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Centre considering dedicated documentary TV channel: Rathore

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MUMBAI: Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said his Ministry was seriously contemplating a dedicated channel for documentary, short and animation films.

However, he said it was difficult to say at this stage whether it would be a new channel or an existing channel like Doordarshan's DD Bharati.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 14th edition of Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films – MIFF 2016 - which was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Rathore said that documentaries more than features ‘shake us’ and bring about changes in society.

At the same time, he said that the Films Division, which runs the festival needs to innovate and re-invent itself if it had to remain in the public eye and ‘find a reason to exist.’ Rathore cited that the MIFF was part of that process as it gave new vitality to documentary, short and feature films, which get a strong platform here.

He was particularly satisfied that the Division had taken the bold step of FD Zone, whereby documentary films are being shown in other cities at the same time as MIFF.

Rathore said that the I&B Ministry would continue to make efforts to make things easier for makers of documentary, short and animation films. “The mushrooming of so many news and current affairs channels can be probed to help exhibit these films.

Documentary filmmakers are strong storytellers who move audiences with their films. Digital technology has ushered in a new era in film making and is greatly contributing to the documentary film movement,” he said.

“It is heartening to note that our film makers, despite having great financial hurdles have gone ahead and made excellent films, displaying a mature approach while dealing with social and economic issues. Such films should not remain unseen,” Rathore added.

He also said that the Government was in favour of ensuring that the power and freedom of the filmmaker was not limited by archaic certification laws and referred to setting up of the Shyam Benegal Committee to examine the entire certification process.

Benegal was a Guest of Honour at the inauguration, which also included MIFF brand ambassador Jackie Shroff, Indian Documentary Producers Association president Mike Pandey and Festival director Mukesh Sharma.

Veteran wildlife filmmaker and conservationist Naresh Bedi, who along with his brother Rajesh has been making films for over 45 years, received the V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to documentary filmmaking. Filmmaker Kiran Shantaram, who is son of the late V Shantaram, presented the award comprising a trophy, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. 

Speaking on the occasion, Fadnavis said that he had offered land to the central government in the Film City in Mumbai for building the long-pending Centre of Excellence in Animation and Gaming. “The state will extend all help in this process,” he said.

Earlier, Benegal said it was sad that while such a prestigious festival was being held, no serious thought was being given to exhibiting and distributing these films. “Ways need to be found to ensure that filmmakers who dabble in the documentary format get their money back to be able to make more films as many are not even able to pay back the loans they took for such films. This is imperative at a time when digital cameras and even cellphones can be used to make films,” he said.

A total of 385 documentaries, short and animation films will be screened during the Festival, which is held every second year in Mumbai. The Festival concludes on 3 February.

The event, organised by the Films Division of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry is supported by the Maharashtra Government.

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