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Ficci-IIFA film biz forum in Amsterdam

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MUMBAI: Even as superstar Amitabh Bachchan urged the Indian film industry to change its attitude to make further inroads globally, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) announced holding a Global Business Forum in Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam forum is scheduled to be held from 9-11 June 2005 and is slated to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Netherlands. There will be a session on cinema and entertainment titled `Unleashing The Power of Cinema.'

Panelists will look at filming and production incentives in Amsterdam, while issues of financing and digital rights management will be discussed along with technological trends.

Speaking on the state of the Indian film industry this morning at the Ficci-Frames, IFA brand ambassador Bachchan said that the critics of the film industry have been silenced and a bright future awaits the industry, provided some more changes in the attitude is brought about.

"The prophets of doom have been silenced. Indian cinema will be bigger than Hollywood in 2020. Our cinema which is an instrument of social change is increasingly being viewed with empathy," Bachchan said, indicating that entertainment will be a key driver in the new economy.

"As long as there is self belief and self sufficiency we can turn fantasy to reality. Tomorrow we might view a classic on a wrist watch. Having said that we must not get carried away by technical gizmos. The 35 mm screen is the ideal way to view a film," he said.

However, Bachchan did admit that the film industry does not always function as a cohesive whole.

"We are splintered into factions. Our vocabulary defines us as being glitzy, moody and self indulgent. We must change the definition to include the words hard working and combative. That is because how we view ourselves will shape how we behave," he hammered in a point.

He was also critical of the film industry using terms like crossover cinema, which, according to him, display a condescending and patronising attitude.

"We have as many quality films as Hollywood. Indian popular cinema has become 'cool' in the eyes of the world. We must

sustain this 'cool wave'. The critic who says that popular cinema has no deeper meaning, cannot see anything positive in entertainment. The success of Devdas and Lagaan has shown that we have potential to reach the overseas market.

"Therefore it is imperative that our marketing and distribution strategies be on the ball. The curiosity of foreigners can be exploited in different ways," he added.

PIRACY CONCERNS MPA

Meanwhile the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA) president Daniel Glickman dwelt on the menace of piracy at the Ficci Frames and urged measures to arrest this trend or the entertainment industry will have to face huge losses.

"Piracy is seen as a victimless act. Copyright theft damages a creative society. The fact is that for every Tom Cruise making $20 million, there are 500,000 people struggling to earn a livelihood. So every pirated good and download hits them hard," Glickman said.

Last year 225 million pirated discs were seized in China and the American film industry lost $903 million in revenue from Asia in 2004. The total estimate is $3.5 billion.

" Any European or American film can be found on DVD in China within days of its release. I urge your government to bring up the issue of piracy during trade dialogues with China. It is also important that global law enforcement

agencies share knowledge with each other," Glickman pointed out, giving the issue a political touch too.

He added that recently the MPA had launched anti piracy trailers in cinema halls across Asia. The message: if a person does not steal a car or a mobile phone, then why does he/she steal a film?

From Malaysia six million pirated discs were seized last year. 600,000 of them were Indian. In Holland last month, 150,000 pirated Indian discs were seized.

Another problem for him is the peer to peer sharing on the Internet. In the future, with technology rapidly advancing, it would be possible to download a film in 90 seconds.

On a more positive note, the MPA executive said that movies "feed the imagination and soul." Bollywood and Hollywood have a shared vision of entertaining and making money.

In an aside, Glickman also brought up broadcasting issues and expressed concern over the Indian government trying to fixing the ceiling on channel prices and having an interconnect law, which says that content must be provided to a distributor on request.

" There is no precedent for this anywhere in the world. Also, this will not benefit the consumer," Glickman said, reiterating some of the submissions that the MPA had submitted to broadcast regulator some months back on the same lines.

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