year.''

The two business chambers put up stalls at the Bazaar, which also has participation from countries like Uzbekistan and Mauritius. Goa, the host of IFFI from next year onwards, has also put up a special stall depicting its scenic beauty and the picturesque beaches.

Amongst the 24 companies that have put up stalls at the Bazaar are the Children Film Society of India (CFSI), which is now headed by film star Raveena Tandon; Eros Multimedia Pvt Ltd; India's pubcaster Prasar Bharti; National Film Development Corporation (NFDC); Films Division; India Film Exporters Association; Madhu Entertainment and IN2 Info India.

Is Goa ready to be fest venue? 

Meanwhile, raising doubts about the IFFI moving to Goa next year, Prasad today said the government was still open to the idea of hosting the fest at some other place if Goa is not ready by next October, according to report put out by the United News of India (UNI).

''I can only say we are flexible about next year. But Goa will definitely be the hosting state for IFFI from 2005 onwards,'' Prasad told reporters after inaugurating the Film Bazaar as part of the ongoing 34th IFFI, the UNI report stated.

However, the minister did not disclose the alternative venue the government was considering in case Goa was not ready by next year.

''That we have to see,'' he replied, when asked if the festival could again be held in Delhi next year.

However, the government had earlier already announced that Goa will become the permanent venue for IFFI from next year and this will be the last time IFFI was being held in Delhi.

Goa Tourism has even put up a special stall at the Film Bazaar to introduce the venue to the delegates.

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