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KIFF 2017: Severely exhausting to do marketing and sales, agree filmmakers

Filmmakers Lijo Jose Pellissery, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Jiju Antony, Pushpendra Singh, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, Miransha Naik, Maheen Mirza and actress Urmila Mahanta dicussed alternative forms of marketing indie films at 'Coffee Chat' during Kazhcha Indie Film Festival.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Conceptualised as a free flowing conversation forum for film practitioners to come together and exchange ideas pertaining to the art and craft of cinema, the second Coffee Chat on day 3 of the Kazhcha Indie Film Festival (KIFF) saw Lijo Jose Pellissery in conversation with filmmakers Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Jiju Antony, Pushpendra Singh, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, Miransha Naik, Maheen Mirza and actress Urmila Mahanta. Dr Biju also joined the group during the conversation.

Pellissery is known for his films gangster genre films like Nayakan (2010), City of God (2011) and the latest critically acclaimed, Angamaly Diaries (2017), amongst others. He has a huge fan following and several ardent fans thronged the venue to get a glimpse of the filmmaker.

The filmmakers began by talking about their work and Mirza, who has worked on the film Turup, made by the Ektara Collective, spoke about her film. She complimented Pellissery on the mouth-watering way in which he shot food in his crime drama, Angamaly Diaries (2017) and managed to create a sensory experience. 

Pellissery in turn was intrigued by the unique idea of the Ektara Collective making and collaborating on a film together. Mirza replied saying, “Opportunities to make films rest with a few as film is a resource intensive process so there’s easy access to films for those who have certain privileges.” This was what led to the idea of a collective making films, she said.

Asked by Sanal about his next film, Padmakumar spoke about his next project being set against the Tamil- Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka which looks at the price of hatred. Focused on a family and the ways in which it is affected by this conflict, his film questions the price of choosing to hate. He also spoke of his choice to leave advertising and choose filmmaking, a sentiment that resonated with Pellissery who left advertising for the same reasons.

The conversation also focused on the struggles to get independent films screened in the country and abroad with Goan filmmaker Naik sharing his experiences with his critically acclaimed Konkani film, Juze. Sanal recounted how Juze had created ripples in Film Bazaar in 2015 with people abuzz with praise for the film. But it took a while for the film to see the light of day and be screened at festivals. Naik spoke of his experiences with the festival circuit with Singh and Sanal sharing their experiences with sales agents and the struggle involved in screening their films.

Mirza also expressed her dismay with the commercialization of the medium and contemplated a situation where filmmakers were to take films directly to the audience saying, “It is unfortunate that independent cinema has been pushed to only festivals.”

Talking about the difficulty in screening films, she said, “The distance between films and the audience keeps increasing.” Sanal gave an example of the alternate model of distribution that was initiated with the Cinema Cab, used to screen his film Oraalppokkam.

The filmmakers also agreed that as the job of the filmmaker was to be more creative, there was a dire need for other people to take the films forward after completion as it was severely exhausting for filmmakers to do the marketing and sales of the film in addition to making the film. The engaging session concluded with people mulling over some of the questions and possibilities raised in the discussion.

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Kazhcha Indie Film Festival