From the President’s Desk

100 years of Indian cinema…

India’s first short film, The Flower of Persia by Hiralal Sen, made in 1898 started the journey of visual communications and entertainment. In 1913, Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, India’s first full-length film propelled our audiences into a world of moving pictures. The hundred years journey has been a thrilling adventure, a story of success and achievements. Cinema has grown from the silent era thru the talkies days into to a vibrant successful creative industry, keeping pace with changing times and today, the Indian cinema has established itself as a global player in an increasingly competitive world. We have emerged as the largest film industry in the world.

Over 2961 films were produced in the year 2009. Out of which 1673 films were documentaries and short films, and 1288 feature films. Documentaries and short films play a crucial role especially in a country like India where according to recent reports; almost 67% of the rural population is still without education and information. If we aspire to be global leaders and a super power we need to empower our people and …Education is the key!! Value based documentaries fulfill that need. Educational content in multiple languages can reach millions, even the remotest areas through well crafted documentaries and films.

Unfortunately documentaries have no platform. There is an urgent need for a secure platform. With over 1000 channels crowding our airwaves India needs a television channel fully committed to documentaries. With that in mind, two years ago IDPA submitted a proposal and a wish list to the I & B Ministry for a dedicated documentary channel. A 24x7 TV network that would transmit public interest programmes through the day and would telecast feature films and short films from across India in the evenings. The need is for every state to have such a channel, but for the moment let us at least make a beginning.

We have the talent, the expertise, committed organisations and dedicated individuals all over the country. All we need is political will and support from the government. Perhaps a part of the Educational cess we all pay as tax could go towards formation of a fund for a futuristic documentary educational channel. It would be visible and a constructive way of using public funds. Documentary filmmaking is not a commercial activity…apart from awareness generation Documentaries are effective agents of change and valuable educational tools. They can help carry the governments mandate like the RTE, public health, welfare schemes, including vocational training, the documentary can serve as a helpline to remote areas.

Awards for Excellence
Documentaries are also visual records of the passage of time and important events. Historical and archival material can now be preserved on Blu-ray for perpetuity.

The schools of future will come out of television sets, tablets and mobile devices. As global players in an aggressive arena, we need to create space and a market for our documentaries. The success of any production is measured by the recovery of the investment made. Production of documentary films will become sustainable only if we have an effective distribution system. Foreign agencies come to India for content. Why can we not create a hub and provide the content. For that to happen we have to make films that cater to an international market. We must improve our technique, upgrade our skills, and learn to improvise and cater to the international needs. The objective is to increase the demand for films made by Indian filmmakers.

IDPA is continually engaged in an endeavor to establish new film makers , to expand their horizons , push the boundaries ,experiment and improvise to tell their stories in innovative ways by providing exposure and workshops for skill enhancement.

We hope to hold classes and workshops with international networks and master classes with top film makers in the coming year in partnership with the government and other film organisations like SRFTI, Graffiti, Doc Edge, PSBT, Habitat and many others. IDPA feels this exposure will open many possibilities for all filmmakers. Either we remain a collective of individual producers or gain strength and stature by creating a federation to meet the challenges ahead. Let all the organisations, associations and collectives come together to create one powerful platform.

The possibilities are many. All we need is for us all…filmmakers across the country to unite and create a core group. A hub. Unity will help revitalize the documentary movement, lets re invent the documentary movement… together we can reinvent Indian cinema… reinvent India.

- Mike Pandey
President IDPA


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